Receiving absolutely no attention despite being well-placed at the edge of Sony's large booth, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 made a quiet showing at GDC08. Had it not been for a careful perusal of the show floor, we'd have likely missed it ourselves. Show goers were likely turned off by the Japanese build of the game, but thanks to some rudimentary Japanese skills we happily teed up.
The game features a handful of single-player modes: Challenge, Stroke Play, Mini-golf, and Training. Obviously, the Training mode walks you through the ins and outs of virtual golfing — a playable tutorial. Mini-golf lets you choose from a few different miniature golf courses, which naturally have you putting on tricky holes. Stroke Play, meanwhile, enables you to select from any of the full courses you've unlocked for a 9- or 18-hole round of golf.
Challenge mode sits at the centre of the single-player game, acting pretty much like a golfing campaign that sees you compete against computer-controlled golfers across a number of courses. Win rounds and you unlock new characters and courses for play.
Earning from your victories can be used to purchase items at the clubhouse, which then are used to customise your characters. A total of ten golfers are in the game, only two of which are unlocked at the start of the game.
Each character possess five core attributes that determine their skill on the green: power, control, spin, impact, and side spin. Cutesy Mei, for instance, has good control and spin even if she isn't the most powerful golfer.
Open Tee 2 plays it safe when it comes to actually hitting the green, with mechanics that stay true to the previous Hot Shots game (pictured). A swing meter sits along the bottom of the screen, triggered with a press of the Circle button. Tap again to set the power and then a third and final time to complete the shot. Press too soon or late and you'll slice the shot, causing it to drift off the projected course.
Of course, you're free to adjust the direction of your swing to account for wind or a potential slice using the analogue nub. Switching clubs is also easily done via the L and R shoulder buttons or tapping on the D-pad. In the handful of holes we played, the game didn't always select the most ideal club for the shot so it's important to take the initiative and swap it out for a better one.
Perhaps predictably, there are a lot of similarities between Open Tee 2 and its predecessor, released at the launch of PSP. That's not necessarily a bad thing given we think that game continues to be excellent, but fortunately this isn't a carbon copy. Indeed, one of the big differences is the inclusion of full infrastructure multiplayer.
Joining the two-player rounds already available locally, then, you'll be able to tee up with players online. Leaderboards, chat rooms, and tournaments are also in the works. It's definitely an improvement that promises to make this sequel worthwhile for owners of the first game.
Sony Computer Entertainment has slated Open Tee 2 for release in North America over the summer while a European release has yet to be announced.