Review: Pure Pool (PS4)
Pool bars can be lots of fun with their great atmosphere and of course, the rows of pool tables you can take your pick from. However, sometimes they can attract the kind of crowds that would have you considering some kind of stab insurance, and stab insurance is by no means cheap. Do you know what is cheap though (we’re talking money terms)? Pure Pool, also it’s a lot more fun than getting stabbed. It was developed by VooFoo Studios who are no strangers to pool games having developed the successful Hustle Kings. The game was developed with the power of the PS4 in mind, and VooFoo have harnessed it well to give us the best-looking pool game ever made.
Pure Pool is much more than a few quick games of 8 ball. It’s a simulation of the sport. The photorealistic visuals and perfect physics are the stars of the show. The cue balls look good enough to pick up and sneak into a pocket when your friends aren’t looking. The table is crisp with felt and grains of wood all looking true to life. It all runs at 1080p at 60FPS but the real joy in Pure Pool comes from the ball physics. When aligning a shot you will see a visual aid that will show you which direction the balls might go after you hit them. This certainly helps to get your eye in but once you get a feel for the controls you can rely on your pure pool instinct (sorry). Any shot you have played in real life you can pull off in Pure Pool and you can expect the same result.
I tried to push the boundaries a bit by playing a jump shot, that I used to pull out as a party trick, and to my surprise I was able to lift the cue ball just like I used to back in my college days. You control the speed of your pool cue via the left analogue stick. Initially it will take some getting used to as it’s easy to over strike the ball with too much power, but once you get the hang of it the controls feel very solid. All the action takes place in a very lively bar that is blurred out in the background with a depth of field effect. The developers most likely wanted to pump the detail of the pool table up which they succeeded in doing, except they forgot to take out the one annoying women that keeps laughing like a Hyena in the background.
Ambient noise distractions aside there is a decent career mode to try out in Pure Pool that has you choosing between 8 or 9 balls variations of the game. You can ramp up the difficulty if you feel up to it, but the AI is very unforgiving and hardly misses a shot. Each victory secures you a few stars that are used to unlock new matches and tournaments. You can also just practice in a free table mode that acts as a training ground for you to hone your skills. There are even a few mini games like the Royal Rumble mode that has you race against the clock to try empty the table by sinking shots as quick as you can. You can also jump online to take on some other virtual hustlers if the AI is getting a bit stale for you.
There are some problems with the online component however. Firstly, every time someone jumps online to play their name flashes in the top left corner. This happens constantly as it takes into account players all over the world, so you will see a barrage of players names flash at the top of the screen every second which is extremely distracting. It does have some unique features online however such as the DNA system. Like the infamous drivatars in Forza 5 on Xbox One, it will let you play against an AI version of your buddy when he or she is not online, as it picks up on their positive and negative playing styles.
There are some nice little touches added too, such as a slow motion zoomed in camera for when you hit the winning shot, and there are no bulky HUD’s to distract you from the table. For the low asking price of around R100 you certainly get a lot of content, and if you enjoy playing pool it is one of the best recreations of the sport I have ever seen. The best part is you can play it from the comfort of your couch, and you don’t have to worry about bar fights or running out of R5 coins.