On The Fore Front

Hot Shots golf series is cool, especially for people who aren't big fans of the game

HOT SHOTS GOLF 3 for PlayStation 2, $80. Rating: NNN

GRAPHICS: Rough and ready.
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Stroke play works best with a friend.
ADDICTIVENESS: High, especially if you want to make par.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: Infuriatingly high.

Rating: NNNNN

Thanks to our new instant summer, with July temperatures now conveniently available in April, golf time is truly any time. For those who want the club-shattering frustration of chipping a ball over the green and into a pond without leaving home, though, there are always video games.The third instalment of PlayStation 2’s Hot Shots golf series is not the real-life, accurate-down-to-the-tree-placement sim of Tiger Woods PGA Tour or the awesome Links franchise. This is golf for people who don’t particularly like the game itself.

The players range from bearded slobs with beer bellies to women in high heels, and your caddy makes smart-ass comments about how terrible your game is. Unlike the real thing, it’s very easy not to take this too seriously. Get a few rounds in, though, and it’s surprising how realistic some of Hot Shots Golf 3 can actually be.

Wackiness aside, the game play here is fairly straight. Courses are more difficult than they look, and all aspects of your game, particularly putting, require total concentration if you don’t want your score to balloon. It is just a silly game, but it’s surprising how quickly it can progress from a pleasant diversion into an infuriating imitation golf game.

Even when it’s just on your television screen, sending a putt an inch past the hole can drive you mad, but you’ll look more dignified shouting obscenities in your living room than on a delicately sculpted green in front of three of your friends. mattg@nowtoronto.com

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