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Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Review

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On 03/08/2012 at 11:38 PM by Nick DiMola

It may just be a golf game, but it’s one of the best in the Vita launch line-up.

Fans of golf or the series will absolutely be engaged by this launch title.

Despite its colorful and inviting presentation, Hot Shots Golf has always been about providing a near-simulation golf experience. Like real golf, every shot counts. In order to post the lowest scores and win the most tournaments you must analyze the wind, the course’s construction, its slopes, and even the weather conditions. Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational carries the torch to the PlayStation Vita providing nearly the exact same tight experience the series has offered for years.

Given the introduction of the touch pad on the Vita, you may believe that developer Clap Hanz has sought to utilize its functionality to swing at the ball. However, that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, there’s almost no indication you’re playing the game on the brand new handheld, aside from its crisp and colorful graphics. This isn’t to say there’s no utilization of the system’s unique abilities – there are – but in all cases, their use is outside of the core gameplay. You can tap critters to make them scurry on the front touch screen or move your fingers along the rear touch pad for a description of the terrain at that given location. You can tap anything menu related on the screen as well, but none of it gets in the way of playing the game.

For those not familiar with the Hot Shots/Everybody’s Golf series, it’s fairly straightforward. Hitting the ball is a cinch - you aim in the direction you desire then start up a meter that will determine the strength of your shot and how straight you’ll hit the ball. All you need to do is stop it at the right time and you’ll find yourself landing shots exactly where you desire.

With many courses at your disposal, there’s plenty to master. Each hole has its own set of impediments and general challenges. As you play more and more you’ll begin to recognize each course and understand how to properly navigate around the challenges. Sometimes you’ll have to take a risk and send a ball careening over a set of trees or between the spaces of manmade structures, like houses and windmills that block quick passage to the hole. There’s no question that Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is all about mastery, both of the controls and the courses.

The only system in the game that seems almost impossible to master is the putting. It’s very hard to accurately view the green and determine its slopes and imperfections. As such, each and every time you get up to putt, there’s a degree of guesswork. This also holds true in other precision shots. Say for instance that you want to chip the ball over an object on the course; it can be very hard to determine how much loft you’ll actually achieve with your shot. In most cases, I would take the conservative route and grab a wedge or high iron just to make sure I didn’t flub the shot. Some more subtle indicators would have been helpful in these rarer instances.

Most of these worries fade away as you progress through the single player quest. With each and every shot you take you’ll earn currency that can be spent at the in-game shop to buy all sorts of upgrades, characters, courses, balls, and clubs. Having some competition also gives you some motivation to perform better in order to stay ahead of the group. It also serves to amplify the tension behind each shot, making the overall experience more engaging.

Outside of the vast single player mode, Hot Shots Golf also features an online component that works like a charm. Whether challenging friends head to head, or participating in the frequent tournaments, everything works just as you’d expect. The mode certainly isn’t the main draw of the game, but it provides a healthy helping of content to reel you back in after completing the mainline quest.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is another solid entry in the series and one that Vita owners who enjoy the sport should pick up. Just don’t be mislead by its colorful façade; this is a challenging golf game that makes no concessions.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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