Title. Pool Nation Developer. CherryPop Games Platform(s). XBLA UK Release date: Out Now
First off, I will admit coming into this review I questioned what anyone could get out of playing a videogame that is – let’s face it – very easy to go and play the real thing. However that may seem rather dismissive so let’s see what Pool Nation has to offer.
Pool Nation is a sports game based around (you guessed it) pool, not the swimming kind of ‘pool’, I’m thinking pub game, 8ball, spots and stripes, red and yellow (if you’re English) you get the picture. The game offers 9 game types from single player modes such as Endurance in which you ‘pot against the clock’ and compete for high scores, to Versus Mode which allows you to play against other people via XBL. The game has the usual unlockables including ball sets, decals and cues. These are gained through achieving feats throughout the 9 game types. The main single player mode 8 or 9 Ball Tours, require you to play against a varied cast of characters with back-stories that have no impact on anything, which felt rather pointless, anyway I digress. You can also unlock more of the above by completing ‘Bonus Rounds’ which have different rules to the main tours; in each game you will be able to obtain 3 stars 1 for winning the other 2 for meeting those feats, more stars = more rewards…
So with a game based around a single aspect of gameplay in this case the physics engine, it will certainly make up a bulk of the /10, so does it work? I am thrilled to announce it does, the game is very responsive and quick to get into. Just line the cue up with the left thumb stick, you’ll see a line of trajectory, pull the right thumb stick back, push it forward and bingo you’re playing! Thankfully the game has a lot more to it than that, the controls are very in depth meaning those wishing to invest the time, can become extremely good at it. The Tutorial is solid and teachers you the ins and outs of how to become a master one-step at a time. Furthermore the game rewards your efforts by giving you a healthy amount of bonus points for achieving trick shots, you can also view them in super slow motion, who knew there could be so much creativity on pool table? All this technical stuff is great but for me it was the ability to jump straight in and play ‘learn by doing’ as I often say, that will make the game enjoyable for casual players like myself. The game was so fault free in fact; that my only gripe was with the repetitive music, once that was off I was free to enjoy myself. Pro tip! You know how you get better at Pool after a few beers? Well – that doesn’t work in Pool Nation.
So I’ll put my balls on the line here and say this is a really good pool game! It’s responsive, easy to get into and very pretty with it’s near photo realistic graphics. Sure it doesn’t do a lot, but what it does do - it does extremely well. If you like pool but you’re not old enough to go to the pub then this is the game for you! For only 800ms £6.80 it’s a bargain.