Back in January, I previewed a game that had become an addiction for me – Shot-Online. At that time, the game was still officially in Beta, though it was the best Beta version of a game I'd ever experienced.
Nobody ever expected that the game would ever be released as anything other than a free online multiplayer game; there was a pay component in place already to bring money into the company, and it seemed to be working pretty well. New courses were being released, improvements were being made, and things were good.
Then I read the press release. Well, actually I read the article here at Blogcritics, promising that Shot-Online was coming out in an actual box this summer. And I wondered what they were going to do with the free version I'd become addicted to. How were they going to get people to shell out $29.99 for the game when they could download it for free?
The game is pretty much the same as it has been. The layout is the same, the interface is the same. Once you're in the game, nobody else can tell you're playing the game out of the box.
But your $29.99 gets you a few goodies. First, you get a voucher for item mall currency. Normally, you have to spend real money for this stuff – $10 gets you 1,000 cyber cash, to use to buy better clubs, cooler clothes, and other extras that enhance the game and your character's skills. The voucher gives you 2,000 cash to use in the item mall, so there's $20 right there.
You can get a decent set of irons with that much cash, and still have a bit left over. You also get a voucher for a free "lottery card," that will give you yet another rare item that will enhance your stats, and an entry into some of the Gold Membership Invitational tournaments, where you can win really nice prizes – including real world cash.
I mentioned some enhancements. My favorite is the 'club fitting' feature, allowing you to customize your clubs. You spend item mall cash to get fitting tickets, then use those tickets to upgrade the power, impact, stamina, or skill modifiers of your clubs. Having trouble controlling that new driver? Boost its impact rating, and hit the ball long and straight.
There is a lot of potential here, and it makes the game more realistic. There are also two new courses that aren't even covered in the full color manual.
Cadeiger is tough, as the fairways are suspended in the air. Miss a fairway, lose your ball. It's only open to higher-level players, though. There's also Token Tado CC Nagoya, based on a real course in Japan. I've played it quite a bit recently — the greens are brutal there.
So is the boxed version worth an extra thirty bucks? I would say so, if you spend your 2,000 in the item mall wisely and do well in the invitational tournaments that you can enter. It will be interesting to see how many new players this added exposure will bring to Shot-Online.
Below is the full text of our preview:
I've played some MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Games) before. Not any of the famous ones, like the Ultima series or Everquest. I played simple ones. When I first started on AOL I played a detective game called Modus Operandi. More recently, I enjoyed playing Legends of Cosrin. Neither game featured 3D graphics or stereo sound, but both had one feature that I think is vital – they were free.
I've missed out on a lot of the popular MMORPGs just because of that one criterion. But I've found one that, while there's no roleplaying involved, is decidedly multiplayer, increasingly massive, and extremely free. It's a golf game that actually motivated me to uninstall Links 2001 (though I still enjoy Links 2003 every so often) – Shot Online.
I found the game through an open beta about a year ago. The beta was very stable, and I loved playing it. It's a large file, though, and my tiny (40GB) hard drive didn't like it once I started podcasting, so sacrifices had to be made.
The arrival of my shiny new 80GB drive a few weeks ago changed that, so I downloaded the game once again. To my delight, they've improved it, and it's still free to play.
You start off picking your character, based on six different models (though Aldus may only be available temporarily). Each character has strength and weaknesses, and you can have multiple characters per account. You then train, learning exactly how to hit the ball (which is easy if you've ever played a three-click computer golf game before).
Just like in traditional MMORPGs, there is leveling involved; the better you play, the more experience you get per hole. You get experience when other players in your group do well, and playing with higher-level players helps you gain experience too. Money for better equipment comes as you play each hole, beat your opponents in each round of golf, and level up. Equipment impacts your stats — buy a better driver, and your power increases, but your accuracy decreases. Better irons make you more accurate, but the ball doesn't go as far.
The beta offered four courses, of varying difficulty. I spent all my time on the easy course, just because I liked shooting birdies and putting for eagles much more than chipping in for bogey. Now there are ten courses, with more on the way (later this month, actually), and I'm playing different courses. And still having fun.
There is a pay component involved, but it's optional. There are certain items that are only available if you pay real cash to get in-game 'cash,' which is not the same as the in-game currency you win as you play. Super powerful drivers, and medallions that give you more experience and more money as you play, etc. are all available for a price.
And the price is actually affordable. Not so much that a cheapo like me will pay it right now, but enough that many people will pay it, and the game is self-supporting.
So head over to the site and download this easy to play, highly addictive online golf game. And if you see WKelly in the game, send me a message and we'll play nine. After all, it's free!
Shot-Online is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.