It's not easy reviewing Hot Shots Golf. Why? It's not because it's particularly bad -- no, in fact, the game is quite good. The franchise has a long legacy of high quality titles that date back to the PS1 era. However, how does one explain the merits of a game that has so subtly changed? Each iteration adds a bit more functionality, and refines the gameplay. However, the core mechanics have remained largely unchanged for a decade.
Open Tee 2 expands upon the original Open Tee game by adding more courses, more customization options and the biggest selling factor, online Infrastructure gameplay. For those that are familiar with the franchise, these additions may be enough to warrant another purchase. However, those that want more than the series' traditional 3-click swing mechanic have no reason to upgrade from the already-excellent original Open Tee.
Progression through Open Tee 2 should be familiar for series vets. The heart of the game comes from competing in various tournaments, unlocking characters, costumes and courses. Depending on one's performance, players can unlock various cards that unlock items. Once players acquire a set number of cards, a new challenger is made available to play with.
If this proves to be too much of a challenge, players can practice their skills in Practice mode, or play a number of mini-games that may prove to help your golf swing. Characters that are frequently used in the game earn loyalty points a la WipEout Pulse. Continue playing with one character, and you'll notice that his/her stats may improve. The customization options are generous, allowing you to create some truly zany characters. For example, if you really want a cross-dressing, convertible-driving pimp, you can make it.
The accessible nature of Hot Shots Golf has always been its main appeal, and that continues strong in Open Tee 2. It's very easy to learn how to play the game, and beginners can simply jump in and learn the ropes. Veterans will understand a bit more of the nuances, and will be able to perfect their shots by looking at the wind, slope, and conditions of the ground. However, because the gameplay has been largely unchanged, players may find themselves breezing through the courses with relative ease.
Those accustomed to PS3's recent Hot Shots Golf may need a few moments to adjust to the slight changes in the gameplay. Slopes are a bit harder to read on PS3, and players may find themselves over- or under-compensating for these shots. The Advanced swing mechanic that was highlighted in the PS3 version doesn't make an appearance here, and the virtual online lobby is absent.
Regardless, it's hard to fault a game that does so much right, and offers so much content. What we see in Open Tee 2 may be familiar. But for Hot Shots Golf fans, perhaps that's the only way we'd want it. For only $30, this is a great bargain and comes highly recommended.
PSP Fanboy score: 8.0