The Hot Shots clubhouse has opened up inviting gamers to tee off with Open Tee 2. After a successful run on the Playstation 3, the pint-sized version gets revisited for the first time in three years. Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is what you would expect, and then a little more. Grab the clubs, it's time to head to the green.
North America’s Hot Shots Golf or Everybody Golf for the rest of the world sees its first return to the PSP after a lengthy hiatus. After loading up the original game for a comparison, I can safely say that Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is everything the original is and more. The first change that you will notice in Open Tee 2 is a graphical upgrade from the original. The upgrade on the graphics are suttley adjusted providing more background imagery, slightly better character models and more detail in the menu system. Fans of Hot Shots cutesy animie don’t worry, Sony hasn’t touched a thing and you’ll even start off with the two familiar female and male characters, Carly and Luke.
Follow the upgraded graphics the gameplay in Open Tee 2 is right on the money. Remaining allegiant to the formula that has made the game popular, Open 2 doesn’t mess around with a sure thing. If you haven’t played a console or portable version of Hot Shots Golf in the past they are very easy to learn and surprisingly deep. Behind the lovable imagery it might surprise some Tiger Wood fans that the golf is half decent in Hot Shots Golf. The console or portable version play very similar, so if you’re a generation behind, or a new golfer on the Playstation 3, Open Tee 2 on the PSP is like a welcoming friend. Hot Shots Golf does a great job holding your hand until your ready for the big leagues.
When it comes to games on the PSP having good controls is vital to a games success, so as you can guess Open Tee 2 shines brightly. You can pretty much play the entire game by hitting one button and pushing around the D-pad. This simplicity helps out younger gamers, but also adds some flair while you watch the swing meter slide along the bar waiting to press down the “X” at the perfect time. Even with simple controls, Hot Shots Golf remains fun and can build some moments of suspense. Like all golf games there is a lot more than hitting the button at the right time you will have factor in other attributes like wind direction and speed.
The game modes haven't changed much over the years and Hot Shots will feel as familiar as ever as you cruise through the game. This could be one critism to the Hot Shots experience is that it’s too familiar and can become a little dull after an hour or more of play. This isn’t to say Hot Shots isn’t a great game because it is, it’s just that it’s best taken in spurts. Now that is taken from the perspective that you have played a Hot Shots game in the past, if you’re totally new to the series then you’ll likely have a lot more fun and be drawn in a little more. If one sports game has a lot of charm that isn’t a Mario related game, it is Hot Shots Golf. It’s hard to resist this little gaffer, even if you’re not a fan of teeing off.
The most interesting mode in Open Tee 2 is the new challenge mode that gives you the chance to unlock new characters and items. By selecting what you what to unlock you can enter up to nine mini-tournaments to win your item. These tournaments are scored on a point system, so you don’t always have to be swinging right at par, or under to still capture first place. Simply by hitting a few well crafted swings and hitting the fairway will help boost up your standing on the leaderboards. Unlocking items, new abilities, hidden characters and courses is half the fun in Hot Shots Golf, like it has always been. Unlocking is also a must because once again developer Clap Hanz only gives you two characters and two courses to start the game with.
Unlocking is handled by a new random card based system that awards your prize randomly from your selected category. For example if you enter a challenge mode tournament for a 'body' item then you will be awarded a random outfit that you select. This keeps things fresh and keeps you addicted to playing so you can unlock new mystery items. Getting more specific you can unlock new outfits for your head, or accessory along with your body this in turn will boost your power, spin or control when you collect enough items in a category. Besides being terrifically addictive, Open Tee 2 ups the way you play the game and keeps the challenges entertaining.
Aside from the challenge mode there are a few single player modes to mention. These modes don’t come as a surprise and consist of the always a good place to start for the beginner, 'training mode'. You can also hit up ‘stroke play’ for normal golfing action, or attack some hole-in-one 'mini games' to switch things up. There is definitely a lot to do in Open Tee 2 when you combine the number of unlockables, single player modes, and online gaming capabilities.
Speaking of online, a new addition to Hot Shots is its 16-player online tournament mode via Wi-Fi. Now you can pit your swinging skills against other like minded golfers. The A.I. in the game can give you a good chance, but sometimes it feels a little too artificial and you’re always questioning if the game is playing fair or not. Online with real people, you know what you are getting into and if you have the talent or not. It easy to get going online with a system similar to the PS3 where you all play the game at once without waiting your turn to tee off. This means the game goes almost as quickly as the single player game which gives even the most multiplayer shy gamers an adequate reason why they should hope online. The amount of fun to have online will only be limited by the amount of players who help support the game.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the graphics in Open Tee 2 have been improved vastly. Open Tee 2 looks great with backgrounds that add depth to the courses, characters that stand out and look vibrant along with a great flow to the game while in action. The only exception to Open Tee's flawless graphics are the load times when you’re editing the characters. In actuality it isn’t too long, but compared to other load times in the game, it seems bogged down.
Continuing into the audio, I found a few more problems then the graphics. The audio can be annoying with the same smart kid like remarks and tone from the console version. Add that up with the under impressive generic soundtrack, and you have a game that you will want to turn down when your playing. Granted the audio doesn’t ruin the game, or make it unbearable, it just doesn’t add up to anything interesting, or give the player options onto what they want to hear. If one area could be improved in Hot Shots, it’s the audio direction. It is almost like Clap Hanz hasn't progressed in this area in the ten years the franchise has been in development.
It is a no-brainer to recommend Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 to anyone looking for a quality version of the console game ported down to the handheld. Hot Shots Golf is very loveable and easy to get into; really the series hasn’t changed much over the ten years since it has been hitting birdies. While this means long times fans might still have some love for the old faithful, gamers who have shunned the game won’t find any reason to give the long running series a mulligan. Overall, the price is right, the game has improved, and now you can try your luck online! What else would you want in a sequel? Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is definitely a pleasant surprise that should be a must for any golfing fan with a PSP.
Gameplay: 9, Graphics: 9, Sound:6.5, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 9. Final: 8.2 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.16.08