Preview: Hot Shots Golf 5 looks nicer, plays about the same

  • Columbus (OH) - With the PS3, many Sony devotees are anxiously awaiting what their favorite Playstation game series will look like in high definition.  Hot Shots Golf, one of Sony's biggest cult hits, may not be the most visually intensive PS3 game in the pipeline, but fans of the series will likely enjoy the HD overhaul nonetheless.

    I recently tried out a Japanese demo of Hot Shots Golf 5, and although my Japanese vocabulary doesn't expand beyond "Nintendo" and "sushi", I was able to get a grasp of what the latest installment feels like on the new console.

    In terms of mechanics, the game offers the same format that's been used since the original Playstation title.  Simply push X and the right times corresponding to the lower-third power bar and pray for a miracle eagle.

    However, for those who want to try a different format, Hot Shots Golf 5 also opens up a new control scheme.  It's more based on the golfer's swing.  The power bar is gone and players need to push X at the right time in their on-screen character's swing to get the most powerful swing possible.  I couldn't tell if this is supposed to more closely simulate an actual golf swing or just make to make it easier than the classic controls, but I didn't really care for it.

    Visually, the game has gotten a complete overhaul.  The entire graphics package has been given a sleeker, "ready for HD" makeover and the characters look crisper than ever.  Blades of grass, grainds of sand, and the golf ball texture are all very detailed.

    It's not exactly as realistic as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, but that's not the look Hot Shots Golf tried to achieve.  It's more like a cartoon with a lot of detail.

    With regard to physics, in the demo I didn't see anything leaps and bounds beyond the PS2.  Again, Hot Shots Golf historically has been a casual golf game with not much attention to physics, but from the three holes I played several times, it seemed like the effect of wind, slopes on the green, and mis-swings on the shot alignment all functioned exactly like at the more limited PS2 level.

    The game is coming out in Japan in just a few months, so the version I played is probably pretty close to what the final product will feel like.

    It is one of the small group of casual PS3 titles, and I'm just pleased to see a non-intense title take full advantage of the PS3's visual capabilities.

    The US release has been confirmed but there is no date set yet.  We likely won't see it until the holiday season or maybe even some time next year.