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As much frustration as fun; light on content
on January 1, 2014
NUTSHELL: As beautiful as the game is (probably the best yet), the frustration might outweigh the fun for non-fans, and the Hot Shots faithful will have to put up with a lot to get what good there is in this installment.
I've played Hot Shots since the PS2 games, so I'm not a novice to the game. There's never a shortage of frustration in these games when you get to the more difficult stages, but this one seems to have more than its share. That is in part due to the shortage of content, and seems clearly designed for mobile market, not consoles. Significantly fewer characters and courses than past installments made for consoles.
UNLOCKABLE CONTENT is relatively limited compared to past games, with essentially two outfits in a selection of very similar colors for everyone. Still, there are some unique and great combinations to be found, just would have wished for more (again, a little more like Pangya did it.)
"Easy" mode is poorly conceived and executed. All it does is reduce the difficulty of the opponents, and even that is often not to such a great degree. In tournaments, that's not much of an issue, as those tend to be easier anyway. But enough of the character versus matches or certain rule restrictions can get frustrating. Better would have been to make some of the mechanics easier, i.e. a boost in selected or all stats (something the deep content PSP golf game from South Korea, Pangya, did well). The mode will make some of the "crowns" more accessible, but still will not be "easy" for many players.
The COURSE DESIGN has always gotten steadily more difficult in a very forced kind of way through the series, and they follow suit here, making it some of the most frustrating golf yet. Presumably to try to get courses to challenge the best players out there, they've made some annoying choices in course design that makes some holes just plain no fun. With online play so common now, there shouldn't be a need to try and make the offline/single-player experience SO challenging.
On the plus side, after having put in many enjoyable hours on Open Tee 2 on PSP (as well as previous Hot Shots games), the GRAPHICS are impressive, not only in quality, but in certain presentation styles and much more natural lighting. Definitely a beauty of a game. This was where I was underwhelmed with Open Tee as compared to Pangya. Open Tee had prettier courses, but Pangya had much better looking and more interesting characters.
Also welcome is much more choice in shot style, with four different meter styles to choose from, including the classic bar gauge.
The CHARACTERS for Wold Inv'l are just as stereotypical (bordering on offensive) as the series seems stuck in portraying as ever, the caddies worse than the golfers. A few of the voices are pleasant enough, if not really entertaining, but too many are either irritating (most of the caddies) or just inexplicable (Xiao Ling's quite un-Chinese non-accent). Notable exceptions are the Aussie(ish) Grace, Native American caddie Langundo; all other caddies are too annoying, and only a few other golfers are at least endurable.
+ Probably the most beautiful Hot Shots yet
+ Should be some golfers and courses for just about anyone to enjoy
+ Classic Hot Shots style play and presentation
+ Best variety of shot mechanic style of any arcade golfer game
+ Some (even if not enough) nice outfits and costumes
- Light on content
- Course design continues to get more unnecessarily challenging, as does some AI and rule restrictions
- Might only be one or two golfers/caddies and two or three courses that many players will *really* enjoy
- "Easy" mode not as helpful as it should be
- Character design still so stereotypical that some might almost call it racist
- Stereotypes aside, the voice choice and acting is still mostly not as enjoyable as it has been in the past