Review by Laox

"Playability - a hole in one"

Awww.. who could give this game less than 10 (91 - 100%).. Its one of the few next generation titles that is loaded with playability and thoughtful touches, rather than spooled video rewards that are boring 2nd time through.

I don't even LIKE golf (real golf). Or rather, I'm not comfortable with the people who like golf.. one day they are normal office colleagues.. the next day, like invasion of the body snatchers, they are swinging imaginary sticks in the aisles and discussing every second of last weekends game with whomever is prepared to listen..

But with HSG3, the cartoon like big-headed OTT characters and brightly colored courses are non threatening. You can play without fearing the sounds of the mercs arriving in the club parking lot and shopping for check pants and white shoes.

Despite 'big heads' and crazy comments, an english accented caddy wearing a french maids outfit, and players 'from the dark side', the goofy atmosphere stops suddenly where it comes to the physics engine .. which feels excellent (it rarely ever causes a raised eyebrow) and hides many layers of increasing fine control.

So the physics are great. The control system is extremely easy to learn but extremely hard to master (but very rewarding). And the game is rich with touches that indicate this is the third pass for Clap-Handz, not a 1st generation attempt.

Another thing I really enjoy about this game is how all the extras that open up slowly as you gain confidence. The last thing you need when you start out and suck is to see pages of stats showing you how much you suck, and replays of you sucking.. all this is nicely hidden until you get your first under-par score (thoughtfully recorded in an auto-diary function). The learning curve is nicely graduated and the game is always able to challenge you without being annoyingly hard.

HSG3 is also very easy to pick up and play. It oozes pick up and play.. I'm so addicted I leave mine at the menu screen day and night.. flipping the TV over to the component video cables from the ps2 when I feel like getting lost in a round or three.. the game lets you fast forward through the holes (after the stroke is played or when your computer opponent is hitting) using the O button so you can either let it do its full graphical things when you want to enjoy a shot and are happy, or you can rush when you're annoyed and losing..

There is so much to mention in the game, and almost all of it good or great. The few negatives I can think of is that the english localization of this top seller has replaced the japanese characters with slightly sillier ones .. and neither the players nor the caddies have enough unique lines to say. If more time were spent on recording lines, and less on adding different colored outfits, the game would be even better.. also, the way the caddies run across water or over mountains to reach the ball looks a little silly, and the grass and trees could at least wave a little in the winds. But honestly this is really minor stuff.

I still hate the idea of real golf, but at least now I can see why people lose their spare time to it. Good computer golf captures almost everything about real golf except for the expense and the excercise. And HSG3 is really the only golf game you need.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/11/02, Updated 04/11/02

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