Review: Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational (Sony PlayStation 3)
by Aaron Sirois on August 9, 2013

hsgcover

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Clap Hanz
Genre: Sports
Release Date: 07/23/2013

I haven’t gotten around to getting a Vita yet, but when I do, Hot Shots Golf will be one of the first titles I pick up for it. I love the series. The games tend to be accessible, addicting, and challenging all at once. So when they released the Vita game as a downloadable title for PS3, I jumped at the chance to finally play it.

Time to see if the port was a successful one.

World Invitational has the standard modes that you’ll find in any modern Hot Shots games. There a multiple options for single play and multiplayer.

First up is challenge mode. This is the main meat of the game. You’ll have a series of challenges that will take you across all of the game’s courses in an ever increasing difficulty. Win a challenge, and you earn a star. Earn enough stars, and you unlock a versus match. Beat the versus match, and you move up a rank and unlock new challenges. This pattern will continue until you’ve bested every opponent. You can also complete optional objectives to earn crowns. Earning enough of them will unlock bonus versus matches that unlock a new outfit for one of your characters.

hsg1For those looking for a more leisurely game, you can always play stroke mode or practice. Stroke mode allows you to pick the course and play a quick game without worrying about any other golfers. Practice mode allows you to play a specific hole to your heart’s content. It’s great for nailing down a tough green or tricky slope.

When you unlock an item, it becomes available for purchase in the shop. To buy things, you need to spend points earned by completing rounds of golf. The prices are fairly steep, so new characters and advanced clubs will take you a few rounds to save enough points. Replaying matches in challenge mode will offer up the most points, so it shouldn’t be too hard. The shop is absolutely stacked with things to buy. There are new characters, new outfits, color schemes, courses, clubs, balls, parts for your avatar, concept art, music, and more. It will take you dozens of hours to earn enough points to unlock it all.

For those looking to test their mettle against others online, there are several options. First, there’s the daily tournament, which gives you a challenge to compare your rank against other players worldwide. The player lobby is great for setting up a small game or creating a tournament. You can set the rules for these matches as well, allowing you to create or find the kind of game you want to play. While waiting for a match, you’re free to run around as your avatar in a cute little playground.

hsg2Offline multiplayer is available as well, and can even be done with one controller. You can just choose your course, the number of players, and get going. The downside is that you’ll have to wait to take your shot until everyone else is done. If you’re using just one controller, this opens you up to having someone intentionally taking a bad shot for you. If that happens, I think no court would convict you for smashing the other person’s head open with a lamp.

In terms of the presentation, Hots Shots has never been top of the class. The courses look good, as do the cartoon golfers. It isn’t next level stuff to be sure, especially since this is a port of a Vita game. The previous PS3 game looked a little better perhaps, and it came out several years ago. Still, it’s a pleasant looking game. The audio is basically unchanged. There’s some light music for each course, the cheerful cries of the caddies, and the classic sound effects that fans have come to love. It’s a satisfactory presentation all around, though I wouldn’t blame you for playing your own music in the background.

The three click system returns in full force. When taking a shot, you first click the cross button to start your swing. The second click sets the power, while the third sets your accuracy. It’s an incredibly easy system to wrap your head around. However, there is a ton of room for advanced play. For starters, you can add a spin to your shot by using a directional button. This can allow you to hit the ball around obstacles or come at the pin the way you desire. You also have to account for things like wind and ball lie, which can send your shot flying the wrong direction easily. The more advanced characters can do wonders with trick shots, but generally have a harder time being accurate. This means you’ll have to work on your timing a lot in order to get good at the game.

hsg3One thing new about this game is that it offers several different shot types to accommodate different styles of play. The classic shot returns, as does the more visual type from Out of Bounds. However, motion controls are available for players with the move, and other shot types play around with the traditional method, allowing you to essentially mix different types to find one that suits you best. Thankfully, you’re not forced to use one over the other, except in very rare circumstances.

A fun new gameplay type has arrived. That’s slot mode. This is a versus match where random rules will affect you at the beginning of each hole. This could be something as simple as changing the size of the hole you need to hit the ball into. It can be as crazy as a hurricane hitting the course and making it impossible for the ball to fly straight. I also found that the game will slap on negative effects on the player in fronts so as to allow the other guy to try an catch up. It certainly made things more interesting.

As I said, the game is pretty accessible. There’s even an easy mode that will worsen the scores of opponents in challenge mode. However, the game is still mighty challenging for those looking for a tough time. The courses start to get brutal, with narrow fairways and steep greens. Bunkers start showing up everywhere, and obstacles like buildings, trees, and water are more than ready to ruin your best shot. However, your biggest obstacle will be yourself. The key is to be patient. Lining up shots, accounting for wind, and checking the angle of the green are all things that will help your shot land where you want instead of in the sand. Execution is also key. If you can’t get the timing right with the gauge, you’re never going to get those low scores. (Remember, lower scores are good in golf.)

hsg4If there’s one issue I have with the game, it’s a flaw in the game’s points system. When you’re in a points match, the number of strokes you need to get the ball in the hole is only half the battle. If you tie your opponent there, the points determine the winner. Points are given for landing in the fairway, landing close the green, etc. In one game, I played extremely well. My second shot landed the ball only a foot from the hole, netting me an easy birdie. The AI opponent, however, tanked her second shot and landed in the fringe outside of the green. Fortunately for her, she had an incredibly easy chip-in lined up. She won the round, even though my shots were better all around. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Short Attention Span Summary
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is a fun game, as expected. It changes things up a bit, but not in any way that affects that game’s overall image. If you’ve played a previous game in the franchise, you’ll know just what to expect from this one. That being said, this is probably one of the best games in the series to date, and features the best online experience to boot. For fans, it’s a no brainer, especially if you have yet to pick up the game for the Vita. For someone looking for a good golf game, this is an excellent choice provided you weren’t hoping to play as famous real world golfers. In the end, this is as safe a bet as you can get on the PS3.



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