One glance at the front cover of the jewel case for Eidos Interactive’s latest "Pocket Pool" game featuring a hot babe bent over a pool table with some serious cleavage exposed and you know that nothing short of naughty is going to come from a title like this. I find the moral side of my self tearing at me saying, "It’s just not right J-man. It’s just not right." But then, suddenly, the other all-male, all testosterone, slightly care-free part of me takes over, calmly puts my mind at ease, and whispers to my sub-conscience, "The show must go on."
Pocket Pool is developer Hyper-Dev’s latest rendition of a pool game simulator, but, interestingly enough, the last thing on your mind will be sinking the eight-ball to go on for the win. The game is tagged with a "Mature" rating and rightfully so. That’s primarily because it features a slew of un-lockable supermodel picture galleries, sexy videos, and some other surprises. All of these rewardingly locked features become unlocked as you hustle your way around the globe facing off against some serious pool pros in a variety of locales such as the local honky-tonk, dive bars, mansions, and even yachts. The problem is that while the concept of winning pool matches to unlock hot babes and sexy video is a tempting proposition within itself, the latter part of the idea is poorly executed.
The game features over 13 different types of pool including "8 ball," "9 ball," "15 Ball," "Straight Pool," "Rotation Pool," "Blackjack," "Killer," full and short versions of "Snooker" and of course "Classic 8 ball" which is your standard pool type.
Some of the game types prove pretty fun including Blackjack where the ball value is reflective of the number on the ball and in order to be the winner you must pocket 21 points exact. Anything over resets the score to 0. Then there’s 9-ball where the nine lower numbered balls are placed in a diamond and must be hit off the table in sequential order. The player that knocks the nine-ball in last wins.
In Rotation Pool 15 balls are racked in a diamond shape and the one, two, and three balls are placed at the corners. Players have to again knock off all the balls in sequential order but, unlike 9-ball, the winner is not the player who hits the last ball in but the player who has the most points after all the balls have been pocketed.
Snooker is a little more tricky match type. Here the table is filled with 15 red balls and six colored balls. Players must first knock off a red ball and then follow it with a colored ball. Once all the red balls are knocked off the table then the remaining colored balls have to be hit off from lowest to highest in order of point value. Players receive four bonus points when their opponent fouls. The winner with the most points at the end wins.
The other match types are fairly interesting as well but play pretty similar to the match types just described with a few extra quirks thrown in.
The real problem with Pocket Pool is the unrealistic and much too often frustrating physics of the game. The balls at times seem to have minds of their own as they bounce off one another and off the bumper wall at angles that are completely unrealistic. Bank shots are not always guaranteed even if you have everything lined up perfectly. The ball will sometimes bounce off the wall at a sharper angle rather than the anticipated degree angle you were looking for and the same unreal physics come into play when trying to use another ball to hit a target ball into the pocket.
To help add insult to injury the computer will many times seemingly toy with you in the beginning of a match letting you get up a few balls and then go on a serious knock-off streak quickly matching your small lead and leaving you in the dust for the win. All the while you’re forced to painfully witness every time-consuming and ego-numbing shot on the table rather than having the option to speed up things by auto-simulating the computers entire turn.
Not to mention it’s a real drag when the computer generates a random opponent who turns out to be a dorky dude rather than that hot babe you were so looking forward to unlock. It’s only a matter of time before the fun value begins to take a side pocket and the teasingly tempting idea of unlocking a new video or babe in the picture gallery becomes a thing of the past.
While the physics of the game do put you at a slight disadvantage, it is still possible with a lot of patience, practice, and time to slowly but surely begin unlocking the highly sought after un-lockable features of the game. Besides hot chicks, players can also unlock customized ball sets, pool sticks, tables and other environmental scenery to help spruce things up a bit.
Once you do manage to start unlocking a few model videos and picture galleries, it’s possible you might find yourself a bit disappointed at some of the viewing material as some of the girls are arguably second-rate in appearance and there isn’t as much exposure as the game seemingly leads you to believe.
To make matters worse, outside of poor physics and frequently frustrating game play are a further list of complaints including excessive load times between screens, a pretty weak sound engine littered with a lot of repetitive voice-overs and lukewarm music tracks, as well as a multiplayer mode leaving very little to talk about outside your usual run of the mill stakes.
To sum it all up this game is all babes and no physics. While its graphical presentation is respectable overall, such a weak show in critical areas such as sound and game play really take away from the fun and replay value. The girls are hot but honestly not "all that" and outside of a plethora of slightly disappointing teaser pics and video there’s really only a handful of actual un-lockable game play elements.
Pocket Pool is definitely one of those games that should not be judged by what’s on the cover as it barely racks up a less than stellar 3 GiN gems.