Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV RequiredWhen the PlayStation Vita premiered in February, Sony needed a handful of first party games that really accentuated the system’s unique abilities. Seeing as golf is a sport that requires concentration, and coordination, as well as problem solving skills and the perfect timing to hit a tiny white ball with a club, Hot Shots Golf World Invitational is a perfect opportunity to show off the Vita’s features. But did Sony hit a hole in one, or did they slice it into a water hazard?

Hot Shots Golf World Invitational is once again developed by longtime creator, Clap Hanz Limited, and it continues to be one of those games that pop up on every PlayStation system to garner a pretty substantial following. Partly, this is because Hot Shots, when stripped of all of its cartoony characters, and cutesy interfaces is actually an incredible golf simulation.

Regardless of the ridiculously cute anime-styled babe swinging the club, the player must still focus on the situation, the wind speed and direction, the type of club, the type of lay, and the distance needed to get the little ball to its home. And that is where Hot Shots excels like no other.

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

The gameplay, as expected, is solid. Hot Shots uses both the front and back touch screens to set up shots, and the actual swing is still executed by button presses. Also, the built in Six Axis motion control allows the player to look around the course, measure fairways and greens, all in real time movements. As any golfer will tell you, the more info you have before you swing the club the better that shot will be. And the Vita gives the player ample options to gather that info.

It’s also important to understand that the game does not pull punches. There have been plenty of times where all I needed was to hit par on a hole that I have birdied countless times before to win a tourney, and then all hell breaks loose. I miss my shot on the drive and I misjudge the wind speed blowing in. My ball lands deep in a bunker, and even after I hit the green, a simple putt turns into chaos due to a steep break. My tourney victory evaporates just like that. It sucks, but it happens. Do not let the cartoon golfer fool you; this game can be harsh.

The graphics are the usual, cartoony characters set in realistic environs. There is some strange digitation of shadows and fringe things in the background like trees and structures. And inexplicably, animals, such as grizzly bears and deer, and squirrels seem to live right on the golf courses. The player can touch the animals with the front touch screen and they will react, but that wears thin after the first time.

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

The music and voice acting are on par with previous Hot Shots titles. The music is relaxing and is a great soundtrack to play to. The voice acting is much of the same, which means that it’s fun at first, but wears thin before long – especially the caddie. After hearing the same thing for 9, or 18 holes, in every tournament I have played, I could live the rest if my life never having to hear her speak to me ever again. Unfortunately, I have not found a way to tune her out in-game.

The bread and butter of Hot Shots Golf World Invitational for the PS Vita is the online components. There are tournaments that allow the player to play golf with people from around the world. You can also challenge friends to a game (provided you both have a Vita and a copy of the game, no system passing) and your scores are posted on an international leaderboard for the entire world to see.

In fact, Hot Shots seems tailored to its online modes. Winning matches and tournaments earns points and rewards that can be used to unlock new characters – each with their own strengths and weaknesses – and clubs, and outfits, and accessories, and all of it is designed to give the player a better online tournament experience.

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

The lobby is vast and clean and is easy to navigate. There is also a community park where players can take their avatars to mingle with other players around the world. It’s a good way to find a game online with someone from another part of the world.

There is also a Daily International Tournament that, you guessed it, changes daily. This is a good way to play new courses, and put your scores against scores from other golfers. It’s unique and gives the game an unprecedented level of replayability.

The LiveArea features the usual owner’s manual and refresh buttons, but also includes a links to the official website, and the PlayStation Store for additional DLC, and a direct link right to the Daily International Challenge.

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

Hot Shots Golf World Invitational is not a reinvention of a franchise that has entertained gamers for over 13 years. It is more of the same, but now it is completely mobile with the power of the PS Vita and comes with a plethora of online features and challenges and opportunities to play folks from all over the world (hence the title).

Using touch controls and playing new courses never gets old, as each game is an opportunity to shave strokes off your score. With a ton of unlockable content, including characters, courses, and clubs, there are many reasons to keep playing. The best thing that Sony and Clap Hanz could have done is at least make the game fun, and that they did.

Shop for Hot Shots Golf World Invitational foon PS Vita for a discounted price at (February 13, 2012 release date).

Hot Shot Golf World Invitational Review: No Green Jacket or TV Required

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