The Hot Shots Golf series continues to move from one Sony platform to another, and it is set to launch with the NGP, whenever that date is announced. At a pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Culver City, we were able to play a couple of holes of golf to see what new features have been added to this easy-to-play golf game. Hot Shots Golf isn't looking to revamp the series in any way, and you'll find that it will be very similar to any of the previous games. However, it is making use of the NGP's extra features like the camera, touch screen, and Wi-Fi.
The game will not be a port of any previous game because it will come with new courses and characters, and it is built from the ground up specifically for the NGP. We're told there's more than 50 hours of single-player gameplay and that it will support 3G and Wi-Fi for the social aspects of the game. Details on what they might be will be revealed at a later date. On the course, you'll notice that you can now move around the teeing ground to set up your shot. The free-roam camera (a bit sensitive at this stage) lets you move the NGP around to examine the course from all angles. If the wind indicator says there's wind, you can pan over the trees to see if that's the case. The environment is much more detailed (down to the blades of grass) and looks great on the NGP's OLED screen. Even though the characters retain their cartoony look, the setting is incredibly lush and vibrant.
You can interact with your golfers by tapping them via the touch screen, but we're not sure actually sure what this does and to what extent. But we were told that by building loyalty with your characters, they may perform better. Like before, you can swap clubs with the shoulder buttons, but you can also use the touch screen to see the distance for each club on the map and make your selection there. The screen ends up being more convenient when you want to look at things, but for the most part, you're still using your button controls. The game still has the three-click shot system where you have to watch your golfer's swing, as well as time the right moment the club hits the ball. We were told that it's not finalized, but the developer wants to include a mechanic to give your swing a bit more "juice" by giving the system a little nudge. Either way, there will be something in place to help you get that hole in one, and if you get par or better, your picture will be automatically taken--so be warned! But judging from what our Sony representative was telling us, it looks like features can be removed or changed by the time the game ships. In the meantime, the developer is having fun playing with all the unique features of the NGP.
We didn't get to spend a lot of time with the game because the demo mainly highlighted NGP features. It feels very much like Hot Shots Golf on the PlayStation Portable, except it looks much better and puts the NGP's features to use. We won't know what else is included until E3, but we're curious to learn more, especially when it comes to the online functionality. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.