Beautiful blue skies and freshly cut grass can only mean one thing – it’s golf time! The Hot Shots Golf franchise makes its way into the high definition era with Hot Shots Gold: Out of Bounds. Featuring revamped graphics and more accurate golf physics, Out of Bounds brings an exciting new level of depth to the already established signature style of the series. While the title hasn’t radically reinvented the franchise for the current generation, the game offers vibrant new courses and characters as well as some hefty online features.
Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds features over 15 playable characters and six different courses, all with their own unique appearance. You’re able to configure the characters’ skills — power, control, and accuracy — in addition to their clothing. Expect some load times, but nothing that is too much. The game is simple to maneuver, allowing players of any age to jump right in and play.
There are numerous single-player and multiplayer modes, including VS mode, Training mode, Stroke mode, Tournament mode, match Play Mode and other several others, resulting in a truly a diverse golfing experience. The newest Hot Shots Golf mode is Advanced Shot mode. Advanced Shot mode plays almost identically to Traditional, albeit the visual signs of when to strike are relegated to the character’s swing motion rather than a standard power gauge.
Just as in the previous iterations of Hot Shot Golf, you’ll have to configure the direction to adjust where the ball will go. Once you’re satisfied, press the X button to initiate a swing. An almost transparent image of the golf club is placed to make the trajectory a bit easier for beginners. The club will flash yellow, then red; these are queues to launch the swing power. At this point, you’ll begin the swing mechanism and watch the upwards progression, hitting X at any time to start your downswing. This is how the power of stroke is set. Once the club begins the downswing, you’ll notice a white circle enclosing on the center of the ball. Here’s the query; hit the ball while the circle is minuscule and the ball will be blasted with great accuracy, but miss the circle entirely and your swing will be utterly botched.
The second the ball is stroked, timing and trajectory physics take over. One of four icons will then appear signifying the prowess — or lack thereof — of your swing. A turtle suggests that X was hit too late, while a rabbit is displayed if you jumped the gun. The skull means that X wasn’t pressed within the allowed time period, and finally a music note symbolizes that the shot was timed just right.
Players will need to play strategically in order to succeed, taking into consideration not just the power meter, but the takeaway and impact zones, the course layout, weather, terrain, and club selection. Larger playable environments let you play your errant tee shot from a neighboring hole, or perhaps take aim at a different fairway and use it as a shortcut to a better hit the next shot.
While the traditional putting stroke with the traditional shot meter is still an option, a special putting stroke was placed in the game to take emphasis off the power meter. With that interface absent, you become noticeably further engulfed in one of the game’s many detailed and vibrant environments. One quibble lies in the reading the greens, which can be tricky every so often on about half of the courses. Regardless, the anime-esque characters look brilliantly stylized, whilst all of the courses are appealing to the eyes.
Meanwhile, Out of Bounds’ audio is solid and fit the game’s manner. Small touches like the little handclapping in the background are appreciated. The music however, while not disappointing, isn’t memorable.
The game offers customizable tournaments with up to 50 other players as well as single matches, which can hold up to eight players. Simply enter the online lobby and personalize your character whilst sending messages and setting up matches. In between the rounds, you’re able to head to the PlayStation Store to download content. At the moment only videos are available, but later playable characters, courses, clubs, and clothing will be offered as well.
Hot Shot Golf 5 offers an enormous amount of statistics that allows you to measure how you play versus the competition. Track game data through each round or compare skills in categories such as best average score, driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulations, par pace percentage, average putt length, holes-in-one, putting accuracy and so on. The amount of depth in the stat tracking system is certainly appreciated.
Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is an entertaining and challenging experience. This delightful PS3 title should satiate the desires of gamers eight to 80 with its well-crafted gameplay mechanics, lush visuals and vast replay value (which stems from its immense amount of modes and options). Simply put, the title offers plenty of bang for your buck. This game really is “more fun than a hole in one.”