Hot Shots Golf: Out Of Bounds
- Clap Hanz
- Sony Computer Entertainment
Golf is just another turn-based strategy game, at least when you look at the sport through the lens of the videogame geek. In virtual sports, where the limitations of physicality are erased, attacking a par-five hole really isn't all that different from going toe-to-toe with a party of level-five orcs. A smart tactician assesses the lay of the land, equips the proper weaponry, and swings.
Hot Shots Golf: Out Of Bounds appeals to the stat nerd without sucking every last bit of joy out of the affair. The cast of chirpy, calculatedly international characters do a great job of distracting players from the boring details of links simulation. A new swing that relies on the player's body for visual cues (as opposed to a clinical power gauge) effectively tows the game another step or two out of the abstract. The game's high-definition courses start off as clubhouse pastorals—the kind of gauzy green idylls that lifelong golfers daydream about. Rendered in high-definition splendor, populated with wildlife, and swept with realistic weather, these locales are vacation-worthy. They slowly morph, though, becoming progressively more intricate and antagonistic. Water hazards and sheer drops threaten to swallow balls and swell scores. Like a good role-playing game, Out Of Bounds makes sure that the player has grown enough before springing these challenges. Only here, mastery boils down to a +10 golf club and a wicked backspin that burns skidmarks onto the green.
Beyond the game: Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee for the PSP took customization and number-crunching a hair further than its PlayStation 3 counterpart. The game should be on any new PSP owner's shortlist.
Worth playing for: Crafty duffers can shave their scores by taking short cuts across neighboring fairways. A lobby system lets players socialize and organize tournaments and pick-up matches in a virtual clubhouse.
Frustration sets in when: Earlier versions of the game let players mix it up with unlockable costumes and characters. This gear isn't just missed for aesthetic reasons: The obsessive among us took pleasure in earning each and every outfit.
Final judgment: The stylized sweet spot between Mario Golf and Tiger Woods.