Review: Hustle Kings
Up until about four years ago I played pool close to everyday of the week. We had a table in our house that I’d spend hours practicing and while I never entered into any of the local tournaments due to age I always had fun challenging people who were far older and much more experienced with the game. I fell away from it after a while though and lost interest in the day to day regiment of playing for hours on end. With little access to an actual pool table on a regular basis I soon turned to simulation in hopes of getting my ‘fix’ there. It wasn’t until Hustle Kings came out on PSN back in 2009 that I really felt like we had finally received a proper pool game. Not only did it look fantastic but it finally felt like a realistic recreation of pool. Switching camera angles to look around the positioning of balls around the table, fine tuning my aim to set up the perfect shot, adding spin and setting up the right amount of power just felt right. The single player campaign, numerous game modes and lots of stuff to unlock just added to the fun.
To put it simply the Vita version of Hustle Kings is mostly the same game. The difference of course being that you can now take it with you on the go, some slight alterations to the campaign and touch controls have been added. Just as in the PSN version the game starts you out in a tutorial that’ll teach you everything you need to know about pool. For a game that’ll cater very well to experienced players it’s awesome to know that Hustle Kings still remains accessible to those new to the game. That being said it’d be wise to go in knowing the basics and some of the terminology.
Before getting to the touch controls the only big change from the PSN to the Vita version comes in the single player campaign. While the PSN version featured four different skill levels with ten challenges each the Vita version is divided into eight skill levels with six challenges each. Despite that the career is still set up in the same way. Challenges revolve around winning a game of 8-ball, 9-ball or pocketing a set number of balls in a set time limit and the occasional trick shot. There’s multiple variations that come into play throughout the campaign and I personally felt like the difficulty curve seemed a little more gradual on the Vita. That being said the later stages of the campaign are still really difficult and one missed shot can spell disaster for you.
The touch screen controls for Hustle Kings work wonderfully and quickly become second nature. They are not mandatory to use and, if you so choose, you can sort of mix and match different controls elements to your liking. I personally did much of my aiming with the left analog stick while solely using touch controls for adding chalk, spin and performing my shot. Each action you perform makes sense in the context of the control and works exactly how you’d want. Adding chalk to your cue is just simply tapping an icon on the screen, adding spin is done by tapping the part of the ball you want to hit and you shoot by simply pulling down and pushing upward on the screen. Besides that you can also move the Vita around to control the camera in one of the viewing modes to help with aiming each shot. I don’t know if I’d exclusively use touch controls for Hustle Kings but what’s there works and it somehow just feels right.
Lastly and what’s probably the coolest feature of all is the new cross-platform play between the PS3 and Vita. It totally works. Chris and I played a match together with him on the PS3 and me on a Vita. The game ran just as smooth as ever. There was no way to distinguish that we were playing on different consoles and that’s probably the best thing you can ask from a feature such as this.
Purchasing Hustle Kings nets you both versions of the game for the same price which is already pretty awesome. If you played a lot of the PS3 version then there’s really not a lot of new stuff here besides the cross-platform play and touch controls. Though considering you get both versions for one price I’m okay with those being the only new additions.
I really believe that anyone with an interest in pool, no matter what your skill level, will have fun with Hustle Kings. The fact that you can get both versions for the price of one just sweetens the deal and sets the stage for how future cross-platform enabled games should be handled.
You can also check out Chris’s review of the PSN version of the game if you like.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Looks just as good and plays just as great as the PSN version
- Lots of content
- Touch controls are great
- Cross-platform play works
What I Dislike:
- DLC Chalk is still dumb
- They removed "A game with shiny balls, developed by VooFoo Studios.”