Review: Pure Pool (PS4)

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Title: Pure Pool
Format: PlayStation Network Download (508 MB)
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: RipStone LTD.
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Original MSRP: $12.99 (US), €12.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Pure Pool is also available on PC.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

If you know me, then you’ll also know that I love a good game of Pool or Snooker. Having fewer opportunities to play either of them in real life, I tend to get my fix from the video game simulations instead. Sadly I’ve only reviewed one billiards game since I started reviewing for PS Nation and that was International Snooker for the PS3. It didn’t end well. In fact I think my love for the game has been scarred by that title.

Gameplay:
Moving the left stick controls the camera and where you’re shooting, the right stick controls the cue and the buttons for making fine adjustments or adding spin. You can see where the balls are going by the on-screen guide lines which fade away long before reaching the other end of the table and only shows where the next ball will go if you’re close enough to it.

The developers wanted this to truly be pure unadulterated Pool, even not allowing an overhead view of the game, instead you can ‘Stand Up’ and move around the table and even turn you head by using the touch pad.

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You can jump into a quick On or Offline match, set up or continue a Tournament, or play the Career Mode with loads of matches against computer controlled opponents, playing either a standard game of 8 or 9 ball Pool, Killer, Accumulator, Royal Rumble, Perfect Potter and a Speed Pot. There aren’t any trick shot games which is fine by me but I’m sure some Hustle Kings fanatics will be disappointed. You have to amass stars by completing certain goals in each game to be able to progress to the next section.

AI in this game is okay, better than the inconsistent Hustle Kings players but definitely not perfect, sometimes pointlessly waiting to take a shot after they’ve lined it up is the most annoying thing. It’ll just wait with a very annoying pregnant pause for what seems like ages. But other times it’ll blitz the table as if trying to get out of there before the last train leaves. This might be the ‘Player DNA’ inclusion trying to make the computer seem more lifelike, it just doesn’t work well enough to pull it off.

Playing against some of the harder opponents in the career mode can really test your skills and at times, your patience, because some of the shots they pull off are bordering on the insane. Some games I’m left helpless the entire time hoping for one tiny mistake so I get a chance to pot my first ball. This is like real life, except in this I’m not being hustled out of my drinking money.

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When it boils down to, is that this is an excellent and enjoyable game of Pool that plays very well and the ball physics are spot on. Aside from the large single player career there is a league mode which allows you to set up and play in a league with friends and others that you invite from the players list. Sadly I have only had a chance to set up a league but not play any games due to conflicting schedules.

Visuals:
VooFoo Studios has done a tremendous job of recreating the entire game of Pool, right down to the fibers in the table’s smooth cloth and the grain in the wood. Pool balls have never looked so good especially when compared to any other billiards game. Every other one doesn’t even come close.

One of the most annoying and pointless features is the continuous notification of online players, which at first I thought was people on my friends list, then after a minute I realized it hadn’t stopped. The penny dropped, this is every single player on Pure Pool. It never relents, a constant pointless stream of people that I don’t know. Another annoying thing I noticed which could easily be patched, if you leave the controller to switch off, then Pure Pool takes it on itself to let you know the controller has been disconnected, but it keeps on telling you this even when the controller is on again and you’re playing the game.

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The camera does an adequate job of keeping up with the action when you take a shot but sadly doesn’t pan out or around enough to show where every ball went. I would sometimes see a potential foul ball heading dangerously close to a pocket, only to see it disappear out of view as the camera centers on the larger group of balls. I’m left wondering for a few moments if I’d made a foul shot or not. But that is my biggest criticism when it comes to the visuals and I bet most people probably would never notice.

One thing I do like is the touch pad controlling the camera panning, which mimics your head movement, allowing you to look around the Pool table whilst taking your shot. It is a brilliant use of the touch pad and a feature which I now use quite often.

Audio:
Sounds like a real game of Pool in my old local Pool hall albeit without the annoying drunks in the background. It does feature some indistinct chatter from the stylish Pool hall patrons in the background and some easy on the ears music.

Online/Multiplayer:
It works very well, so well in fact that I almost forgot it was online. Gameplay was as smooth as the table we were playing on and I never noticed any lag or glitch. On one occasion the other player was away from the controller for too long and so ended up forfeiting.

You can even play with people who aren’t online using a players DNA profile which the game builds and adjusts every time that person plays. You end up playing an AI interpretation of that player which attempts to mimic the play style, accuracy and even the amount of time they take between shots.

So far the DNA system seems to work quite well and is a nice idea, but if you’d rather play with the actual person then you can easily send an invite. Sadly however I couldn’t find a way of searching for a particular person to grab their DNA other than scrolling down a colossal list.

Conclusion:
This easily kicks that last billiards game I reviewed squarely in the balls, and laughs at its pitiful attempt to satisfy my fix. With a solid online component and an impressive desire to look better an real life, this’ll easily quench my billiards addiction. Any scars I had from the Snooker game have well and truly healed.

I would have liked a few more options and the choice to have an overhead camera, even if it was only when practicing, but the developers wanted this to be as real as possible. So real they took the name quite literally and didn’t give us a Snooker or trick shots option, this is just Pure Pool. Is that a bad thing? Well that’s up to you to decide.

Score: 
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 and the Vita’s built in screen capture feature. Video was obtained using the SHAREfactory app on the PlayStation 4 and also edited with specialized PC software.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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