The Hot Shots Golf series has always been popular on the PlayStation 2. Its silly characters and quick as lightning arcade-style gameplay has always attracted those gamers who can’t be bothered with the sim-like qualities of the Tiger Woods series. Now we have the fourth installment in the Hot Shots series, cleverly named “Fore” (get it…four…fore, what a hilarious play on words), and is a game which scores just about par with us.
First off, let me say that I am not one of those folks who love the Hot Shots series. Personally, I find it a bit too arcade-y for my liking. But hey, it’s always worth giving a new game a fair shake. And so I fired up Fore, hoping it might offer something new and refreshing to the series. Frankly, it doesn’t – it’s more of an expansion pack for the last version of the game, as it lacks anything new or innovative (outside of online support) to make me think of it as anything but an expansion pack for its predecessor.
Gameplay mechanics follow the same old-school stylings of the previous games. Swings are handled in a three-button tap format, which reduces any hope of real precision in your swing. For some reason, there seems to be an ugly delay between the time when you hit the button, and when the character actually responds. This leads to plenty of flubbed shots when you first start playing. Once you learn to compensate for the lag, things get better. However, you never feel as if you’re getting a solid grasp on your swing. The swing system does offer extra options to control spin, bounce and hook/slice, but only advanced players should dare use them.
Online gameplay, the main update to the Hotshots series, is smooth, yet far too simplistic. There are basically two online game formats: a four-man group game and online tourneys. Both do the job, but there really should be more options for a game introduced this late into the online game. The online lobbies and menu systems are really basic; so don’t expect to be too impressed here. And could Sony please streamline their login processes for all their online games? Please! Seriously guys, I really don’t care if it’s authenticating DNAS data, just log me into the game ASAP.
Graphically, the game isn’t much different than its predecessor, with its cartoony character models and cartoon balloons that pop up from the crowd. The golf courses are an interesting visual mix, with some parts being very cartoon-like, and others, like the water, looking very realistic. It’s odd to hit a ball into a flat-looking sandtrap that lacks any shadows or depth, yet when you hit water, you get great splash and ripple effect. Hit a tree, and the leaves scatter, birds fly and well, it looks real. Hit sand, and you barely put a dent in it, the ball just lies down dead in a field of gray-brown.
The sound in Hot Shots Golf: Fore is absolutely grating. The characters have a limited amount of dialog, and they let you know it. It seems like you hear the same phrase from your caddy 20-30 times in a simple 18-hole round. The music isn’t much better, and as a whole, Fore will have you playing with the volume turned off 99% of the time.
As a whole, Hot Shots Golf: Fore really isn’t a bad game, but there’s nothing about it that makes it much better than average. If you’re a fan of the series, then you’ll enjoy this, though possibly feel like you’ve paid full price for what is basically an expansion pack introducing some new mini-games, online support and extra characters (like Ratchet and Clank.) If you’re new to the series, I’d suggest renting it first.
- Gameplay: 7
- Old school arcade golf with some online additions
- Graphics: 7
- Cutesy characters mix with some out of place elements of realism
- Sound: 3
- Best played with the volume set to OFF
- Replay: 7
- Online gameplay, new characters and tons of unlockables
- Overall: 7
- Fans should buy, newcomers should rent
— Craig Falstaff