Hot Shots Golf Fore! Review


Hot Shots Golf Fore! (HSGF) is Sony’s latest entry in the “cute” golf game genre. If you’re looking for a serious golf sim, then you’d better look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more accessible golf game with a fanciful twist that still manages to realistically capture the physics of golf, then HSGF is definitely worth a look.

HSGF provides 12 different courses that range from the traditional to the more fanciful - the latter adding a bit more challenge to the game through the use of precipitous drops, abundant water hazards, large obstructions, and the like. In addition there are two miniature golf courses that provide a setting for the game’s interesting take on the “sport” of putt-putt. Rounding out the course selection is a nine-hole executive par 3 course.

Screenshots
Ratchet tees off.

Unlike many golf games the real stars of the show in HSGF are not the courses but instead the colorful cast of golfers available. Initially only a few of these characters are playable and the rest will need to be unlocked by winning matches against the computer. Each cartoon-like golfer is rated in a few key areas such as power and accuracy and comes with their own caricature-like personality. In addition to the usual cast of suspects such as a ditzy cheerleader, a surly teenager, and a smarmy self-styled ladies’ man, HSGF features guest appearances by Jak of Jak and Daxter and Ratchet of Ratchet and Clank fame as playable characters. Daxter and Clank appear as well but only serve duty as caddies. You may find yourself selecting your golfer based more on their personality than their ratings as each one has a few random sayings that get repeated endlessly and become thoroughly annoying after only a single round of golf.

HSGF uses a simple three button push method for swings – the first push starts the swing by filling a swing meter, the second sets the power by stopping the swing meter at the desired level, and the last push is done as the meter passes back through a small contact zone. Stop the meter in the dead center of this zone and your shot will be straight and true. Miss the sweet spot and you’ll add a hook or slice to your shot. You can also turn yourself to set the direction of the shot and you can also add some spin to the ball to make your shot draw or fade. You can certainly do alright for yourself in the game without ever messing with ball spin and leaving all of the adjustments on their default values for the shot, and if you’re a real beginner you can use a two button shot that does not require you to stop the meter in the sweet spot. When putting you also just need to press the button for power and the contact is automatically handled for you. As an additional aid to putting, a grid is overlaid on the green with moving dots used to indicate slope and break. The controls are pretty straightforward and easy to use for both new players and those who’ve played other golf games. Veterans of golfing sims may find them to be simplistic, but HSGF is more about having fun with video golf than it is an attempt to accurately recreate the sport. That being said, it should be noted that HSGF does do a good job with the ball physics, so even though the experience is more akin to an arcade game the shots play out realistically.