Shots Golf 3
Score: 9.2 / 10
How good is Hot Shots Golf 3 for the Playstation 2? It's so good that on a gorgeous, sunny 80-degree afternoon I found myself hitting the virtual links instead of the real thing – and I love real golf.
Shots Golf 3 (HSG3) comes to the PS2 after a successful stint on the
PSOne. The first two Hot
Shots Golf games had enough simulation aspects to appeal to the die-hard
fan, but enough fast-paced action to please the fly-by-night gamer.
Unlike other golf games (such as the Links and PGA Championship
series on the PC) HSG3 can be played quite successfully by a wide range
So what makes this game so addicting? HSG3 falls into that "easy to learn, but difficult to master" category. The swing meter is very simple to learn. HSG3 implements a traditional horizontally moving three-click system. Swinging the club is as easy as clicking the X button once to start the power meter, again to determine the level of power, and once more to determine how accurate the ball flies. The last click is the most important – the pink region represents the sweet spot and anything in the red represents a severe hook or slice. For the shorter hitting players the sweet spot is bigger and conversely the longer hitting players have a smaller sweet spot. (Close to Basbeball Advance’s batting system.) When you are in the rough, sand, or unfavorable lie the sweet spot becomes smaller, thus making it harder to hit a good shot.
The whole swing process may sound simple, but it can become more complex in a number of ways. For example, you can press the D-pad in certain directions to add top or backspin or a fade or draw. You can also execute extreme spin shots by pressing the D-pad twice while the power meter fills up. The difficulty of landing the power meter within the sweet spot AND putting spin on the ball is nice, but it can be difficult. Usually you have to sacrifice one for the other when you first begin to play.
Putting is also easy to learn, but difficult to master. You use a two-click system and you have to look at the yardage markers more precisely. As you line up a putt, the green is placed in a grid and there are little white dots that represent the severity and direction of the break. You are also given a cross section of the putt above the putting meter that shows whether the putt is going up-hill or downhill.
continue on my "easy to learn, but difficult to master"
mantra, HSG3 allows you to be as meticulous as you would like.
When my little brother and I play a match, I look at all the
different camera angles to determine the slope, distance, and wind
factor and then pre-determine the exact mark on the power meter that I
want to hit. My brother on
the other hand, takes no look at his lie or distance and blindly shoots.
I always beat him, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have
graphics in HSG3 may look a bit "N64-ish" and kiddy, but this
golfing series has always gone for cute over authentic.
The golfers may be lacking in facial texture and pores, but the
models are solid. Each
golfer has their own personality and style of play, both of which are
portrayed through their wardrobe and body language.
Since the game runs at a smooth 60 fps, there is no lag or glitch
in the gameplay.
The golf courses are very impressive. The layouts are very challenging and fun. There is the usual gamut of courses: one nestled inside a forest, one along side an ocean, one in the desert, etc. The level of detail of the terrain good – you can see the curves and elevation changes of the course. What is unique about HSG3 is that you can play any of the five courses in all four seasons of the year. So the number of courses really feels like 20 instead of five.
replay value for HSG2 is superior.
To unlock other golfers (you only are given three to start the
game), courses (you get two to start off with), and other gaming goodies
you have to either win tournaments or win a game of match play.
Other playable golfers are unlocked by beating them as CPU opponents in match play. One enhancement to the PS2 version is that in this mode you are able to automatically defeat the CPU after you are up by four holes. In HSG and HSG2 you had to play at least ten holes before ensuring a victory, but in HSG3 you can play as little as four. This cuts down the time it takes to unlock all 15 characters.
Courses are unlocked by winning tournaments in Tournament Mode. At the end of each event you are given experience points and with them you advance up the player ranking system. The higher the ranking system, the more courses and events you will unlock. This game mode acts as the season mode that sports gamers have become so accustomed to.
In single-player golf, aside from CPU match play and tournament mode, you can also practice on a nine-hole short course or the game's training mode and play a normal round of golf. You can also play a match or stroke competition in multi-player mode.
the most intriguing game mode is the ability to compete in National
Tournaments. To compete in
them you have to get onto the official HSG3 website
(http://www.hotshotsgolf3.scea.com/flash/index.html) and get a password
to play. Prizes are given
away to the lowest scores (which are ridiculously low, such as -37 for
interesting aspect of the game is the ability to earn Hot Shots points.
With them you are able to buy new items or upgrades from the
store. This alone adds much
to the replay value because in the previous two games the equipment and
such was given to you.
don't see a whole lot that is wrong with the game.
There have been complaints about its lack of innovation to the
genre, but aside from Tiger Woods golf, I don't see a whole lot of
competition on the PS2. The
graphics are solid, but not jaw dropping.
The game plays so fluidly that the lack of more pristine courses
and golfers is a moot point.
will admit that I was a big fan of the HSG series on the PSOne and I was
very much looking forward to this title.
As a die-hard fan of the series I can say that HSG3 is a more
than ample debut on the PS2. There
is the Tony Hawk-esque unlocking of characters and courses and the RPG
element of gaining experience points as a form of currency.
It's off-the-wall and untraditional, but it's a game that all
gamers, not just golf fans, should try out.
- Tim Martin
(April 23, 2002)
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