I've never played a round of real golf in my life. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even stepped foot on a golf course. Now that's not to say I don't know anything about the game of golf, because I do. I've seen all the Caddyshack movies, I watch the occasional golf tournament on weekends, and most importantly I am a veteran player of the Hot Shots Golf video game series from Sony Computer Entertainment America. My only regret is that I didn't start playing Hot Shots Golf until number 3 came out on the PS2. So I missed 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 were great games and now SCEA aims to bring the Hot Shots series to the PS3 with the release of Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds.
Both Fun and Challenging
As with previous versions, Out of Bounds provides an arcade style of gameplay, but with a level of sophistication that will challenge anyone. Out of Bounds provides 15 playable characters (both guys and gals), each with their own personality and playing skills. You can play on six different courses in various locations, although you'll start off with only 2 characters and one course – the others can be unlocked as you play through the game. Six courses may seem a bit limiting (and I agree it would be nice to have more), but the quality of these courses is outstanding. When you play a course more than once, you'll be playing different holes, with different rules and under different conditions so there's still plenty of variety. Personally, I'd rather have six high-quality courses than twelve that are only average.
Out of Bounds provides both Single and Online play. In Single-Player Golf, you have three modes of play: Training, Stroke, and Challenge. Training allows you to play and practice freely without affecting your stats. Stroke allows you to play a round based on strokes on any available course. But to advance in the game, you need to play through the Challenge mode, which lets you unlock more characters, courses, and gear. In Challenge mode, you compete in a series of 9- and 18-hole tournaments. Matches are divided by rank according to their difficulty and you start off in the Junior Rank. After choosing a rank, you can choose your character as well as your club and your ball. As you play, your score is raised or lowered according to your performance. Get a Birdie or a Chip-In and your score goes up. Land in a bunker or a lake and your score goes down. If you beat a computer character you can then play as that character and your rank goes up. If you find the game too challenging (even in the beginning) you can use Easy Mode to weaken your opponents while keeping all other elements of the game intact.
Golf Swing Upgrade
The most significant addition to Out of Bounds gameplay is the new swing mechanic. The Traditional Shot is still here: Press X to start your swing. Watch the Power Gauge and press X again to determine the power of your swing. As the Power Gauge goes down, press X one last time to determine the Impact. But this type of swing is unnatural because you're using the Power Gauge to determine your shot. The new Advanced Shot lets you play by feel, like you do in a real game of golf. You press X to start your swing. Depending on if you're taking a shot or a putt, your club will shine (and make a sound) at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% just to give you a point of reference for your power. Press X again to determine the power of your swing. As your club comes down to hit the ball, a circle will appear around the ball to help you determine Impact. Press X a final time to get the right Impact. You can hit it just right for Just Impact, a little early for a Slice, a little late for a Hook, and way too late for a Miss shot. The Advanced Shot brings a fresh perspective to the game and makes it much more fun to play.
Out of Bounds Online
Sony also did a great job with the Online Mode. When you go online, you can actually create your own avatar/player, which is something that would be nice to have in Single-Player Golf. After you create your player, you visit a Clubhouse. There are multiple Clubhouses each with multiple floors and multiple lobbies, and each provides different Game Rooms and different Real Tournaments. You can even create your own Game Room to get together with a group of your friends.
In the lobbies, you can walk around and text chat with other players as well as set up and play matches and enter tournaments. For a quick game, you can play nine holes. But if you're up for a challenge, you can enter a tournament with up to 50 players each taking turns playing individual holes. Of course, there's a time limit for each hole so that players are not held up by slackers, but the time provided is enough to keep the gamplay fun rather than frustrating.
Hole in One!
Out of Bounds keeps up with the Hots Shots tradition of cutesy character and gameplay graphics, while making the courses look and behave in a very realistic manner. Although, there aren't a lot of major changes to the game, the PS3 definitely brings Hots Shots Golf to a whole new level. The music isn't that good, but it can easily be turned off. The graphics and gameplay (especially with the new Advanced Shot and the great Online Mode) are excellent. Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is a definite purchase for fans and PS3 owners alike.