HOT SHOTS GOLF: OPEN TEE / Sony / PSP
 
 
I missed the PS2 entries, but Open Tee is at least a definite improvement over the PS1 games in some of their problem areas -- namely putting, graphics and the three-press slider being a little iffy.

The swing slider is dead-on in this one, you've only got yourself to blame if you screw it up. The game also returns to the cartoony character style of the original game, but with nicer character models. And, thankfully, putting is less of a matter of frustrating guesswork now thanks to "speed lines" that give you an idea of how steep the green is.

Sadly, even though it's a better experience than the PS1 games, it's still not enough to be great. Putting still has a frustrating "guesswork" element to it even with the indicator lines, and how wind will affect your shot is also still really difficult to tell.

The game also has some assy little unrealistic difficulty tweaks, like the cup is notoriously finicky and the game is really petty about robbing you of awesome eagles/birdies you should have had. The cup is also spin-happy and likes to unrealistically send your ball off in another direction with magic jet propulsion if you're anywhere near the lip. And if you're off on your stroke even a tiny bit, I'm pretty sure the game is programmed to magnetically draw the ball to the nearest water hazard, sand trap or tree within range, even if it's totally unrealistic for your shot to wind up there.

I would have actually let all that stuff slide and gave it a 4 anyway since it's still enjoyable, polished and kinda addictive even with all those little quirks. But the dealbreaker for me is making you play FOREVER with only the two starting characters and one course before you even unlock another course (let alone more characters). You will get BEYOND SICK of the Alps course as you work your way through Challenge mode, which is the meat of single-player mode. "The hillls are aliiiive ... with the sound of shankiiiing!"

Unlocking a new piece of kit each match is a nice impetus to keep playing, and I like how most challenges are 9-hole instead of forcing you to play a full course, but it seems like cheap padding to try to distract you from the fact that there's only six courses and you're stuck on each one for hours. And while the gameplay is good, it isn't totally there yet ... call the Mario Golf games the "babby" version if you will, I still think they're more fun and engaging than the Hot Shots series on the whole. This isn't a bad pickup for a portable casual golf game, but don't spend more than a few bucks on it.
 
 
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