Aukev’s Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds PS3 Impressions
I didn’t think I was going to pick this up at launch, but I ended up doing so because I had enough Best Buy reward certificates to get it free. I played the game about 2 or 3 hours last night and had a real fun time. I’ve never owned a Hot Shots game before, I had only played the previous versions a few times with my friends because I’m not much of a golf gamer. I had a good time with the demo I got off the Euro PSN store, so I thought this could be fun and it is.
Pretty much all I did last night was the Challenge Mode which I guess is the major single player mode (I don’t know what modes are new or always been part of the game since this is the first one for me to own). I was happy with the difficulty of the first tier of challenges. Having not played many golf games, I was a bit worried that there would be a learning curve, but there really wasn’t. All the information on the game HUD kept me apprised of how best to handle the next shot. The swinging mechanics are really nicely done. I am a big fan of meters as opposed to right analog controls in terms of mechanics, but the drawback of meters to me is the big ugly meter that appears on-screen. Hot Shots 5 found a great way to include the meter without the ugly meter graphic by just watching your player swing. It’s still a meter, just an invisible one. Perfect. So I played the first tier which was at a country club and unlocked the “boss” golfer at the end of the tier by beating her. Nothing was too difficult, I won the 3 or 4 matches leading up to the boss match without too much struggle. I probably won by 4 strokes on each challenge except for the first one when I was getting familiar with the game. The first challenge I think I bogeyed on the first 3 holes but parred and birdied the rest to give me a good win. The cpu opponents aren’t very good in the first tier from what I saw. The boss match at the end of the tier was pretty competitive though. I wouldn’t say the cpu character was too tough, I was just having a problem with my drives that course and parred each hole. The cpu parred each one too except for one that she got a bogey on, so I was only up by one stroke the whole match. I did get a birdie on the last hole to clinch the win, so that was nice. Even though I was pretty tired, I played one more challenge in the second tier because the course was in Okinawa and I wanted to see what it was like. It was real cool looking, lots of sand traps. Just playing one match in that tier, the cpu still wasn’t that threatening, I think I won with an even par score, but the best computer player was at +4 or so. I can tell my short game needs a little more work, because I putt pretty well, but I just miss the pin most of the time and have to settle for par. One problem I had with golfing in the game last night was I could not get the spins to work like I expected. I think I’m doing it right, but I’m not seeing any results. In one match I was really trying to put backspin on some shots to get and stay on the green better, but when the ball landed it kept rolling forward quite a bit. The manual said that backspin on a ball should make it not roll as much once it lands. I definitely wasn’t seeing this. The initial male character (sorry I forgot his name, but he’s the cowboy character) has a D rating for spin though, so I’m guessing that’s why I’m not seeing a spin on the ball, or I very well could be doing something wrong. I’ll have to go into the practice mode tonight with another character and see how to do spins better.
Other than Challenge Mode I didn’t mess around with the other modes any. I did jump online and create my lobby character. I had a good amount of customization options for my character, but there are still plenty more items to unlock (I guess in challenge mode) to customize my character even more. After creating my character I poked around online to see what it looked like, but didn’t play a game. I’m hoping to find someone here or at OS to play online with tonight and see how it performs.
I love games with unlockables and this game seems to have a good amount. After each Challenge Mode match that I won, you get the chance to flip over one of six cards that has a prize on the back you unlock. I flipped over 3 new club sets and two new caddies while I was playing last night. I had to look in the manual to figure out how to use the new clubs, but that was probably just my lack of experience with Hot Shots LOL. You can unlock more balls as well, but I didn’t get any of those last night. After my first match in Challenge Mode I got to flip over two cards and I’m not sure why. Maybe something happened in the match that I got a bonus for, but I’m not sure because after all the other matches I only got to flip one card. That bonus flip I got, I think I unlocked some new customization items for my online character. At first I wasn’t sure what I unlocked, but after going online and building my character, I think that is what it was. I read one review online that said that once you flipped a card and unlocked an item, that item is not removed from the cards so you might flip over that card again and not get anything new.
So far I’ve only played with one character, the cowboy, because I don’t really like playing with girl characters LOL and the first unlockable character was a girl, so I haven’t had any other option yet. Since I’ve only played with the cowboy, his loyalty meter has been going up after each match (some kind of meter that shows who you play the most with). I saw a loading screen that mentioned that if a golfer has a high loyalty meter, you can take off or put on a little more strength at the point of impact of a swing with that character by pressing circle or triangle I think, but I thought you are suppose to hit X at the impact point at the exact right time to get good accuracy with the shot. So I’m not sure how that loyalty benefit works, that’s another thing I’m going to try and figure out tonight. It’s probably in the manual, so I’ll look for that in there.
I like the stuff in the Data menu from the main menu. The game automatically saves replays of “super shots” you make in a match. I got one of these last night in the first match I played when I chipped in a shot from a bunker. I remember something flashing on the screen when it happened, but I didn’t really pay attention because I was celebrating my shot. The game must have been telling me that I accomplished a super shot because it saved a replay of that entire hole for me. It looks like you can also do manual replay saves as well by press L1 after you complete a hole. I’ve seen the L1 manual save option on the screen after completing a hole and I see the spot on the replays menu for manual replay saves. I didn’t find out about it until I was done with matches last night or I would have saved some for fun. It looks like the replays the game saves for you automatically are chip in shots for birdies, eagles, and one other thing I can’t remember. Pretty cool feature I think, I like that kind of stuff. The game also tracks lots of user specific stats for you like your fairway %, longest drives, putting accuracy, etc. Good stuff for sure.
The first negative I’ve seen so far in this game is that you only have 6 courses (only one available at the start of the game too). That seems too little for a $60 PS3 game. I’m pretty confident we’ll see a new course through DLC, but that’ll probably add another $10 to the game price and that makes me sad because I know I’ll buy it anyway. Also there are only 2 characters to use at the beginning of the game and that one course. That’s not that big of a deal because like I said, I like unlocking things in games like this, but it’s pretty limited if you don’t feel like going through and unlocking at the beginning. The biggest negative I have for the game is that there is no online in-game communication through the mic. That’s just plain lazy IMO. If I was scoring this game, it would lose a whole point because of that omission. But no mic is really the only thing that really irks me about this game because it plays wonderfully. I wish I wasn’t so tired last night so that I could have played a few more matches.
The game does also have that initial 10 minute install that some of us heard about ahead of time. Since I knew about it, I was prepared for it and it didn’t bother me, it gave me a chance to skim through the manual some. It’s like a 3 GB install though, but there really isn’t much loading time in the game between matches so it’s worth it.
So basically if I was going to give this game a score out of 10, I’d start by giving it a 10 because the gameplay is great. But then I’d take a whole point away for not having the mic online. I wouldn’t take off any points from the score for graphics because the game is just beautiful from the courses to the characters. I might take one point away because there aren’t many customization options in terms of music during the game. I’d also take off 3 points for the lack of courses. So I guess after my initial impressions score would be a 8.6. I like the game a lot, but I just can’t believe they didn’t put in mic capabilities playing online. I’m sure 90% of my gaming time with this game will be offline, so the mic isn’t an issue, but it’s just too big of an omission to forget about. Great game though, I will definitely have a lot of fun making my way through the challenge mode.