“Big Hitter, Da Lamma”
Clap Hanz has got arcade golf down. The last few editions of their Hot Shots Golf series have been very well executed, and Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is hardly an exception. Open Tee 2 marks the return of the wacky golf title to the PSP. The gameplay mechanics are by no means innovative, but the addition of online multiplayer is a complete game changer. Fans of the Hot Shot series won’t find a whole lot that’s new, but the 12 challenging courses and hundreds of character customization options are very enjoyable indeed.
For the uninitiated, Hot Shots Golf may seem like an overly simplistic title. Veterans on the other hand find the series irresistible. The game combines outlandish course design, RPG-like ability modifications, and tons of unlockable and customizable characters. Furthermore, gameplay is very similar to the EA PGA Tour titles of old. That is to say, very solid, three-button meter controls with challenging courses and varying conditions.
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 sports four modes of play including Challenge Mode, Stroke Play, Minigame, and Training. Challenge Mode takes players on a golfing tour while opening up twelve courses, gear, accessories, skills, and abilities. Challenge Mode has a variety of competitive formats to choose from including match play showdowns, stroke play tourneys, and unlockable Vs. matches. Stroke Play mode allows you to play a course that you’ve opened, achieve your personal best, and even accrue points.
Challenge mode is the main mode of play. It implements a card system that both customizes and improves upon the skills of your characters. The cards are divided into three separate categories: Head, Body, and Accessory. These cards, in turn, grant increases in control, power, and spin respectively. As you acquire cards, you will not only be awarded with the hair (or hat), outfit, or accessory shown on the card, but you’ll also be ranked up in the skill governed by the card once you fill the quota. Additionally, new Vs. matches will be available when you fill the quota. By challenging the new opponent and winning, you will be given access to that new player. Vs. matches start out being very simple, but as you progress, your opponents become quite challenging indeed!
The “Minigame” section only has one game to select. It’s a fun offering, but it’s also a bit light. The mini-game features a nine hole, hole-in-one challenge that has you take aim at one of three cups on various greens. Each cup is worth different amounts of points depending on the difficulty of its placement. Landing on the green simply isn’t good enough; you’ll have to actually sink the shot. Don’t worry too much though; the cups are all placed at the bottom of wells on the green. The biggest challenge is selecting the right club and judging the wind and the roll just right to make sure you get the ball into the right cup. This mode was quite fun, and sinking shots directly from the tee box with different iron selections is a great way to work on your approach play.
Finally, like other Hot Shots titles, a full-on Training mode is included. Training allows players to choose any hole from any course they’ve opened. Moreover, you can change hole selection at anytime, you can redo shots, or even advance to the next hole on the course without actually finishing. The Training mode is very flexible, user-friendly, and does a very good job of helping you master the most difficult sections of specific holes.
Multiplayer functionality is simply perfect! It was very easy to hop online, get matched to a bunch of players, and the pacing was phenomenal. This even holds true for matches with 16 players! The only minor issue I found with online play was the one-minute wait between each hole. It felt a little slow, but you are allowed to access a bunch of situation-appropriate chat features to chew the fat with your online partners. Furthermore, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 allows you to play with up to seven other friends locally via Ad-Hoc functionality. I don’t expect Ad-Hoc play to be used frequently, but it’s nice to be able to play with friends in your living room or with your siblings on a long car ride.
The presentation is classic Hot Shots! The upbeat tunes, cutesy characters, and nature stills are all present and accounted for. The game, especially the courses, looks great. There are tons of great accessories to unlock, and they all do a great job making your characters look distinct.
I also enjoyed the basic control scheme of this title. It is very easy to view the course, change camera angles, and work club selection. The retro, three-button controls is a tried and true method that most will find to be very accessible. Also, Power Tuning is a very nice feature that allows you to increase or decrease the distance by pressing Triangle or Circle at impact rather than the standard X button. Finally, adding spin to the ball couldn’t be easier. By pressing the D-pad in the desired direction, you will be able to fade and draw the ball as well as stop it on the green and get extra run out of your drives.
There are a lot of options you can change as well, and even some that you can unlock. For example, I really liked the data function. Video clips of important accomplishments such as Chip-in Birdies, Hole-in-Ones, and Double Eagles are saved to be reviewed later. Furthermore, a host of statistics are kept so you can keep an eye on your golfing skill. These stats can be viewed by character, course, putts, and even online results.
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is full of challenge and great unlockables. The 12 courses included are very interesting and boast quite distinct terrain. I had a bunch of fun opening up all of the unlockable characters and cards in the single-player mode, but the online multiplayer tournaments were the most enjoyable. Being able to customize my favorite character my way, equip him appropriately, and then head out to the links for a little friendly competition was great! It made the arduous process of opening up the goodies far more rewarding. This title is the perfect companion for the PSP and one I highly recommend. If you already own the original title for the PSP, it is still worth giving it a look because there are new courses, more collectibles, and an online feature that can’t be beat.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The visuals are classic Hot Shots! The cutesy characters and nature stills are all present and accounted for. 4.3 Control
Nicely executed three-button meter controls will be familiar to nearly all golfing fans. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The on-course sounds are nice, but caddies can get a bit annoying. 4.2 Play Value
The single-player is both fun and lengthy, while the online multiplayer feature cannot be beat! 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.