It’s refreshing to see a first-person game that doesn’t involve shooting. Instead, the cue is the weapon and the balls are the ammunition.
Pool Nation has finally made it on to the PlayStation 3, and luckily it’s just as good as its Xbox 360 counterpart. Pool Nation successfully recreates Pool in both its eight and nine ball forms, along with various different play options when playing with someone else or online.
The single player mode allows players to work their way through several tournaments in both styles, where they will go up against AI controlled opponents, such as Trixie Buffon, The Wild Gomer and Sister Theresa. There are 12 rounds per tournament, with each round requiring a win to proceed. Players can also earn stars by performing certain actions within the round, which, in-turn, unlock bonus rounds and special items.
There is an in-depth tutorial to get players used to all of the kinds of tricks needed to break out if they want to succeed. These range from the standard potting shots, to the more complex moves that will get players out of tricky situations. All of the tutorials allow the player to mess around with all of the controls, and they can always dive back in if they need a refresher.
The tournaments do get harder as they go, but at a nice steady pace, so as not to scare players off. I never felt out of my depth and therefore never got frustrated. It also offers plenty in the way of assists to make things a little easier if need be.
Along with the tournament, the single player menu also offers up an Endurance mode. This is a little like a survival mode, with players having to pot balls as fast as they can. As the timer ticks down, more balls are added to the table. Reach a certain amount and it is game over. It doesn’t sound too exciting, but I did find myself saying ‘Just one more go’ in order to try and best my time.
The two-player and online modes also add different game types to the mix; there is the standard eight and nine ball games, along with Golf, Rotation, Speed and various others, making the multiplayer options even more accessible to the concerting Pool Pro. However, one thing it currently lacks is any real amount of online players. I spent a good chunk of time waiting for someone to join my lobby and when I did manage to snag someone, they disconnected because I wasn’t using a headset. It is safe to say that this game is probably best played on the couch with a friend.
The other thing that didn’t sit right with me was the music. In the menus, and during certain parts of the matches, the music felt just right for a kinetic pool game. Then suddenly, the music changed mid-game into something I would expect to hear from a Japanese RPG. It was a little weird. The music can also get a little repetitive, but this is just me picking bones. If it bothers you that much, you can always turn the music off and listen to your own tunes.
Pool Nation has the look and the feel of a really great Pool sim, and any fan would be advised to pick it up. It may not cater to the wider crowd, but pool games aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, and seeing one come along that does so many things right will make any PS3 playing hustler happy.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.