Inferno Pool is not what you would expect considering the name. This isn’t really your standard game of billiards nor is it one that is one fire. Instead Inferno Pool is a combination of classic puzzle games mixed with furious billiards action that is best enjoyed with multiple people. The concept is as simple as every shot you make sends balls over to the other players table, but there are other variables that make up the depth of the title. As a downloadable game it isn’t bad, but it also isn’t anything to write home about either.
The game does offer the standard eight and nine ball options, but the bulk of what makes the title stand out is the Inferno mode. There are plenty of options here as you can take the action online, split screen or even against the computer in a race to clear your table. This frantic pace keeps the action going and seeing who can pocket the most balls is definitely a sound design for an addictive downloadable title. The problems begin to stem from the sensitive controls. Lining up a shot takes much more effort that you can imagine, and when you are constantly working to make at least one ball per shot, it can get frustrating.
It seems that no matter which side you are trying to angle on the line always wants to be a fraction of a hair off target. When playing multi-player this becomes a shoot-fest where everyone ends up just winging it to the best of their ability. What amazes me is that with such a simple controls scheme that something like this would even be an issue. You literally use the left analog to aim and the right to shoot. Tweaking the angles and smoothness of the controls should have been first priority.
There is also a solo mode called Endurance where the object is to last as long as you can as the computer continues to toss balls onto your table. For the first few minutes this is fairly simple as shots are constantly falling into place, but then it becomes insane and earning those few extra Achievements/Trophies will take tons of patience and a mastery of the slippery controls. Outside of that the traditional pool modes will occupy those looking for a decent game of pool, but anyone really looking for that can just grab Bankshot Billiards and call it a day.
Unfortunately outside of that the game really feels empty. Going online shortly after launch finds you searching and searching for games to join as there simply isn’t anyone playing the game. Locally you can have quite a bit of enjoyment, but be warned that once the screen splits four ways things become nearly unplayable. I love the idea of the game but it seems not able to stand on its own for more than a quick session. I cannot see myself playing this one much past release. Thankfully Xbox Live always has the demo option so you can try it out for yourself, but be warned there isn’t much past the initial experience to keep you hooked.
Visually the game takes on a more dingy approach by offering tables that look like they were borrowed from the Goodwill. There are stains and rust all over them and sometimes unidentified liquids spilled on their felt that you may not want to know the origin of. By design it looks good, and until you split the screen up four ways the game runs relatively smooth. The music on the other hand is absolutely atrocious. It feels generic and really drives home a migraine after a few minutes of exposure. I did enjoy the voiceover though as he reminds me of the Mortal Kombat announcer.
Inferno Pool is a cool concept hindered by slippery controls and poor replay value. The main hook of the game just doesn’t draw you into the experience the way it should, and the options of eight and nine ball are nice, but have been done better in other games. I suggest checking out the demo if you have any interest in the game, but also to keep in mind that outside of the initial twist on the genre, there isn’t enough here to warrant a purchase.