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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Clap Hanz

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 2002

 

- Easy to learn, but difficult to master

- Fun

- The replay value is awesome, national tournaments are a definite plus

- The game combines arcade and sim aspects seamlessly

- Weather plays a big role in a round of golf

 

 

- The graphics are nothing to brag about

- An alternate swing meter (more in the style of a Tiger Woods or Links) for more advanced golfers would be much appreciated 

 

 

Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (Playstation 2)

Review: Outlaw Golf (Gamecube)

 

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Hot 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.

 

Hot 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 of gamers.  

 

hot-shots-golf-3-1.jpg (55184 bytes)          hot-shots-golf-3-2.jpg (56941 bytes)

 

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.

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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.

 

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To 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 some success.

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

hot-shots-golf-3-3.jpg (72221 bytes)          hot-shots-golf-3-4.jpg (91065 bytes)

 

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.

 

But 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 18 holes).

 

Another 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.

 

I 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.

 

I 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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