What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG) that supports text chat communication. In other words, potential exists for players to stumble across all manner of language and subject matter. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for children under age 12. Note as well that while the game is technically free, most players will feel compelled to spend money on optional items that will improve their performance. These virtual items, purchased in sufficient quantity, have the potential to make Shot Online a much more costly piece of entertainment than a standard game because some of the items cost $100 for 6 months.
What's it about?
As unlikely as it may seem, SHOT ONLINE is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game starring golfers. Players can download the software from http://www.gpotato.com/webzen/. Once they create an account they begin wandering around a world map where they can text chat with other players, join groups of like-minded golfers belonging to various guilds, and head out to play on any of more than a dozen courses. The game is free, though you can spend money to buy memberships, clothing, and equipment that will noticeably improve your golfer's power, accuracy, and endurance.
A brief explanation of MMO games: They allow dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people to play a game together in the same virtual world. They have been growing in popularity among game makers because the subscriptions they typically require have turned out to be quite lucrative. The thing about Shot Online is that it requires no subscription. You don't even have to pay for the software. You have access to every course and are able to level up all of your golfer's attributes to their maximums, all without ever paying a dime. That said, you probably won't want to approach the game in this \"free-to-play\" manner. That's because when you start, your golfer has about as much skill as someone who has never picked up a club in his or her life. You will hit drives as far as a professional golfer hits a 9-iron, and, unless you happen to have uncanny timing, you will have a tendency to hit most of your shots off target. Developing these duffers' abilities into those of a scratch golfer takes countless hours.
Is it any good?
Everything gets faster and easier when you start spending money on virtual items designed to improve your golfer's performance. Like a Gold Membership, which significantly increases the rate at which you can earn experience and level up. This is where things start to get expensive. A six-month membership costs a whopping $100. Equipment is less expensive, but most clubs are only usable at certain character levels, which means there is a perpetual need to upgrade. Players can swap certain items with other players and put up old items for auction, but playing the game with an aim to score well is still a pricey proposition. Complicating matters is the fact that the golf is only so-so. The aging graphics hardly measure up to those of modern, console-based golf games, and the mechanics are clunky -- judging the distances your clubs are capable of hitting and taking stock of green elevations, for example, are frustrating trial and error processes. You'd be better off paying for a golf game that doesn't force you to hack your way around the course for the first couple of dozen rounds in order to get better and require you to spend real money on virtual items along the way.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the concept of "massively multiplayer online" games. If a sport like golf can be converted into an online role-playing game, is there any limit to the format? Can you think of any other activities people don't normally associate with massively multiplayer online gaming that could successfully make the transition? What did you think of Shot Online's design? Did you find the slow rate of character improvement to be realistic, or were you frustrated that you couldn't begin shooting sub-par rounds right away?