Often times the greatest pool halls are the little, unknown places that only you and a few of your friends know anything about. Perhaps your “spot” is in a smokey pub where the drinks flow, and greasy food stains the pool cues. Others contend that the best places to play are in the dark basements with a few old pieces of furniture to lounge around in-between shots.
No matter where you play, its about friends, skill, and fun. Can Pool Hall Pro recreate this magic?
Icon Games are a somewhat unknown developer, but they have obviously spent a lot of time working on learning the Wii Remote inside and out, and with Pool Hall Pro, it shows. One of the biggest complaints gamers have with games simulating the classic game of pool is that it isn’t accurate, or is missing a sense of realism. The control scheme found on the Nintendo Wii has given this genre a chance, and it succeeds brilliantly with Pool Hall Pro.
You’re going to find yourself with two options as you begin: standard and advanced. With both sets of control, you use the d-pad to change your view of the board, the “A” button to set the angle of the cue’s elevation, and the pointer to select a place on the ball to hit.
The “1″ button easily changes on the fly between a first-person view and an overhead view. In the advanced setup, you hold down the “B” button and move the Wii-mote like you would a real cue to hit the ball. In the basic setup, the most noticeable difference is that a power meter comes up when you draw the cue back, and you hit the ball by releasing the B button rather than thrusting the Wii-mote forward. Neither set up requires any sort of odd motion control, and for an amateur pool player like me, it felt natural.
The sounds effects are spot on, and give you a great feeling of realism. The cheesy rock ‘n’ roll music gives you the perfect combination of annoying pool hall music, and a great soundtrack to keep you moving through each of the games.
Pool Hall Pro accentuates its style with the interesting table locales and sleek design of the balls. Both are highly detailed, and well depicted throughout each of the exotic locations the game gives you. The opponent A.I. is also handled fairly well. The AI’s skill setting is adjustable, and you can always provide yourself with a challenge, or just a simple bot to play against. The “rookie” A.I. is great for a beginner, whereas the advanced A.I. will give even the seasoned pool player a serious run for their money. Every once in awhile, the AI will end up pulling off some sort of impossible shot, but in all honesty there is some human professionals that can do some amazing, improbable shots.
Up until you actually take a shot, the presentation seems almost flawless. The beautifully depicted tables and well balanced A.I. really make this game seem more like a true simulator than shovelware. Sadly, the buck stops there. Once you hit the ball, the camera can go absolutely nuts! It jerks and jumps around trying to follow the quick-paced action, causing you to sometimes lose track of the ball. It’s unfortunate that due to the unpredictable nature of the camera, you won’t be able to enjoy the game’s visuals, but it’s not so much of an issue that it makes the game unplayable.
The Wii really hasn’t seen a true comprehensive pool game until now: the wait is finally over! Wii Play’s billiards mini-game left a lot of people wanting a whole lot more, and Pool Hall Pro provides in a spectacular way. There are a vast amount of gameplay types, including:UK 8 Ball, US 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 6 Ball Pool, 10 Ball Pool, 15 ball Pool, Pub Pool, 6 Ball Snooker, 10 Ball Snooker, Snooker and Basic Pocket Billiards. This is going to keep you busy for quite awhile, and it’s admirable that Icon Games included so many modes in the game instead of “just the basics”.
As you win each game and pull off “cool” moves, you will earn cash that you can put towards pimping out your crib. You also better be ready to “bling out” your fully customizable avatar that has enough features to fairly represent what you might really look like.
All-in-all, the many game modes including Arcade, Tournament, Multiplayer, Exhibition, World Tour and Practice give Pool Hall Pro a lot of bang for your buck. The title retails at an MSRP of $29.99, and is the best pool experience on any of the current generation consoles. Get ready to spend a lot of time playing pool; you wont regret it.
The camera angles get a bit jerky, which is very jarring, and while the visuals are decent, they're not pushing any barriers.
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So far, no one has done pool better on the Wii. Pool Hall Pro controls excellently, and adds a lot of different modes to boot.
The sound effects, and rock 'n' roll soundtrack complete the experience, even if the tunes feel a bit generic.
The only thing keeping it from a perfect score is the lack of online multiplayer.
The value of this title is outstanding. If you like pool, and own a Wii, this is a must have.