Remember Hustle Kings, the Pool game for PS3 and PSVita? Well it’s developers VooFoo have evolved their proposition into Pure Pool for PS4. Is it a new game or a well marketed lick of paint?
Let’s be honest the question above is a little unfair. How new and different can ANY Pool game be? And by Pool we don’t mean a sitting by a swimming pool with a pint of beer simulator. We mean the game of Billiards. The actual game and the variations on it’s rules (encompassed in PurePool) are true and tried so the opportunity for original gameplay is limited, at least at the core level of the game.
Where VooFoo’s previous effort excelled was it range of options, especially it’s online options. You could have online games, join ‘rooms’ and set wagers (using the in game currency, gained by winning matches – hence the whole ‘Hustle’ theme). Heck you could even do shot by shot via the net play (like chess) for non-real time games! The title was also cross platform with PS3 and Vita versions working together. PurePool builds on Hustle but also ditches some of the gameplay and mechanics.
For example in the Hustle game you have a variety of views, before taking your shot, including the traditional over-head view (traditional as, er, traditionally Snooker and Pool games only had this view). This has now gone, but has been replaced with the ability walk around the table via the control sticks and look from side to side with the touch pad. Whilst walking you cannot see the ‘guide lines’ which show you where the ball is going to go and rebound, as you can in the top down view. Some would say this is a shame as if the developers are taking a step backwards, but we feel it adds to the authenticity of the game, making it more of a simulation and game of skill and judgement.
There is still a robust online platform, you can challenge friends, and there are league tables. In addition you can play CPU players, or real player’s ‘dna profiles’, a bit like playing their digital avatar (or like the ‘squads’ idea in COD). You can even create your own league table which is really cool. Without online there are a strong number of tournaments to work your way through too.
Gone is the wager system, but some might have found that a distraction anyway, and instead you play for performances and the ability to rise up the league table.
The game looks and sounds terrific. Clearly the PS4 is a major step up from the PS3 and of course Vita. Whilst the billiard balls themselves have never been shinier, it’s ALL the other textures and surfaces which stand out. The material on the table really looks like a fabric and walls, tables and other elements of the room and furniture feel real. The sounds are excellent too, with a lovely sound for when you hit the balls, and combined with those lovely graphics all you need is a ’4D’ smell experience and you could be there.
The frame rate is good too, the game is so smooth and fast. As with the real game, playing a game can be frustrating, not due to the controls but due to the fact once you have played a shot and it’s missed, rebounded or maybe even launched off the table you only have yourself to blame. However, set the table up for practise mode and it’s really, really relaxing.
If there is a minor gripe it’s that the camera likes to swish around the table after a shot and sometimes it doesn’t show you the action from the right angle and can be a little disorientating. This isn’t the camera you use for lining up your shots though, but a post shot ‘effect’, which is a off point.
Sure no one buys a PS4 to play Pool or Snooker games (sorry VooFoo) BUT if you bought a PS4 to play BF4 and then want something you can chill to, which feels like a game of skill, with superb physics, then this is a great investment.