PS Vita Preview: Hot Shots Golf (Working Title)

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PS Vita Preview: Hot Shots Golf (Working Title)

When I first laid eyes on the PS Vita in January, I was floored by UNCHARTED (now officially dubbed UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss), eager to try Super Stardust Delta with dual analog sticks, and mesmerized by the use of AR in Reality Fighters. But I knew that the game I’d be coming back to on flight after flight, year after year, would be Hot Shots Golf.

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I’ve easily sunk hundreds of hours into the Hot Shots Golf series dating back to the PS2 days, with the majority of that time on the PSP’s Open Tee line. Based on what I’ve played of Hot Shots Golf, the hours will keep piling up on PS Vita.

The first thing I noticed was how the game’s cheerfully colorful visuals benefit from the PS Vita’s stunning OLED display. Don’t compare it to the PSP’s Open Tee series; Hot Shots Golf’s visuals on the PS Vita are even more polished than those of PS3’s Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds. Gorgeous character lighting, dazzling water effects, fluttering birds, swirling leaves — this is as pretty a day on the links are you’re likely to see.

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The basic gameplay of Hot Shots Golf has held up over five console platforms, and the PS Vita gameplay remains as comfortable, familiar, and addicting as a well-worn pair of jeans. Developer Clap Hanz is working with Vita’s powerful hardware in order to create a drop-dead-simple user interface, and the early results show promise. Use your finger to move your golfer around the tee box to give you a better angle around doglegs, then touch the screen where you want the ball to land – the game will automatically select the right club for the distance.

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For the moment, the dev team isn’t looking at going full touch on the shot mechanics. Buttons still have their place in gaming, and if it works, it works. Here, it works.

But you’ll know how far gaming has come when can you peer through the PS Vita’s 5’’ OLED display to search for hidden objects scattered across the courses, shifting your window into the game world by simply moving the PS Vita. Very cool stuff.

It’s also no surprise to learn that Wifi and 3G multiplayer are planned, and will incorporate a leaderboard for you to keep track of your progress versus that of your friends.

Hot Shots Golf is planned as a day-one release for PS Vita, beginning what will likely be another years-long dominance of my portable gaming time.

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