"There's little to dislike about Hot Shots Golf 3, a simulation if not a bit too cartoony, a childlike representation of the sport if not a bit too realistic and unforgiving in the early going. It will likely find appeal with all audiences, even those not really jumping at the opportunity to play a golf game. Unlocking new items, equipment, features, golfers of varying abilities and diverse courses, plus entering tournaments to fill your trophy room, will guarantee some longevity for the t..."
There's little to dislike about Hot Shots Golf 3, a simulation if not a bit too cartoony, a childlike representation of the sport if not a bit too realistic and unforgiving in the early going. It will likely find appeal with all audiences, even those not really jumping at the opportunity to play a golf game. Unlocking new items, equipment, features, golfers of varying abilities and diverse courses, plus entering tournaments to fill your trophy room, will guarantee some longevity for the title, but the actual golfing is of a high enough quality to merit returning to play more on its own.
As always, you start with the most basic of everything -- the 'standard' golf balls and clubs, the weakest, least interesting characters to choose from, and only a couple of courses to play. Things don't become truly interesting until you've started accomplishing things, such as winning tournaments, unlocking new golfers by beating them in head-to-head match play, and earning points through strong, consistent golfing to use at the pro shop to buy a wide variety of items and features.
Once you gain a little momentum is when you'll really feel involved. Playing in a couple tournaments, placing high and adding a couple trophies to show off in your case is rewarding; taking on a mysterious new golfer in a showdown and unlocking him or her for your own use will make the effort more than worthwhile; and picking up a versatile new set of golf clubs and balls from the shop will make you want to get back out onto the beautiful Aloha Beach course, palm trees swaying in the gentle breezes. But most rewarding of all will be your increasing mastery of the golf itself -- definitely subtle at first, as you take baby steps in adjusting to all of the elements of the game, but quite noticeable as you spend more time on the links and you steadily shed strokes from your scores.
There's a lot to take in at once, if you aren't familiar with other simulation golf games (those who've played Mario Golf (N64) will feel comfortable in short order, taking notice of harder fairways in this title, allowing balls to roll more in general). Crammed into the display besides the scenery and your golfer is a bevy of valuable information that can easily spell the difference between a shot five feet short of the hole and a water hazard. Wind speed and direction, other weather factors such as rain, club type, the character's swing tendencies (draws, fades, high-arching versus low-arching shots), the type of terrain the ball is lying in, and whether or not topspin or backspin was applied can all greatly affect the ball's flight path.
It's all quite a bit to take into consideration, and at first you're likely to just take a swing and hope for the best. As you play more, becoming more acquainted with how large a role each of these factors plays, you will probably take notice of more and more of these factors and, before long, you'll be fully analyzing every shot, giving you the best chance for success. This is when your devotion and patience has paid off.
HSG3 uses the same old three-click swing meter*, which although simplistic, does emphasize timing when you're taking a swing. I would hope that an analog-swing method is in this series' future, as the Tiger Woods golf series has proven that it can be quite successful.
Perhaps the only element of Hot Shots Golf 3 that's somewhat shaky is the cast of characters, of which there is only a very small sampling of likable personalities. The golfers certainly are unique and diverse -- ranging from a bookworm girl to an Indiana Jones wannabe -- but as a whole, it's simply not a terribly appealing group, and its especially disappointing when compared to (and destroyed handily by) Mario Golf's mascot-fest of a cast. Most of the upper echelon of golfers (which I won't reveal here) are particularly irritating. It is only fair to mention that real-life drunkard John Daly has made the roster, effectively giving the party the alcoholic belchy stench that it otherwise lacked. ''Pars are boring,'' John will comment after he earns a par on a hole. They're a lot more exciting after some booze, I'd wager. Just don't keep him out on the arid desert course for too long. The odor will be overwhelming.
But John Daly alone cannot hold this one down.
* [Three-click swing meter - a horizontal bar displayed at the bottom of the screen represents your shot. Your first click of the swing button sends a small notch in motion along the bar from right to left. Your second click determines the power of the shot -- the further along the bar the notch is, the harder you'll hit the ball. The third and final click determines the straightness of your shot. The closer you 'land' the notch to its original starting point, the better your aim will be.]
Community review by dogma (January 17, 2004)
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