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Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc.
Developer: Clap Hanz Limited
The first golf game for PlayStation Vita continues Sony's lighthearted sports series that began in 1998. Once again players will choose one of several male or female characters and compete on an assortment of courses while earning experience points to customize their golfer's attributes. The swing system still follows a timing-based control scheme, with players influencing both power and accuracy as a line automatically travels up and down an arc-shaped meter.
New features are designed to take advantage of the system's distinctive hardware. Players can freely look around the course simply by moving the Vita in any direction, while golfers can be repositioned by "pinching" and dragging them with the touch-screen interface. In addition to computer-controlled opponents, players can challenge others in a choice of online options. A turn-based mode involves sending your scores to friends and vice versa, similar to play-by-email games on a computer. A daily tournament option lets you compete offline and then upload your results online, while real-time tournaments support up to 30 players for simultaneous action. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: Online Pass Activation Code
Hot Shots Golf makes its PS Vita debut with gorgeous graphics and gameplay that is virtually identical to the last iteration in the series and the one before that. Developer Clap Hanz hasn't altered its approach to each new installment for quite some time, seemingly content to release the same game over and over again with only modest improvements. In this case, the developers have released a golf game on a touch-screen handheld without even attempting a motion-controlled swing.
While there are multiple swing options, some of which have to be unlocked, the developers missed a big opportunity to use the system's rear touch pad for something different. This familiarity continues with the game's overall design, with players once again completing a series of challenges on courses to level up your pre-selected golfer's ranking and earn points to purchase things like outfits, golf balls, clubs, and in-game features, such as a manually controlled camera.
The heart of the game, the challenge mode, features a series of progressively challenging tiers that each consist of five different events. Each time you win an event, you'll receive a gold star and move one step closer to challenging a rival golfer in a head-to-head matchup as in the previous Hot Shots games. Win this matchup and you'll unlock your opponent for use in the main game. Apart from the challenge mode, there's a practice option and the ability to play any of the unlocked courses. There's also ad hoc and online support for multiplayer competition, with the latter offering daily tournaments.
Each daily tournament involves playing on one pre-determined course under specific rule conditions. Once you've finished, you'll upload your results online and compare how you did against other online players. There are no prizes or special items to win, and there's no separate leveling or experience-based character progression that's tied to your online profile. It basically has the same feel as the challenge mode event.
On a positive note, the game looks fantastic and plays just as well as earlier entries in the series. The game is also more of a challenge than previous titles, with courses offering some tricky slopes, stiff wind, fast greens, and plenty of hazards as you increase your ranking. Each of the six courses offers a different theme inspired by different places across the globe, along with the typical Hot Shots humor. You'll see a family of bears stroll across the Canada course, for example, or animated threshing machines in a course inspired by America's heartland.
World Invitational is a fine launch title that could have been so much more. As with previous titles in the series, there's a high amount of replay value, but it's disappointing the developers couldn't push for more play modes, options, or incorporate the system's distinctive controls in a more creative way than altering the camera. A career mode, a create-golfer option, a course designer, or a new swing system would have helped this game stand out. World Invitational is not the definitive Hot Shots Golf game, with the developers shooting for par instead of the moon, but it should nonetheless please those who temper their expectations. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.