While I’m not that great at pool, I’ve always loved playing it through video games, with fond memories of the classic Virtual Pool franchise coming to mind. While I’ve never had the chance to play their game called Hustle Kings, VooFoo Studios has really outdone themselves in their latest release Pure Pool. It may lack some features that are standard in most pool games, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful looking and realistic experience than this, outside of going to a pool hall yourself.
When you first play, you’re treated to a tutorial that shows off the simple-to-get-into but difficult-to-master controls and gameplay. The left analog stick aims your cue stick while pulling back and flicking the right stick forward controls how hard you hit the ball. There’s also buttons to stand up and walk around the table to get a better view or different shot, and other buttons to pick up the ball, use fine aim and add spin to your shot. A neat feature is that you can use the DualShock 4’s touch pad to look left and right while in aim mode to help get a better view of the table and make those precise shots when need be. It doesn’t help all of the time though, as sometimes there are moments when you can’t really move the view exactly like you want and just have to make do with what you can.
As with most pool games, there are some lines that appear on the table while you’re aiming to help show you where the ball is going to go and how it will interact with the table. The cool thing I like about the one featured here is that it’s just enough to help without holding your hand all the way. For example, if you’re hitting a ball that’s fairly close, then the lines will show you exactly how the ball is going to interact with the other ones and the table. But if your shot is far off or you’re trying to aim across the table, the lines will spread out and fade as to show there’s no telling where the ball is going and what will happen when you hit it. So it’s just enough for newcomers and casual players to have fun and feel like they’re doing something, but not enough to annoy and distract hardcore pool players.
Once you’ve gotten used to the game and controls, you can check out the many modes on the game, such as career modes for both 8-Ball and 9-Ball. Here you’ll get to play popular skill games in pool like potting against the clock, killer and more. If you really want to take your skills to the next level, there’s also online modes where you can make a pool league with your friends or just play against others at your skill level that are looking for a challenge.
To take things even further, you can download the DNA of real world players to play against offline, much like the “ghosts” from Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart games. The AI will play just like the player you’ve selected and will do things from playing it safe to going all out on the table that’s sure to keep any player on their toes. While VooFoo Studios get a lot of things right here, there’s also some minor things that keep it from being the ultimate pool game it could’ve been.
There are a few features that should’ve been standard here, such as replays of your shots, customizing certain aspects of the game such as your cue stick, and the lack of other pool modes such as billiards or snooker to really liven things up. Besides that, at least the game plays as beautiful as it looks. Never before have I’ve witnessed a better looking pool game, as everything here is super detailed. From the felt on the table, the grain in your cue stick, the glossy effect and physics of the balls, and even people quietly talking and mingling at the bar in the background while jazzy tunes play serve to perfectly capture being at a real pool hall / bar outside of really going to one. I noticed there’s a DLC section on the game, so here’s hoping some of those missing features can be patched in and added the near future.
For it to be a small download and only $12 at the time of this review, Pure Pool is surprisingly one of the better games I’ve played on the PS4 or anywhere this year. While it’s missing some features that keep it from being the best it could be, it is without a doubt the best pool game out there right now. Casual and hardcore pool players alike will love the realistic graphics and physics, as well as the challenging modes here that’s sure to rack up any who come to the table for quite some time.