Pool Nation – Review

A review of Pool Nation I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

In the world of sport, pool is one of the great levellers.

When stepping up to a table everyone, with the right amount of alcohol acting as a lubricant, fancies themselves as a bit of a pool hustler. This is, of course, a fallacy as it is a game that requires a modicum of skill. That’s when it’s best to turn to the heightened fantasy world of video games, meaning that Pool Nation for the PlayStation 3 should be one for the would-be pool sharks out there.

Pool, when said to the average person, calls up images of smokey pubs and green tables covered with red and yellow balls. That’s just one variant of pool, Pool Nations covers all of the pool spectrum; from 9 Ball, to that pool that they play on American TV shows that no one knows how to play. All of this is rendered in meticulous fashion; the balls gleam in their HD glory as they nestle on to the brightly coloured baize beneath them. The varnished pool cues move like silk as they flawlessly connect with the cue ball, chalk dust bursting into the air like the tiniest of fireworks. The replays you can create in the game look superb.

This great look is backed up by a solid physics engine which, lets be honest, if it wasn’t there would send Pool Nation straight into the bin. But no, the balls move exactly as you would expect, so no issues there at all.

The game can be played in several modes: an ongoing tournament mode which pits you against computer players of increasing skill that allows you to unlock more customisation choices; an very enjoyable and tense endless mode that has you potting balls until either you stop or the game stops you; more multiplayer modes than you can shake a pool cue at both online and in the same room. All of this adds together to a great package, there is plenty here to satisfy both the casual and the hardcore pool fan.

This is helped by the various aids you can add to Pool Nation; you can add lines to see where your shot will end up if you just want to pick up and play. Or you can turn all of these off to really make it a game. These can be added to multiplayer games as well to help you pitch the game at the right kind of level you’re comfortable with.

But then, all you are doing is playing pool. All the fancy graphics are great but the game is easiest to play in the bog standard above the table view which you’ll end up in for the majority of the time you’re playing the game. It’s a game made by fans of pool for fans of pool and in that respect it’s audience is limited. But thats okay, this isn’t a game that’s doing to go out of the way to suck in the random passing person, that isn’t really what Pool Nation is built to do. Pool Nation is built to get you playing pool and having fun and in that regard the game is a massive success.

Four stars out of five

Originally published August 13th 2013

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