Pure Pool (PC) – Review

“Hey it’s your cousin! Why don’t we go play pool?” – Pure Pool

Pool is a classic game, played in millions of basements and smokey (or formerly smokey) pool halls around the world. The game is simple to pick up and complicated to master.Tables and accessories can be prohibitively expensive to own in the real world, making the transition from real world “sport” to videogame quite natural. Games like Duke Nukem 3D and Grand Theft Auto have given people the option of playing pool within the game just to mess around, while other games such as Virtual Pool and now Pure Pool have attempted to allow the player to have a full virtual billiard experience.

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Pure Pool starts off simply revolving around a pool table giving you the option to knock the balls around all by yourself, no rules, no opponent, just you, the cue, the table, and the balls. Every time you start the game it begins in this mode, you must go into the menu to select a different mode to really “play” the game. Pure Pool contains different game modes, each with their own challenges and opponents to face off against. Career mode lets you play against CPU opponents in 8-ball and 9-ball competition.  You can also take on challenges such as Speed Pot which allows you to try to sink balls as fast as possible against a running clock. Checkpoint features a countdown timer to sink as many orbs in a limited time frame. Perfect Potter is achieved by sinking as many balls as possible without missing.  Finally there is the Royal Rumble, this mode asks you to clear the table of balls as quickly as possible, and new balls will be added onto the table at regular time periods. The game also features a tutorial to train you in the art and rules of virtual pool.

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Graphically  Pure Pool are sumptuous, and is sadly the most positive aspect of the game. You almost feel as if you can reach out and pick up the balls then use one to crush the hands of your enemies Goodfellas’ style. You almost want to bury your face in the felt because it looks so soft and comfortable. A few minor graphical glitches aside, we really cannot fault Pure Pool‘s aesthetics.

Audio is crisp and clear, and the game features a very nice jazzy soundtrack. The sound effects fit perfectly and seem to work very well with the right timing.

The menu system is unfriendly, and you cannot back up within the menu you must hit ESC and start over. Controls themselves can be just as unresponsive as the menu. When trying to apply spin or use fine aim it can take a few seconds or the game just won’t respond at all. Sometimes where simple mouse clicks would do the game makes you press a button instead.

The AI at best is bipolar, sometimes it will start the game off in a  terrible fashion, only to suddenly ramp up in intelligence and hand your ass to you.This wouldn’t be so bad if you knew that the game might have pool sharks, but this is the very first opponent you must face in your career who is supposedly an amateur.  Make no mistake Rhys Morgan could clean up at any pool hall in America.  Occasionally the AI will go off the rails and remain unresponsive, leaving you waiting for it to complete its shots.

Another very important component to the modern pool game is the ability to play online. When we first fired up Pure Pool the game was unable to connect to the server.  And it will keep trying to connect throughout play, more than happy to tell you every few seconds how it failed in a banner across the screen. It should also be noted that Pure Pool’s achievements are a bit strange. In most games you unlock achievements as you progress and it notifies you within the game.  In Pure Pool you do not know what you have unlocked until you exit the game completely and are back on steam.  Hopefully they can correct this in future updates.

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Pure Pool is a hard game to recommend. The graphics are beautifully realistic, and the music is fun. The AI can be unresponsive and its difficulty curve can leave you slumped in stunned silence.  Additionally, the server was erratic at best, you would expect a game with such heavy emphasis on multiplayer and stat keeping to be perfect when it comes to connection, but this is not the case. Only the most forgiving of pool enthusiasts need apply here.

Pure Pool is available now on Steam.