There are video games for pretty much every sporting event imaginable out there for people to virtually play. When most people think sports though, they think the major ones like basketball, football, or soccer. These games are easy to find and are usually made by a multitude of companies. You’re only real concern is which one to pick. That’s not the case though with some lesser played sports and sometimes what you find isn’t exactly the best representation of that sport but because there are no other alternatives, you’re stuck with an inferior product.
Take for instance pool, aka pocket billiards or billiards. Searching through the PlayStation Store, you’d have found zero recommendations for pool games on the PlayStation 4 and were basically out of luck. However, if you search for it this week, a new game by the name of Pure Pool comes up and is brought to us by Ripstone Games and Voofoo Studios. Luckily for you, this game isn’t crap and is brought to us be the same team that brought us the excellent Hustle Kings on the PS3. Being the only pool game currently on the PS4, there isn’t anything else to compare it to, but that’s okay because this is one of the most realistic and accurate representations of the game of pool I have ever seen and played.
Pure Pool is pretty bare bones when it comes to user interface and options and for the most part, the game throws you directly into the action. You start off on a pool table with all the balls already racked up and waiting. This is basically just a practice session it throws you into and you can go about hitting whatever balls you want. This allows you to get a feel for the game and its mechanics and is also an area where you’re not being pressured by an opponent. This is pretty fantastic because I equate the game of pool to relaxation. Yes, it can be competitive, but the game of pool to me is very relaxing and has a calming effect.
Graphically, Pure Pool is a gorgeously realistic looking game. That’s one of the main things you’ll first notice about the game and it’s just how good it looks. Everything from the reflections on the ball to the felt on the tables, it all looks very realistic, as if you were actually playing a real game of pool. There are even shots you take where the chalk comes off your cue and you’re just staring at it like, wow. Not only that, but the pool hall where you’re playing doesn’t look too bad either. It is blurred a bit, but it really adds to the whole atmosphere of the game.
There is a bit of customization that you can do with Pure Pool. You can change the look of the felt on the table as well as change the cue you use and the color of your tips. These are just little things, but it does help in making the game a bit more personalized.
There are several game mode you can play in Pure Pool. For the most part, I think you’ll mainly be playing either traditional 8-ball or 9-ball. The other two modes are Killer and Accumulator. Of course you also have the option of free play and practice as well as being able to play some challenge missions. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t other game modes included like Snooker, as it would have been nice to learn how to play, but as is, there is still a good game here with the modes included.
Controls here are really easy to pick up as you aim with the left stick, shoot with the right stick, and the face buttons control stuff like accurate aim, spin, and the camera. Controlling the power of the cue is quite intuitive as it is based on how far you pull down on the right thumbstick and how hard you flick it back up. This allows for power shots as well as shots the require more finesse. With the spin option, you’re able to decide where exactly to hit the white ball in order to cause it to spin in a specific rotation. This can affect how the ball rebounds after hitting another ball. You can even slightly affect curve. Sadly, there’s no way to jump a ball like you could in real life.
As many of you know, playing against an AI opponent is always hit or miss. With most games, the AI is either really dumb or way to smart. In Pure Pool, it feels just right. The AI is incredibly good at times within reason, and sometimes they can botch a shot just like a real person would under pressure. Most of the time when I get beat by the AI, it’s because of a mistake I made and not because they are pulling off some overly cheap shots that would be impossible to make under any circumstance.
Of course if you’re tired of playing against the AI, you can always play against some real players via the in-game player DNA system that allows you to download the way a real player would play, straight to your machine. This in theory allows you to play against your friends as if they were really there. It does this by learning how your friends play based on the games they’ve played. Of course they are also learning how you play as well. It’s a neat feature and allows you to virtually play against real like opponents.
Though there isn’t much not to like about Pure Pool, it does have a few little negatives. One of the things I wish they provided here were more options when it comes to the camera angles. You only get the view looking straight down your cue and a stand up view to glance at the positioning of all the balls on the table. For the most part, these work, but sometimes it’s very difficult to properly aim at long distance balls because you can not see the guide lines anymore. If there was a proper overhead view with the guidelines, this would help more, but there isn’t. This caused me to miss a few shots here and there that I wouldn’t have really missed in real life. Also, it would have been neat if we could also pull the camera back a little for a wider view of the table, especially if we are trying to pull of bank shots. Lastly, it would have been nice if it were possible to pull off some trick shots, like jumping the ball.
Pure Pool is one of the best pool (billiards) games on the PS4, and not because it’s your only real option on there. Although there are no other pool games out there on the PS4 to compare this to, Pure Pool is the game to buy. That’s not a terrible thing though because Pure Pool is a very enjoyable and accurate experience. This is as realistic as you can get right now, despite a few little disappointments, but overall, Pure Pool delivers. It also helps that the game is very inexpensive at only $12.99. For this price, I can overlook the fact that it might not have as many game modes as I’d like, but for what it does have, it is very fun and enjoyable. So far, this has been one of those games that I’ve begun playing on a daily basis, mainly when I want to relax or if I want to shoot a round or two of pool before I have to go do something. It’s a very easy to game to pick up and play and one that players of all ages and skill will enjoy.
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