Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee
Game Info
Clap Hanz
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Comic Mischief, Suggestive Themes
The Good

• Fun yet challenging mechanics
• Lots to unlock
• Detailed courses with little loading

The Bad

• Audio portion is understated
• No online
• Takes forever to get real rewards


With four successful console offerings, it was not much of a stretch that SCEA would push to have their arcade-styled golf series onto the PSP. The Hot Shots Golf series has always been about strong mechanics without all the intense real-world golf licenses. This allowed for the infusion of fictional yet goofy golfers and some oddball golf mechanics that worked well at both being playable and enjoyable.

Even if you've never played one of these games, you'll find the mechanics quite easy to pick up, yet rewardingly deep once you get into the finer details. Before going out onto the course, you'll be given a choice of golfers, each with their own special statistics that vary in power, driver distance, spin, etc. With clubs and golf balls in hand, you're sent out onto the course to swing away, using a button pressing system that has you start the swing, press for power and then again for accuracy. This is all displayed in a bar at the bottom of the screen. On the tee and on the fairway, you'll want to get the most out of your power and accuracy as the courses all have their little quirks. Once you reach the putting green, the putting mechanic forces you to take the slope of the green into consideration as you line up shots. Though the gameplay may feel a bit simple at the beginning, you'll begin to grasp taking the wind into account or when to place spin on the ball. After landing in the water or sand one two many times, you'll begin to pay more attention to the lay of the courses.

When you start up Open Tee, you'll have the option to play Single player, Multiplayer or Training. Under Single Player you have the option to play unlocked courses on your own. The Putting Challenge tosses you on the green with a certain number of points to gain by successfully making normal and challenging puts. Where you'll be playing the most is in the Challenge Mode - an expansive mode that gives players multiple challenges to beat to unlock new items, balls, clubs, and characters. Some challenges come with a gold star that can be earned. Get enough of those and you unlock the next tier. Along the way, you'll pick up new golfers, caddies and courses. Since there is only six courses, you'll also pick up long tee mirror versions of the main courses, which is helpful in fleshing out the massive amount of challenges before you.

I won't kid with you - Open Tee hands out the good unlockables like they're made of gold. Sure, you can get all sorts of crap to make your chosen golfer look different, but expect to play the same two or three courses over and over again until you manage to acquire the next stage and hopefully you'll unlock that next golfer or course. To the game's credit though, by the time you've unlocked the next course, you're usually good enough with the previous course that the learning course for the next set of greens won't kill you outright. The difficulty curve is pretty steep in Open Tee. By the time you reach the final course, your PSP is in danger of being thrown through the nearest window.

When it comes to multiplayer, you can only partake in ad hoc games, meaning that your fellow golfer(s) need to be in the same area to get a game going. Fortunately, you can get a game of up to eight people going, which is nice if you have that many PSPs and copies of the game available. What is noticeably missing is the lack of an online mode, which would have been a nice addition to the game.

From a graphics standpoint, Open Tee looks really nice. While it retains the goofy, arcade-like style of the console versions, the details of the large courses looks fantastic on the handheld. Of course, the super-deformed golfers you have aren't overly detailed, but this is balanced by the fact that you can customize their look with all the unlockables you gain throughout the challenge portion of the single player. There are no "impressive" effects on display, outside of the occasional "on fire" golf ball, but considering the more laid back pace of the game, this is not a real detriment. What proves to be the most impressive about the graphics is that after the initial course load, any loading of new greens as you progress seems quite unobtrusive.

Outside of the ambient effects on the golf course, the audio portion seems pretty meager. Though, to its credit, Open Tee really doesn't need a lot of audio to keep you invested in the game. The ambient audio effects present establish a feel of being on the course well. Vocal quips from the golfers and caddies are okay but you could really do without them. And the fact that the caddies aren't even on screen but are merely voice-overed commentators is really a let down. The music, when present, is okay, but it doesn't do anything to WOW you.

If you are a fan of the series in general, then picking up this version is pretty much a no-brainer. It provides a good challenge while remaining pretty fun. With tons of challenges to compete in and scores of unlockables to obtain, you're likely to keep this title in your PSP for some time. If you're looking for a more simulation-like experience, though, Open Tee might not satisfy your desires.

- - Vane

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