Ever since Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker – for the younger generation, Jimmy White was a bit like Ronnie o’Sullivan just a bit more crap – on the Commodore Amiga I have been hooked on snooker and pool based games from Snooker World Championship to Hustle Kings and pretty much everything inbetween.
For some reason, put a controller in my hand and I could calculate power, spin and accuracy with little to no problems resulting in me waltzing around the table amassing big break after big break. This ability strangely leaves me whenever I stepped foot in my local pub or snooker hall, with my videogame grace turning into something similar to the lovechild of Big Foot and Taz getting a stick and whacking some balls around (notice I never mentioned the word table, this is because occasionally the balls would take leave of my table resulting in a dash across said bar or snooker hall to retrieve them).
Pure Pool is the first next gen entry for the spherical orientated pastime and what a first entry it is. First off let’s state a pretty big fact. Pure Pool is part of the ID@Xbox programme. The programme that was heavily promoted to aid upcoming independent studios and as such the price point is lower than a normal arcade title. In this case, eight of your British pounds with room for change. To put it simply, Pure Pool not only makes you sit up and take notice but it also sets the bar high for any future titles.
The first thing you notice when you play through the short tutorial is that there is no top down view of the table like all other snooker titles you may have played. This is mainly because, like in real life, you can’t look directly down onto the table – unless of course you are MunkiMatt and you are dancing on the table seductively but that’s a different story.
VooFoo has aimed for one thing with Pure Pool – realism. How can they get the title to act and feel as realistic as possible whilst maintaining the fact that you are using analog sticks and not cue sticks. There is a small amount of guide assistance for those that want or require it but the game allows you to get up, walk around the table, adjust the position of your cue, view the green blaize from multiple angles and even have direct control over your power with your right analog stick.
The one surprising aspect that VooFoo has squeezed into Pure Pool is DNA. Pure Pool will learn how you hit the ball, whether you prefer going for the long pot or taking the safer shot as well as a host of other aspects, it does this so your virtual player can continue playing against your friends even when you are killing people with car doors in GTA V (just ask MunkiMatt to see the video for the gangs 3 v 3 shenanigans).
The most accurate comparison here is Forza’s Drivertar. In fact Forza is the only other game I can think of this generation that has included a form of learning avatar for others to play against. Call of Duty didn’t, neither did Destiny, GTA V? Nope. FIFA? No way. Now scan back to the first paragraph of this review – This is an ID@Xbox game not a Triple A summer blockbuster – amazing.
After you complete the tutorial, you can choose one of many free play options but the area I spent most of my time, as I do with these sort of games, was Career Mode. This is where you work your way up from amateur pub table player all the way up to Master Ball Whacker by completing both eight (reds and yellows) and nine (spots and stripes) ball games and tournaments. There are also a number of challenges to complete along the way. These can range from potting so many balls in a row or, the more difficult, pot X number of balls before time expires. Most games also have an additional (and optional) three in match challenges such as “win the match without committing a foul”, “finish the game with the opponent having three balls left” or the simple “win the match”.
Another game mode sees you taking on both live and the previously mentioned DNA opponents. At the beginning of every match you have the option to download the DNA of your opponent. Perfect when coupled with the fact that Pure Pool allows you to set up your own pool league. I can see this taking off among us here at Midlife Gamer with limited time as you don’t actually have to be online to take part in the league as your DNA will play as you would if you were there.
I imagine that people will disagree with me heavily here in that the game is not graphically intense and is not pushing your lovely black box that you purchased in the last year but simply put Pure Pool looks amazing. This fact is backed up when you sink your final shot and the game goes into a cinematic mode. Voofoo has succeeded in putting in extra effort to ensure that the atmosphere is as enriched as possible ranging from the crowd chattering in the background and clapping amazing shots. They have also included the smoothest jazz this side of the nineties – Niiice.
Pure Pool is simply one of the best games I have played this year, not only as just a time out from the bigger releases recently but as a standalone title. Once you pick it up you will be hooked and it simply has to be in your collection somewhere so stop reading this review and go and download it. After all it’s only the score left to read and no one takes notice of that nowadays anyway.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Format: Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC Release Date: 29/07/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Pure Pol by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.