We don't know if this'll be in the final retail version of the game, but we were annoyed to see that Hot Shots Golf, just like Devil May Cry 4, features a required installation at game launch. In fact, with about 5GB of data being installed onto the PS3 drive, it's just as lengthy as Capcom's action game. We were surprised by this -- we didn't have our sandwiches ready for the long-haul.
Once in the game, we saw a few stray items left over from the Japanese build of the game. We can't wait to see if these features get localized. One option allowed players to access the Minna no Golf website from the game, while another option was a video tutorial on how to navigate the game. Certainly, that'll be helpful for the casual gamers that'll flock to this surprisingly deep offering.
Jumping into a new golf career is pretty simple. At first, there are only two characters available, but the menu hints at a much more diverse cast of characters. There are only two costume choices for each, and two clubs to choose from the beginning -- it's clear that collectors are going to have a lot of choices when it comes to customization later on in the game.
There are two swing options, one which Hot Shots regulars should be more than familiar with. However, the new Advanced mode offers an interesting new take on the genre. In this mode, you'll have to rely less on an HUD, and more on your character's animation. Press X to initiate the swing, and you'll see the club being swung upwards. Press X again, and you'll determine the character's swing power. At first, it may be hard to gauge power in this mode. It was a little frustrating at first, as we were unable to get the maximum power out of our swings. Worse still, precision was hard to come by, and we often missed those tricky approach shots.
However, there are a few things to make note of. The club will give a hint as to when it's at 50% strength, and it will briefly flash yellow. At maximum strength, it will flash red. These two points must be used to help players gauge their swing power. It essentially recreates the same percentage meter as the original swing mode, but in a more natural way. It's a novel concept, but we're still undecided on whether or not it's an "upgrade" from the original. Perhaps we're too traditional?
We haven't been able to try the game's online offerings yet, but they're in the main menu, tempting us all the time. Considering how solid the gameplay experience is offline we're confident that going online will be quite a blast.
Hot Shots Golf was one of Japan's earlier titles, and as such, it's already starting to show off its age. It's still quite an attractive game, but having seen so many other PS3 titles really push the envelope, the visuals of Out of Bounds may seem a bit dated for some. Also, we're a little disappointed that the Japanese voice acting hasn't survived the transition to the US version (at least, not in this build!). We loved it when our golfers said "nice shotto!" Please Sony? Can you restore the original voice acting for the final release? We're more than certain you can fit it on the Blu-ray disc.
Stay tuned next month as we offer our final review of the game.