Replay Value: 10
Golf games. Sure, when you think about it, you wonder 'how can even anybody play them'? Granted the sport isn't quite as entertaining as Happy Gilmore would make it, but surely enough because the broadcasts are boring to watch, that doesn't mean the videogames are. Few golf games have really done much in order to stand out. Mario's Golf and the Hot Shots Golf series have been the only two notable franchises to really dent the gate that holds in the flood. With the recent release of Hot Shots Golf 3 on the PS2, Sony has come one step closer to busting open the floodgates. Oh it's true, Hot Shots Golf 3 is an amazing PS2 game, despite the fact it's a golf game.
Graphically, HSG3 doesn't quite demonstrate any polygonal crunching prowess, nevertheless the package is filled with vibrant visuals. The golfers are nice looking, very smooth all around and feature nifty character details such as cell-phones, 5 o'clock shadows, comb overs, and etc. Each character has a distinct visual appearance to match their personality, the additional character details help make this an obvious fact. The scenery is fluid and lush; everything you'd expect from a Hot Shots title. The whole image of the game is crisp, refreshing and incredibly pleasing to the eyes, despite simplicity. The backgrounds are filled with trees, and some really wonderful looking water effects -- a must for videogames now-a-days ;-). While it doesn't strive for a photo-realistic Tiger Woods 2002 appearance, Hot Shots Golf 3 is, all in all, an eye-candy treat.
Even though it doesn't look like a sim, believe it or not, Hot Shots 3 has some seriously noticeable simulation aspects that make even EA's Tiger Woods game look arcadish. Albeit its simulation aspects, Hot Shots Golf 3 is an incredibly fun and addictive videogame. I'm putting a lot of emphasis towards "incredibly" and "addictive". This is the stuff dreams are made of, folks. Personally, Hot Shots Golf 3 has had me in front of it for hours at a time. I've never been this involved in a sports game, aside from NHL 2002. I'd hold my breath after a challenging put that I spent a good 2 minutes preparing for. Depending on the result, I'd either make a thrust with my arm and my handed fisted, or I'd blurt out a couple of obscenities, the tamest being "that's bullsh*t!". Yeah so, during tense moments I tend to swear like a drunken sailor. As you can see, Hot Shots 3 has an affect on me. The game can get incredibly tense during head-to-head rivalries, or multiplayer match ups. So make sure you move potential projectiles away from the playing environment, otherwise things can get messy.
HSG3 features many modes. The versus mode isn't your typical two player gaming fare. Instead in this mode, you will be taken through 18 holes and square off against an opponent who is not selectable by default. Of course, upon completion and overall victory of the 18 holes, that character will be unlocked as playable. In between matches, you can save your game and come back anytime to complete the remaining matches. There is a total of 15 golfers, and 7 caddies for the gamer to select, most of the golfers, by the way, need to be unlocked. Other modes include Match Play, Stroke Play, Nine Hole/Par Three Courses, and lastly a National Tournament Mode. With 4 friends, Hot Shots Golf 3 is the ultimate party game. With that in mind, the game's replay value is pretty much never ending. The amount of extras this game offers is unparallel in contrast to other golf games. You earn Hot Shot Points that you can spend in the shop and buy goodies that will enhance the game one way or another. The gameplay doesn't require anybody to be a golf fan, just play this game.
Hot Shots 3 sounds nice. The music fits well with the cartoony and cheerful atmosphere of the game. The tunes are really nice, something I'd hum without notice. It's not overwhelming, and the game has no real soundtrack, but overall the tunes are a nice and easy listen. The sound effects such as golf swings, the golf club making contact with the ball, the various landing noises that the ball makes (depending on where it lands) and even the sounds of leaves ruffling as the ball hits a tree, all sound as they would in real-life. The golfers also have voiceovers, nothing much, but they are present and sound very good. Overall, the game sounds well.
Controlling Hot Shots Golf 3 takes practice, and afterwards, skill. While it aims at a more arcadish style, HSG3 has simulation aspects that make the game even more enjoyable. When you are needed to put, you're going to have to pay attention to the slope of the ground. A transparent grid, covering the ground, will show the elevation of the surface, as there will be rolling dots on the lines of the grid. Depending on the direction (and speed) the dots are rolling, you will have to adjust the angle of your shot so that you have the proper curve to sink your put. Sounds confusing, but you'll be laying this down in no time. Not to mention that wind will also play a factor from time to time. These strategic elements in HSG3 make the game more tense, addictive and enjoyable. As for the controls in general, they are fairly simple. Give them about 10 minutes to fully adjust, and then concentrate on the strategic facets that the game offers.
All in all, Hot Shots Golf 3 is arguably the best golf game ever. It's certainly one of the best party titles on the PS2, and is also one of the best releases of the month (March). The game is a very recommended purchase. It manages to be an addictive game with tons of replay value and fantastic gameplay that mixes arcade and simulation elements. Graphically, it's a pleasing title to look at it, and a pleasing title to listen to. The controls are intuitive, and require a little practice to master. By all means, go and buy Hot Shots Golf 3. Final word: It rocks!