Review: Pure Pool
Pure Pool is VooFoo Studios (Hustle Kings) attempt at, as the name would imply, a ‘pure’ pool experience. This means that certain elements that you might find in a more arcadey version of pool are no longer present. This is all fine and well, but unfortunately it leads to design decisions that left me scratching my head.
One of the best things that Pure Pool has going for it, is the interface and just how quick you can get to any game mode. Upon start-up the game immediately puts you in a free play mode with a fresh 8-ball rack. You can endlessly play in this free play mode just to practice if that’s something you’d like or you can press the Options button to pull up the menu. All menus in Pure Pool slide in seamlessly from the left without interrupting the game at all. While some of the options could be made easier to find (some of them are placed in weird spots) the menu itself is very fast and slick. You can jump from a practice game straight into a career game within seconds. There’s never any loading it all just happens instantly.
On top of that Pure Pool serves to be one of the best looking pool games I’ve ever played. Obviously there’s not a whole lot of things going on in pool, but that just leaves room for everything to look that much better. I’m sure many others will point out how shiny the balls are, but it was the table fabric that stood out to me over and over again. I used to own a pool table and I played just about every day for at least a couple hours. Seeing just how insanely detailed the fabric of the table was in this game left me super impressed. There’s even moments where you can see marks left on the fabric in the way that they would appear in real life.
Unfortunately, it’s the actual ‘playing’ of Pure Pool where things aren’t quite as good as you’d hope. Due to the aim to make a ‘pure’ experience you have very few options when it comes to gameplay. There’s no difficulty options outside of who you’re playing throughout the career, there are no aim guide options, and there are no options for enabling WPA regulation rules. The last one I mention because the game doesn’t follow a few well known rules and it bothers me. For instance, while playing 8-ball if you pocket the 8-ball on the break you automatically lose. You also do not have to call your shot which can easily lead to cheap shots from someone who clearly wasn’t aiming for a specific pocket.
Pure Pool also removes a lot of camera options that you might expect from a pool game. Again, this is clearly because they wanted a more authentic pool experience, but the camera angles provided lead to issues of their own. You have a small window in which you can look around from behind the cue ball by dragging your finger across the touch pad. You’re are also able to stand up and essentially walk around the table. Neither of these allow you to get a good look at shots that require you to go the length of the table and sometimes walking around the table leads to pockets being obscured. In limiting the camera angles I feel like I’m losing out on angles that I would still get in real life. When it comes to facing Master level opponents in the career I feel like I’m at a disadvantage.
The AI in Pure Pool can be pretty punishing. As you progress through different tournaments you’ll face AI ranked from Amateur to Master in a variety of game modes. (8-ball, 9-ball, Killer, Accumulator, Speed Pocket, etc.) Eventually you’ll face opponents that can very easily run the table on you if you miss even one shot and, while that’s realistic when it comes to professional pool players, it can be pretty rough. Especially when you’re unable to skip the AI’s turn. (And the AI really takes their time with their shots.) I probably wouldn’t mind the difficulty that much if the game featured more better camera angles, but as it is right now it can be pretty frustrating.
Since Pure Pool released a little over two weeks ago I’ve seen a number of people complain about the online being broken. For one the game is constantly alerting you to EVERY SINGLE USER who owns and signs into the game. Which means there is constantly a bar in the top left of the screen telling you the PSN name of everyone playing. I personally haven’t had a terrible experience actually playing against others online though. Over the past few days I’ve played a decent number of matches and each of them went fine. That said, the game always matched me up against the same two people so it would seem that not a lot of people are actually playing the game online.
There’s a lot of things about Pure Pool that bug me, but it’s still a good pool game. The physics are spot on and that’s what really counts. I’ve still had a good amount of fun with the game and I probably will play more of it even after this review. That said, I’m a bit disappointed after their last pool outing, Hustle Kings.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- One of the best looking pool games I've ever played
- Great physics
- Slick and fast interface
What I Dislike:
- Poor camera angles
- Not many options
- 8-ball doesn't follow WPA regulations
- Game shows every user playing online constantly
- Unable to skip the AI's shots