Review by CapnStank

Reviewed: 08/21/04

Allow me to save you 40 bucks:

Hot Shots Golf Fore in a word is : Awful. The game has lackluster graphics, moronic characters, and the worst audio I've heard in a sports title since...Hot Shots Golf 3. But none of that would matter if the gameplay was solid and engaging, two things it's not. I'll break it down further below:

Gameplay

If you played Hot Shots 3, you know what to expect with Fore. In other words, not much. Let's face it, this game falls squarely in the category of Goofy Golf. What's Goofy Golf, you ask? It's golf aimed squarely at people that don't know a thing about golf, or care to know. It' s golf played by wacky looking characters. It's the kind of game that Japanese gamers really seem to love. Their fascination with big-headed weirdos in sports games is legendary. Another game in this category is Mario Golf. And what truly sets Mario apart from this dreck is their characters are entrenched in nearly every gamer's mind. Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Princess Peach. You know them, you love them, you love to hate them. HSG Fore's character list is full of stereotypes. Really bad stereotypes, too. But the problem isn't that they're stereotypical. The problem is that they're downright stupid, and their highly repetitive dialogue is as inane as it is idiotic. And to top it off, the game lets you have a caddie just as annoying as your own character! And you can't turn their lame dialogue off either. But a golf game is ultimately about how it plays, and the courses you play on. 5 courses from HSG3 are returning, along with a few new regulation distance courses, and a par 3 course, along with the return of an old favorite: mini golf. Only this time it won't be a favorite since it's implemented terribly.

The swing mechanism is essentially the same. Yep, click click click...yawn...I'm sure you fell asleep just reading that. Clap Hanz still refuses to join the rest of us in the world of gaming that includes controllers with analog sticks. Analog golf swings allow you more touch and feel. They allow you to work your shots, and make you actually feel like you're working a hook, or a fade. I have no problem with Clap Hanz still using a tri-click swing method. I do have a problem with them not offering the superior analog swing mechanism as an option. This tired old attachment to an inferior swing mechanism truly hurts the viability of HSG as a serious golf game contender, thus relegating it to the ranks of Goofy Golf.

Audio

People bash audio in football games when you hear the same line of commentary repeated twice in the same game. Imagine hearing the same line of dialogue multiple times during a hole, every hole, every single time you play the game. Yep, it's that bad. And to make matters worse, the crowd/gallery say stupid things as well. And then there's the music. What to say about the music...hmm...I've used the words awful, terrible, idiotic already...hmmm...how about completely and utterly lame?! Yes, the music is completely and utterly lame. Again, if you've played the old HSG games, you know the music. Sure you can turn the audio off on your stereo, but there goes your ability to hear golf shots, birds etc.

Graphics

Again, if you've played HSG3, you know what to expect. It's actually a little better this time around, but not by much. The character animations still remain stiff but serviceable. You'll see a bear pop up wandering around on a hole every now and again. Graphically the game doesn't rival it's main competitor Mario, nor does it come close to Tiger Woods or the superior to-them-all Links on Xbox. The two exceptions are Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter, two golfer-caddie combinations that come from highly recognizable PS2 games. If the game had more of this, it would be a serious rival to Mario in the goofy golf category. But alas, it doesn't.

Courses

OK, so the gameplay is stale, the audio is terrible, and the graphics are "sub-par", but that was true of many old golf games that were ultimately saved by their selection of well-known courses to play on. Don't get your hopes up. HSG Fore doesn't offer anything in the way of big name courses. What it does offer, outside of mini-golf, is a bunch of mediocre-at-best course designs. One or two of the new ones outshine the rest, but even those can't rival the beauty of playing at St. Andrews or Pebble Beach. But again, this isn't a serious golf game for serious golf fans, so I shouldn't be let down by it's anorexic offering of course designs.

To sum it up, if you love Hot Shots 3, and never tired of it, you'll love HSG: Fore because Fore is nothing more than HSG3 with some new characters and courses. There's nothing innovative at all about Fore. It took them 2 years to do this? Sheesh.

Finally, for those with an interest in online play Sony has thankfully added support to the game...really bad support. First they made it broadband only (hey Sony, it's golf!), and to make matters worse, they chose not to support the headset for communication. So you get to play golf against your friends, and not say a word. Want to make a smart-alecky remark about your buddies drive into the lake? You're going to have to call him up on the phone to do so. Yep, it's awful. All of the online play setup is mediocre at best. Isn't Sony the one that came up with Online for the PS2? Why then in a Sony game is the online implementation so darned inferior to that of EA? This is the one aspect of the game that could have saved it, and even it falls completely on its face. Oh well.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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