Pool. Possibly the only subject I can’t write a scathing or particularly shining opening paragraph for. As a slightly deranged completionist, there is something compelling about cleaning a table through thwacking objects with sticks, especially when placed under a competitive spotlight. Perhaps this system of table clearing can be utilised for domestic chores…
…as dull as I’ve made the sport sound, Pool Nation has actually done a damn good job of even getting me to bother stretching past the hour mark of gameplay. Offering up standard pool tournaments with suave aesthetics, the whole game has a laid back causality that tempts you into one more game several times over.
Pool Nation consists of tournaments in both 8 ball and 9 ball formats, each filled to the brim with opponents to defeat and challenges to complete. Every stage of these casual competitions comes with its own requirements that go beyond simply winning the match, but doing so under certain criteria snags the opportunity for extra matches and more. Deter away from the main reward fetching modes and face up against a human opponent and a plethora of game styles open up, ranging from sudden death matches to matches with golf themed rules. Everywhere you turn in Pool Nation, there’s another satisfying way to clean tables.
The true star of Pool Nation however is Endurance mode, doubly so for those wishing for a reboot of Big Break without Jim Davidson in tow. Endurance puts you up against a collection of balls that increase in quantity as time goes by. When 24 balls are plonked onto the table, you’re deemed a failure. Potentially built as an elite program to test nuclear-fusion pool players, precision and skill must be scaled down to split second decision making to rid the table of spherical litter. It’s a great variant, and if it was coated in as many rewards as the main tournaments have it could easily be running the entire game.
As a complete newcomer to a sport that’s easy to participate in down any pub, a copious amount of tutorials eased me into performing various skill shots and making me feel like I actually knew what I was doing, especially when balls actually ended up in pockets. Mastering physics is the name of the game, but you’re given several shot options to dice with, varying from the smooth to the wonderfully fluke fuelled. Should you learn to master the ways of the cue, a comprehensive replay system not only reinforces your fears of Big Brother, but also allows you to cycle through numerous in-game shots to capture the most insanely skillful/lucky shots.
It’s already established that this is as pool as pool gets, but it looks fresh and pleasing enough to hold your attention be you experienced or new to the game, far prettier than any pool tables in your average pub. Glossy visuals, vibrant colours and shiny balls offer up a prettier picture than any table backed off in the corner of even the brightest pubs. The surroundings invoke all sorts of buzzwords like ‘Hip’ and ‘Trendy’ that a douche of my calibre should never use, but will because they encapsulate them pretty perfectly. The whole game has this fresh look in every corner and every menu you root around. Surrounded by a cast of opponents who you’d probably gladly punch in the face if you encountered their smugness on the street, but the game gladly spoofs the supposed hi-life of the sport, never once taking itself too seriously.
I don’t know of anyone who’s said they’re looking for a really good pool game in the past decade, but if you’re that special someone I haven’t met, you certainly can’t go wrong with Pool Nation. For the same price, you can get eight games of pool down the local or be a twenty fifth of the way to owning a table of your own, and neither of those seem like economical or good looking variations. Free pool games gracing Facebook and tablet devices may brag a, but don’t match the vibrancy or the sheer joy Pool Nation can bring, mainly through the adrenaline pumping Endurance mode alone.
But again, take what I say with a pinch of salt. I thought I kept getting scratch fouls because I somehow found a way to scrape the table with my cue…