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In Memory
Sean Pettibone



 

 




You wonít find Tiger Woods in Sonyís Hot Shots Golf 3 for the Playstation2 but you will find a zany sports title with loads of hidden extras. This is the latest installment in the popular series and stays true to the formula the made the earlier games so addictive and popular. Itís got some wacky extra features and some cool hidden modes, but the game offers a solid physics and golf feel underneath. Hot Shots Golf 3 isnít an exacting simulation of the sport, but isnít excessively exaggerated either. Instead, the title offers a good balance between the two genres.

Players looking for something a little bit different in their sports titles should definitely check out Hot Shots Golf 3 for the PS2. While it takes a light-hearted approach, thereís still plenty of options included. HSí features list is impressive and it offers 15 different golfers, 7 zany caddies, six unique courses and a bevy of play options. There are several types of play included and these give Hot Shots plenty of variety for both solo and multiplayer games. The modes include: Single Rounds for stroke play, short courses with only 9 holes, practice modes, and two types of tournaments: regular and National Tournament. One of the cool things is that in National Tournament, you get a password that can be used to check your scores against players on the internet. There are several methods to unlock hidden items and characters. Players can initially select from only a few golfers but can unlock more by defeating them in the Vs. Mode. There are a limited number of courses, but additional courses are unlocked in the Tournament mode. There are different rules for different types of rounds and players will also face different weather conditions in each course, such as rainy or clear. The biggest factor is the wind, which can either be calm with little effect on the shots or windy enough to make a very difficult round.

The scoring system is a bit more elaborate than youíd expect, since you are judged not only be the number of strokes, but also how you perform on the green. In the long course, players get points for par, bogeys and other types of shots, but lose points when they take too many shots or hit the ball into a water obstacle or out of bounds. In tournament mode, you play against the computer and have to beat them in order to progress. However, if you fall too many strokes behind your opponent, the game is automatically forfeited. This added point system makes the game much more interesting because these bonus points can be used in the shop to buy some really cool extra items, such as new caddies, weather capsule and other special items. Once you get on the course, the view is behind the golfer. On the screen, you can see wind direction, distance from the hole, elevation, plus your current score and the par for the hole youíre on. While the default club is usually the best for each hole, you can also go on your own and select which of the many clubs you want to use. The game offers a good selection of woods and irons. Which one you use depends on the situation but the game helps you because each club is displayed with a number that shows the distance each club can go. There are two types of shots. The first you need to learn are the standard course shots, where youíre on the course and need to make long shots to reach the green. Once youíve made it to the green, the game display changes to a grid pattern, and your club changes to a putter. In this area, you need to be precise and judge exactly, since this is where the trickiest part of the game lies. To help make shots or get a good sense of perspective, you can also adjust the camera to get a better view of the overall course or zoom in to see the details.

Hot Shots Golf 3 has a decent interface is quite intuitive and makes playing the game simple. Hot Shots implements a traditional Power Gauge shot bar thatís quite similar to the ones most golf titles use. This shows not only the distance your shot will travel, but also the distance to the hole, which is quite useful. The cursor moves to the left, to use shot strength, then to the right to control the timing of the stroke. This system is accessible, even for those who may not be familiar with the sport. The displays are all crisp and easy to understand and makes controlling your shots easy. The trick is getting your timing down so you can hit the ball at the center area of the bar. Doing this will make a great shot, which will make your life easier but mis-timing your button presses can lead to either a dud shot or a disaster, as you watch your ball sinking into a water trap. The good news is that when you hit a ball into the water, the game doesnít make you perform that move again, and just like real golf, you are placed at the beginning of the water. You also have to look out for trees, which can ruin a beautiful drive. You should also avoid hitting your ball onto a hill, since it has a way of rolling down the hills, usually into a sand trap or water. With all the ob Itís quite a task to master all the nuances of the many challenging courses, though the sand traps arenít nearly as hard to get out of as I expected them to be. This gives HS a good sense of realism, so donít worry, this isnít one of those miniature golf titles that loses its appeal once the novelty wears off.

Most of the courses can be quite challenging, with layouts that put many obstacles in your way, such as sand traps, water and hills, though there are some simpler 9 hole, 3 par modes which are good for practicing your moves. Still, playing some of the courses can be quite tricky but you can help yourself a great deal by studying the layout of each course before each match. One of the great things about the title is that it has a very realistic sense of physics, and while there are some special moves included, for the most part, the reactions and action of the balls on the green are very realistic which makes the game quite addictive and enjoyable, leading to hours of challenging gameplay that hooks you right from the start. Itís surprisingly fun and works from a number of perspectives. Playing the courses requires a great deal of skill, and it will take some time before you become proficient. Really mastering the gameís nuances isnít an easy task, though you can gain some level of competence early on, thanks to the simple interface.

Despite the realistic physics modeling and challenging course designs, this isnít the usual boring golf game. Hot Shotsí zany caddies run around the course after your ball with a manic gusto that makes them fun to watch as they scurry about. They also talk to you and comment on the action with either positive or disparaging remarks, depending on how youíre doing. Hot Shotsí golfers themselves are likewise a wacky bunch and the voice-overs and animation of these characters gives them a lot of personality, though unlocking new characters can be a slow process. Visually, the game is decent looking with excellent graphics and animation making it easy and fun to play. In the end, the title offers a good balance between fun and realism, with many secrets, cool courses and golfers plus a variety of cool special moves hidden features. This offering of secrets gives the player an impetus to keep playing, but the coolest feature is the ability to compete in the online tournaments. With all its features and surprisingly deep gameplay, Hot Shots Golf 3 offers a good balance of fun extras and challenge and is should even appeal to non-golf fans.




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