It's unusual how people often find watching golf utterly boring, but there's no stopping gamers from getting hooked to the sport's virtual counterparts. Think about how much time you've spent playing Flash-based golf games on your PC when you're bored in class, work, or home. If you enjoy games like Tiger Woods and Hot Shots Golf, then think about how much time you've spent playing those over the years. Now think about all the times when you were somewhere else, wishing you had a kick-ass golf game in the palm of your hands. Years ago, Sony gave us the PSP's first Hot Shots Golf game, and today they've given us yet another.
If you've played the PlayStation 3's Out of Bounds, then booting up Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 will feel awfully familiar, as both games share very similar presentations. Upon booting up to the main menu, you have your selection of modes. In Single Player, you can enter the Challenge Mode and embark on a bunch of tournaments, where winning means unlocking new gear, characters, caddies, courses, and other game features. Then there's the Stroke Play mode, and here is where you'll do your quick-plays. If you feel your game isn't up to par (har-har, pun!), and you'd like to work on it, head into the Training mode.
In addition to that, Open Tee 2 boasts a fantastic minigame where the object of the game is to sink as many hole-in-ones across a series of nine holes. Before you think it's ridiculous, it's actually quite feasible. Instead of you having to sink the ball into a standard hole, you have to pop the ball up and have it land in a fairly wide trench with the hole in the center. So if you're able to land the ball within the trench, it'll roll around and eventually sink. Each stage has more than one hole (up to three per stage), the larger trenches are worth 10 points, the medium sized ones are worth 20, and the smallest are worth 30.
In total, there are 24 characters to choose from, two of which you get from the start, and the rest you'll have to unlock – that's more than what the PlayStation 3 game has. Each character is fitted with his or her own attributes, and they're all broken down by difficulties of use, falling under Novice, Intermediate, and Expert. Altogether, there are 12 locations for you to play across, most are new, but some are classic favorites, and you can also play a reversed version of each location.
Unlike the PlayStation 3's Out of Bounds, the PSP game doesn't feature the new swing mechanic where you make your hit based on timing with the analog stick. The game simply offers the automated easy-play mechanic, and the standard way. The standard way of play is still based on the timing bar that measures your distance/power and accuracy. So it feels very welcoming to always be able to pickup an HSG game and know exactly what you're doing. Likewise, Open Tee 2 still features the same grid displays that demonstrate the level/incline of the field to aid you in your puts. The game also offers an aid for you to play with, the Easy play mode, which simplifies the hitting process by automating the accuracy of your shot. It's not a setting I'd recommend using, because it lessens control of the game. Stick to the standard setting.
As always you'll be able to control the power of your swing by using the club you want, and also control the pitch/angle of your club for when you're in deep ground (the rough, sand, etc.). Of course, no Hot Shots Golf game is complete without the ability to completely customize your characters, and this particular one offers 300 items for you to put your creative mind to use with. Customization isn't only aesthetic, of course, as your golfers will see increases in their performance stats when they've been given new balls and clubs to work with.
Unlike other PSP games, Open Tee 2 boasts online gameplay good for up to 16 people in an online tournament, and eight people offline. Of course, don't expect to see 16 golfers all teeing-off at once, you're essentially playing against live-ghosts and competing against a real-time scoreboard that is doing exactly what you are. In any case, it is how golf is played in real life, and playing HSG Open Tee 2 online is just as much fun as playing it offline, if not more so. The same complaint I addressed for the PlayStation 3's HSG game stands here: a stage/course creator would be nice, as the series just feels very suited for the feature.
Visually, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee features the lush details that we've come to expect from the series, with vivid colors and bright scenery all around you. The character detail is very much in-line with the rest of the series, as the golfers and caddies continue to boast the game's signature cartoony look. And the framerate, while not terribly important in a golf-game, is nothing to worry about, as it runs at a crisp 30 frames per second at all times. For a PSP game, Open Tee 2 shouldn't offend anyone's senses. It's not crunching hard, but it's definitely not a lazy runner, either.
Lastly, the audio is a collection of lighthearted tunes, some sound effects, and random banter from either the golfer or the caddy. In the background you'll hear the barking of dogs, the chirping of birds, the baaahs of Sheep, and so on. The golfer will speak here and there, as will the caddy in between shots. The voices fit the nature of the game, but not everyone will like them. Still, the tunes and background effects are nice and relaxing.
If you loved the first PSP outing of Hot Shots Golf, then you'll love Open Tee 2. Additionally, if you've often wished you can take the PS3's Hot Shots Golf on the go with you, Open Tee 2 will certainly suit your needs, as the two games are quite similar. With the ability to go online with 16 players, a sizable Challenge mode, with a ton of things to unlock, Open Tee 2 also boasts great value, and for a handheld game that's extremely important. Yet again, we can give a round of applause for Clap Hanz. And yes, that was a pun.