It’s been a while since I last played a pool sim. In fact, I haven’t picked up a virtual cue since Pool Paradise on the PS2. It is something that has been sorely lacking for billiards fans. However, Pool Nation sets about to right that wrong.
There isn’t much to say about the set up of the game. It’s pool, plain and simple. But in order to become king of the green baize, you must first hone your skills.
There are three main types of game: 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Endurance. The 8-Ball and 9-Ball modes are set up in tournament style. There are four tournaments in each mode and each tournament has 12 matches, each with progressively difficult opponents. But the first thing you will need to do is work through the tutorial. This gives you an excellent starting point, showing you all you need to become a world-class player. The game does suffer from some very cheap opponents as you progress through the matches, and there were times when I didn’t even get to take a single shot. It really is annoying when you don’t even get a chance to prove your worth, but at least you can retry the level.
When it comes to actually playing, the game really does give you a great level of control over your shots. You control the angle, the spin, the power and the point of impact. The game also shows you the predicted course of your shot, allowing you to get to grips with the game’s ball physics. Once you master these things, you can then turn off the aim assistant and go it alone. Because of the level of control you have over your shot, it’s possible to do all manner of fancy shots; bank shots, jump shots, swerve shots and even running the rails. These will take a while to master them all, but by having all the tools you need at your fingertips, it gives you a level of control rarely seen in a pool game.
The game also requires you to complete challenges during your matches. There are three challenges per match and include scoring a certain amount of points and potting the last ball with a skill shot. There are almost 300 stars to gain via these challenges, and by earning enough during you will unlock a bonus match. Win one of those, and you will unlock new balls, baize or cues.
The game also supports both online and offline two player games. These are easy to set up, and with the online modes, allow you to find players similar to your skill level. As with the single player games, both 8-Ball and 9-Ball modes are available to play.
The third mode is Endurance, and it is incredibly challenging. In this mode, you start out with eight balls. The goal is to keep potting as fast as possible. As time passes by, more balls are added to the table. Once you get to 24 balls, then the challenge is over. It’s all about lasting as long as possible. I played this mode quite a few times, but only managed 2min 50secs.
In a specialist genre like pool sims, Pool Nation does a grand job of filling the void. Although most players will get through the tournaments in a matter of hours, the fun comes from building your skill level and collecting stars. The multiplayer will also provide many ways for you to show off as well. For those reasons, Pool Nation is a must buy for fans of the sport.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.