I bet I am not alone in always wanting a pool table in my house, and I am sure it would be very nice but practicalities tend to get in the way of such dreams, so why not have a virtual one?
Pool/snooker games have been around for many a year now, and they have all done their jobs admirably yet always just don`t cut it.
Pool Nation by Mastertronic and cherrypop Games is one of those little gems that you stumble across every now and again, and it is the best pool simulator I have ever played.
The first thing you notice apart from the irritating music (which you can thankfully turn off) is the amount of effort the developers have put into making Pool Nation look and feel so real.
The graphics are stunning with a wide variety of tables and locations.
With different skill levels available and plenty of tutorials it’s easy to get the hang of it; the left stick alters the angle and the view whilst the right stick is for striking, the Dpad is for positioning (for those all-important trick shots) and the triggers alter the angle of the cue again important for jumping and other fancy stuff.
Pool Nation has a number of modes Single or multiplayer, endurance and xbox live, with a nice mixture of games including 8 Ball, 9 Ball, Killer and Golf.
Endurance is an interesting mode, you basically have to keep potting to stay alive, balls are constantly added, and as soon as it reaches 24 it’s all over.
The quicker you pot them then the sooner your power gauge builds up allowing you to slow down time so you can catch up.
AI opponents aren`t too bad with some strange names with what looks like pictures of the developers as the characters, they can be a challenge to beat, and each is different.
Where this game really comes to life though is as two player.
It’s the closest you`ll get to the real thing so far, don`t expect to be playing this on line much though.
When I tried I couldn`t find anyone to play against, yet as a cheap game you still can play against your friends via Xbox live, so Pool Nation has many things in its favour.
Gameplay is excellent with a really good physics engine and nice sharp graphics.
Background noise is a bit dull, yet if you turn off the soundtrack put on some of your own sounds then it’s just right.
There are no fancy cgi in the backgrounds of dancing couples etc, it’s just plain simple empty rooms, because that’s all this game needs as all the action takes place on the table.
As you beat each AI player in 8 and 9 Ball tournaments and complete all the tasks required, you unlock more games and challenges which are mainly for unlocking customised cues, ball sets and table logos.
Pool Nation is a brilliant game and for 800Microsoft points worth having on your console for when friends come round, or if you fancy honing your skills. I personally can`t stop playing this game at the moment and apart from being the best Pool simulator around its certainly one of the best Xbla games to come out this year.
Developers : Cherry Pop
Genre: Pool simulation/ sport
Release Date: 31st October 2012