Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Preview (PS Vita)
Golf games -- they can go one of two ways. Either they can be a super-serious simulation loaded with features, but not forgetting about the aspect of having fun; or they can be a laid-back arcade style affair, like Mario Golf or something that uses a motion controller, to get the whole family into it. Hot Shots Golf definitely fits in the latter category, though there’s enough photo-realistic courses and addictive gameplay to get some sim fans into the action as well. Next month, both will be able to rejoice with the arrival of Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational for the PS Vita.
Clap Hanz, who have been handling development on the series since Camelot stepped out during the PS1 days, has been handling it rather well over the years, namely with the PS3 debut Out of Bounds. But World Invitational should go one step further, thanks to a pair of ideal conclusions, coupled with the gameplay that works so fundamentally well for the series.
In the game, you use a three-click swing for hitting the ball off the green. The first initiates the swing, the second judges your power, and the third is accuracy, in which you have to land it in the “hot zone” to avoid a nasty slice. It’s pretty easy stuff, and the PS Vita still uses said system, but there are some changes where the touch screen is involved.
You’ll use your fingers to move things around on the screen, whether it’s where your player is standing on the green or where you want to aim your shot. You can actually pinch to see what distance the ball will have, and then adjust accordingly, with your club automatically being chosen for you depending on the distance you go with. It’s a little finicky at first, and not everyone will be into it (general control options are available), but I found it to be pretty cool when it came to setting up the timing and placement on specific shots. Sure helped me get on the green better than I thought.
The graphics are delightful, really showing off an elegant amount of detail on the PS Vita’s screen. The courses themselves continue to have that photo-realistic quality, so you’ll see the bright greens, shimmering waters, and dastardly sand traps on each course before you set out to take your shots. The players themselves are interesting animated choices, including some musclemen (what’s with the mullet, bro?) and cute girls in summer dresses. The more you play, the more you’ll be able to unlock, including additional courses and players to choose from. No word yet if there will be extra Sony characters joining the party, like Kratos and Ratchet in Out of Bounds, but c’mon. We can just envision Nathan Drake from Uncharted taking on Cole McGrath from Infamous. It’d be a lot of fun.
One interesting new aspect to the game is the option to look for hidden goodies throughout each course. If you’re scoring real well and have time to give up a couple of leisurely strokes, you might be surprised to find a few bonus trophies or other accessories to outfit your golfer with. However, if you’re pressed to keep the lead – which you will be in later rounds – you might want to goof off on your own instead.
If you’re looking for more competition outside of the AI, you can either use the 3G or Wi-Fi features to challenge friends through an online leaderboard that tracks your progression and compares your score with others. Additional versus options should also be available when the game launches, though the rep we spoke with didn’t go into any specific details just yet. Soon, we’re sure.
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational looks like a well-done golf sim for the PS Vita, and another quality entry in the ongoing series. We’ll let you know if it’s worth taking an opening drive with once it arrives in time for the system’s launch next month.