Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
: Clap Hanz
: Sony Computer Entertainment
: PlayStation Vita
: February 22, 2012
The Sony PlayStation exclusive Hot Shots Golf series makes a welcome debut on the PlayStation Vita. The game has a steep learning curve that makes you feel like an authentic golfer when you get things down pat. With colorful characters and beautiful landscapes, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is a welcome addition to your PlayStation Vita library.
Not much of a story to be had considering the genre of the game. That being said, as with other sports based games, here’s what’s going on in Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. The player stars as an up and coming golfer. With multiple and unique characters to choose from, the competition to be the tournament’s best golfer is a fierce one. Given the subtitle of “World Invitational”, expect to see some diversity in the fun characters and in the multiple golf courses in which you’ll be competing in.
World Invitational is a beautiful looking game. The cartoon style characters and the world they inhabit are represented marvelously on the Vita’s impressive five inch screen. There’s no noticeable lag, which means the movements of the characters are as smooth as can be. Additionally the physics engine, given the art style of the game, is also something to be admired. Grass, trees, and especially water all look great in high definition. So it can be said that Hot Shots: World Invitational certainly has a strong graphical prowess among the other launch titles for the Vita.
As you would expect in participating in a real golf tournament, peace and quiet can be experienced playing the game with a good pair of head phones. Wind blows as you look over and line up your shot. You can hear it rustle the leaves and pass through the branches of the trees, and even the sound of water swishing back and forth. These sound effects are all so tranquil and work so well that you remember you’re playing a golf game. Taking your time to make a perfect shot helps when you have ambience playing in the background. Characters will also express their outlook on their performance by either sounding enthusiastic when they make a great shot or solemn when they mess up. I couldn’t help but associate with their expressions when I performed an action accordingly.
Music is peppy and lively when navigating the game’s various menus, but settles down during a match as it should.
The best piece of advice one could give you for golfing, either in actuality or in a video game, is to do your best. Practice doesn’t hurt either. Practice makes perfect and those words of wisdom ring true for World Invitational. Unless you have a general understanding of how the Hot Shots games work, then the game’s learning curve should come easy to you. If not, then no worries. I’m not too familiar with golfing games, so going into World Invitational I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out with a bit of practice, I was getting some good shots in. In fact, you can start off your golfing career using the game’s very helpful tutorial mode, which breaks down the lessons you need to know to be a skilled Hot Shots golfer.
Another good thing to be aware of is that there are many characters to choose from, provided that you unlock them by spending your points. Each character has their own stats, meaning their strengths and weaknesses on the golf course. For example, power and handling will differ from one character to the next, and it’s best to have a well rounded character to come out of each tournament assured that you’re getting the gold. While power may sound appealing, too much of a good thing isn’t always best. For that reason you can customize your character’s load out by spending your in-game rewarded points, or if you receive data with the Vita’s near feature, on new clubs and golf balls.
There are different ways to play the game. To go about swinging and hitting your golf ball relies on a power gauge that determines how far your ball will fly. There are two types of gauges you can choose from: a horizontal, circular, and an arrow based gauge. It’s a matter of preference, but what really matters is your timing and accuracy when plotting your swing. On the gauge will appear a symbol that indicates where you’ll have to place your input into in order to get your ball as close to the hole as possible. The closer you place your marker to this indicator means a greater likelihood that you’ll make an ideal shot.
The game will start off generously easy but will gradually increase in difficulty the further you progress. This is where the challenging part of the game lies as you’ll have to get yourself acclimated with wind direction, wind speed, as well as obstacles existing on the course such as sand traps, hills, open water, or even tall trees. Luckily, before you place your shot, you can use the game’s free roaming camera to survey your surroundings which goes a long way to help you make a great shot. I would recommend this because there’s no do over’s, with the exception of the game’s tutorial mode.
Typically, golf tournaments in the game are broken into either two 9 hole rounds, or the traditional complete 18 hole tour. You can expect your game time to last at least 20 minutes, depending on your skill and progression.
Given that the Vita has a touch screen, there are a few touch screen features that may interest you. The rear touch pad can be used as a secondary way to survey your surroundings, zooming in and out as you make the appropriate motions. A rather funny feature is when you pinch the front screen and rear touch pad to pick up your character to adjust their tee off position. They’ll squirm in midair as you adjust their placement, which is good for a little laugh. Finally, wildlife in the game may get in the way of your sights and you can actually “shoo” them away if you touch the screen where they’re located.
Along with the game’s practice mode, other modes you can expect to see include single round, challenge, and online. Single round acts as a quick game of sorts, where you can choose your character and head straight for the green. Challenge mode is what you’ve come to expect as traditional gameplay of the Hot Shot series. You’ll play an offline tournament against the game’s CPU where every win earns you experience points to spend on customizing your character. Lastly, online mode allows you to take the game online, or by ad hoc, to compete with other Hot Shots players. Online games can be customized to have certain gameplay features such as courses, what characters can be played, as well as the game’s length. In other words, rules can be adjusted to the host’s liking. So if you don’t see rules that interest you, there are still plenty more lobbies to choose from. Moreover, a highlight of online games is that they aren’t long or drawn out. Gamers playing online play the same hole at the same time, and everyone’s performance on every hole is recorded on that game’s leader board. Moreover, you can even type messages to the members of the lobby using the touch screen keyboard.
While the game may have its steep learning curve, that is reason enough to give the game its replay value. If perfection is your thing and you don’t mind taking your time to learn the ropes of gameplay, Hot Shots: World Invitational is a great golfing game that should suit your interest. Additionally, there are many characters that can be unlocked with their own unique features, and you can also spend accrued points to make your character more proficient. Alternate outfits and clothing colorization are present, so you can always keep your character looking new.
Finally, there are even daily challenges that need completing if you so desire. Because they change each passing day there’s something new and creative to look forward to.
Hot Shots: World Invitational seems to be the definitive golfing experience in its series. The physics engine will take some getting used to as you progress from one tournament to the next. You can expect the wind to blow your shot off course a few times, landing in a sand trap, in a pond, or bouncing off the side of a tree. It can cause you to pull your hair out in frustration, but it comes with the experience. Ultimately, it’s very learnable and you’ll feel like a golfing pro when you’re coming out of your challenges as the winner. The daily challenges and online modes are great reasons to come back to show your skills off. With colorful characters and colorful visuals, there’s plenty good reason to get yourself a copy of the game.