Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds Review

Hot Shots Golf has long been the arcade counterpart to the Tiger Woods franchise. Where Tiger provides golf aficionados with the ability to compete in PGA events at official courses with real players, Hot Shots allows us to have fun with the game in a way you just can’t in real life, or with real people. With that belief of fun-before-real behind them, Clap Hanz brings us Out of Bounds, the first Hot Shots game of the PS3-era.

While Out of Bounds is very similar to the past Hot Shots games (it is hard to make golf unique each installment, after all) there is one new feature which changes the way the game is played: the advanced shot. With the original Hot Shots games (and almost every golf game before it), swinging was composed of meters and percentages. With the new advanced shot, the emphasis is placed on your golfer and their motions. You begin the swing by pressing X, and as your character begins their backswing, you press X again to stop it for power, with only the ghost image of a full power swing, and a flashing yellow light indicating you’ve reached 50% power as your guide. After stopping the swing, a circle appears around your ball and quickly shrinks; your goal is to stop it as it’s small enough to just fill up the ball. Any larger, and your shot is less accurate. If you don’t stop it in time at all and wait too long, your shot is extremely off target.

If you got so used to the traditional method of play have no fear, as Clap Hanz allows gamers to choose between the new advanced and traditional modes. For my money, though, advanced instantly became the way to play Hot Shots. It immerses you in the golf action much more than the past games (Hot Shots or Tiger), and despite the frustration you may get at missing that easy putt, the feeling when you nail that impossible chip-in is intense. It forces you to focus on what’s going on in the game, rather than a meter at the bottom of the screen.

Outside of the new hit mode, things are pretty standard for a Hot Shots game. Playing the single player mode, you win events which unlock clubs, balls, and further colors for your golfer’s clothes, and also increase your loyalty, which allows you to hit more difficult shots among other things. Unfortunately there’s no way to create a golfer (but you can create an avatar for online play, which I’ll get to in a moment). The characters all have unique looks (and some have hilarious and cutesy animations), but it would have been nice to have some sort of a create-a-character with the power the PS3 has at its disposal.

Even though the single player play is par for the course (that was entirely unintentional), Clap Hanz really pulled it off with Hot Shots’ online. All of the issues that plagued the Japanese release are gone; what’s left is arguably the smoothest online sports play yet for the PSN. You can play with 8 players in a single game or 50 in a tournament, and all players play simultaneously. The only times you wait are at the end of the hole if you finish first, and it’s great to be able to zip through without having to wait for everyone to take their turn.

Your online avatars are your virtual presence in the lobby. Using items you’ve won and unlocked in single player, you can customize your little avatar as he wanders aimlessly, slides down stairs and chases woodland critters. Sadly, there’s no voice chat whatsoever in the lobby or game. It’s an odd thing to not include, and really takes away from the online experience. When the people I’m playing with only say a few predetermined phrases, it’s really no different than playing intelligent AI opponents.

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds isn’t a perfect game. While the new advanced shot meter helps keep the virtual sport more interesting than the real world counterpart and the new online play is solid, the little things add up. The inability to communicate with people online, the limited customization available for your golfers, and only 6 courses keep it from hitting that Great status. The promise of downloadable content is an appetizing one, so we’ll have to see what we get, and when we get it. I had hopes that Out of Bounds would be a hole-in-one, and what we got is a birdie. It’s good, but you can easily look back and see where it could have done better.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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