Pure Pool is a new virtual pool simulator created by independent video game developer VooFoo Studios based in the UK, in which you take to the tables in a variety of enjoyable scenery with exciting challenges.
After many years of using the pool hall near my local college to avoid the pressure of assignments and exams, or even using online pool games to help through long breaks in-between classes, I can safely say that this game does an excellent job in keeping me engaged and bringing the same enjoyment I got out of playing.
When first starting up the game, you are introduced by a small cut scene which into the pool hall in which you will jump straight into “free table mode”, where you practice your shots and try out different techniques.
The game certain does not skip on the attention to detail as the atmosphere seems to have that pool hall vibe in which you are accustomed to. The reflections of the balls, the lighting effects, the individual threads of the table cloth are done exceptionally well with smooth transitions around the table between each shot. Even as you play there are people in the background who don’t get in the way and seem to blend perfectly into the scenery. The soundtrack is not huge, but is selected perfectly for this pool hall as you are playing, it really just adds to that already impressive interior.
You have a selection of different game modes at your disposal. You have the classic 8-ball and 9-ball, along with accumulator and killer pool. You can choose to practice and play though free mode, challenge the AI in a friendly shoot out, or you can undergo a demanding career mode; in which you will be tested from the get-go!
There are also Challenges in which you can higher place yourself within the rankings of the best players around the world.
Speed Pot – Pot a defined amount of balls [usual 8 ball amount] in the fastest possible time. (See if you can beat my 1 minute 20 seconds).
Checkpoint – Pot as many balls possible before the time runs out.
Perfect Runner – Pot as many consecutive balls as possible without missing.
Royal Rumble – Clear the table as quickly as possible. New balls will be added at regular interval.
The controls are fairly simple but can give you a bit of frustration with a keyboard and mouse. From navigating the menus to moving the mouse to line up a shot can become very troublesome with layout, sensitivity and lack of control customization. One thing I would recommend with this game, and I wouldn’t normally recommend for many, is to use a controller as most of these problems are ironed out when you switch to a game pad. However, you are still stuck with issues regarding sensitivity. It can take many pans to the left and right to correctly line up a shot without overshooting the line of sight.
The range of motion for the X axis can be a frustration due to the pressure sensitivity of the analogue sticks; this too can be seen when using a mouse. There is slow rotation with movement of the thumbstick, but move a millimeter out of a certain range and you fire off too far and have to line up the shot again. You do become a bit more accustomed to it after a while, but when you’re trying to line up that speedy shot to complete certain challenges or career games, it can become frustrating. I was surprised with the lack of a sensitivity adjustment tool within the menu. I suppose pool is not a game to be rushed, but having this option would be beneficial especially for heavy handed people like me.
Many Pool games normally have a bar present on the right or left hand side to show the scale of force applied to each shot to help guide you, but Pure Pool does not have this built in, nor does it allow you the option to apply the feature. There is no hand holding with Pure Pool,meaning this will require a bit more skill, which is a good thing in my opinion. Here you use your own initiative to determine the power of your shot. With the limited motion of the Y axis with the right thumb stick, it becomes more difficult to determine how much pressure you are actually applying though.
You start with an inverted movement of the X axis and you have the ability to change this to normal but it will only change the movement of the aim, if you are instructed to place a ball on the table,, you have the ability to move around, and this is inverted at all time. This does become a headache when you get into the rhythm of aiming and then asked to place the ball on the table due to a foul; I keep going off in the other direction because it is inverted.
Apart from a few issues about, which mostly you can get used to, I found it a joy to pick up a controller and play for hours at a time.
The menu is nicely incorporated into the main free mode when you start up the game. When you select a menu, you cannot move between them selectively. Instead backing out of each menu and seems a bit unnecessary instead of being able to use the left key or d-pad to go back, instead you have to use the backspace or “B” button each time Also having an exit to windows option mapped to the “S” on keyboard or “Y” on controller, although this is marked in the bottom right of the screen.
You have a few selections at the main menu:
My Games – were you start your own game.
Players – Current online players.
Career – If you wish to start or continue an 8-Ball or 9-Ball career.
Rankings – For checking yours and other player’s current world rankings
Challenges – Listed above in Game Modes.
Extras – For connecting to the Steam Store for extra content you wish to add.
Help – For general help with playing Pure Pool, more info below:
In the Help sub-menu you will find a roundup of all the rules for each game, the general rules, and there is also a great Hints & Tips section; which will give you game information and gives help with become more of a strategic player.
Computer AI/Online Multiplayer
Unfortunately during my time playing I was hit with a few too many “There was an error connecting to the Pure Pool ServerTM. Please try again later” messages when trying to compete online.
This means I wasn’t able to play online too much. However, this game has something it likes to call “Player DNA” which learns the way you play and how you play. This collected data is then used to create a “DNA player” who plays very similar to you. So if anytime you want to play someone online, but they are not there or you are having issues connecting, you will be competing against the DNA player version of who you wish to play, and works the other way around.
When choosing the Career the Computer doesn’t start easy and can be very difficult, with huge increments with each tournament. If you don’t know how to play very well you will find it very competitive.
When the black ball is next up, the table is given a slow heart beat and dimmed down lights, further adding to the tension. A slow motion effect plays when the shot is taken, even if you are close to potting the black…..although after a while, it can become a little annoying due to the excitement taken away from the end result as your shown a slow motion strike of the cue ball which gives away the game win, so you already know if it will be potted or not. Good news though, this feature can be turned off in the option. It’s god for me, it sometimes can ruin the tension.
The computer also pauses…a lot. It will move very quickly and almost always move left then right, then about 80% of the time, the computer will freeze in the position in which it will take the shot and then carry on after several seconds. I don’t know if this is one of the bugs they need to iron out or implemented for suspense, I do know that it does become quite frustrating after a while.
You are quite limited in extra customization, as you are only represented by a cue stick and a ball. You can change the table cloth to a variant of different styles and when leveling up you receive different cue’s you can change to. I do not how these are actually incorporated into the game, but I think they are more of a visual aspect to the game. Images of customization features below:
Table Baize Colour
Table Skin Design
I can safely say that Pure Pool will hook you in with its charm, atmosphere and visuals then have you stuck to the screen with its immerse pool gameplay.
Pure Pool is a superbly designed game with just a few bugs, which may cause a bit of issues to begin with, but a few plays around in the menu and you can have a much better experience.
This is a game with no hand holding and surely gives you a very challenging experience. I would highly recommend picking this up. Pure Pool was released July, 2014 and in currently available for PC/Steam and PS4 for £7.99 and is a steal at the price!