Developers: VooFoo Studios
Publishers: Ripstone Games
Platform: PC (via Steam); PS4(reviewed) (via PSN); XBoxOne (via XBL)
Price: £7.99 / €9.99 / $12.99
Brought to PC & PS4 by the developers of Hustle Kings VooFoo certain have previous form when it comes to making an accurate digital representation or everyone’s favourite pub based past time. With Pure Pool they’ve made a bold move by focusing on being entirely first person. Meaning no longer can you cheat by playing from a top down view (a la Team 17 Pool), or play from a view other that a natural human play position. This may sound like it would make the game unnaturally difficult, but they have allowed for some interesting options, you can use the DualShock4’s Touchpad to look around the table or press Square to walk around the table, as you would in real life.
On the easier difficulty levels you have the virtual aim line, which always make the think of that Quantum Leap episode with Sam Beckett as a pool player. This is limited in comparison to other pool games as is only visible for close shots and produces a second different coloured line to indicate the path of the struck ball. These are essential when trying to line your shots up or snooker you opponents, especially helpful when setting up screw and spin shots, and there’s the ability to fine tune your aim too. Controls are perfectly simple left stick is used to control power of the shot by pulling back and pushing forward.
As you would expect from a game called Pure Pool most of the popular styles are represented ie 8 Ball & 9 Ball, the later being my game of choice due to how quickly it can be played. This is perfectly shown by after failing to win my first game of 8 Ball I managed to pot the 9 ball from the break and scored a quadruple Trophy ding.
It could have been easy for them to have simply kept the career mode as being simply split between these two game types but thankfully they haven’t. There are varying levels of difficulty to career mode and require specific objectives are cleared to open up the next match. These can be Snooker an opponent, clear a specific number of balls or type of pots, opening up other game modes that I wasn’t expecting such as Killer, Speed Potter, Check Point. These add a deeper variety to the single player game and aid in becoming skilled as you play by making you think differently about potting possibilities.
There’s an online Multiplayer mode which feels like playing pool with a friend especially due to barracking and chatting whilst playing, via Party Chat on PS4. Online was problematic to get working prior to the release of the recent patch but more on that later. The major innovation comes from VooFoo’s DNA, which allows you to download an AI version of other people’s play styles to play them as if they were online. The first person I tried was Matt from CodecMoments.com and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been impressed by me winning from the break in our first game of 9 ball, as for the remaining games he kept it close. There’s also a couch co-op which works exactly as you would expect.
The visuals of Pure Poor are as near to photo realistic as I ever seen, the shine of the ball, the fabric of the baise, the smoothness and realised physics is super absorbing. Also little touches such as the out of focus animations of the rest of the pool hall and ambient chit chat. There’s a rather good soundtrack by Etch which ranges from Jazzy to Muzak, never intrusive but lovely background. I would love the ability to have custom soundtracks but as PS4 doesn’t have the ability (yet), I can’t penalise the game for that.
So it looks good, sounds nice and feels like real pool but sadly it isn’t without it’s issues:
the opponents can at times take an eternity to take a shot, sometimes causing the game to lock up, black ball isn’t re-spotted from a foul break, there’s no markers on the table to aid in shot positioning, constant notifications of everyone (not just friends) coming on online, online simply won’t connect to friends, no UK 8-Ball, trophies not popping as they should.
When I was originally writing this review I was unwilling to post it as I was aware a patch was going to be released to fix the numerous bugs and gripes that myself and others had been experiencing. Thankfully verision 1.1 of Pure Pool fixed my gripes with the game, sadly UK 8-Ball is called Black Ball and not included in the game modes but nice to see it in there. My issues with connecting with friends for matches have been resolved and the irritating notification can now be switched off, the AI is also quicker at taking shots.
As a simulator hats off to VooFoo they really have made a great Pool game, here’s hoping they add Pure Snooker to the mix in the near future. Sadly I don’t feel I can give this game full marks due to the fact that the game felt as if it had been released too early and simply didn’t work online until the first patch was released. That didn’t stop me playing and enjoying Pure Pool lots but with inconsistent AI it can be exceptionally challenging, that said the DNA system for playing against friends who are offline is fantastic. I should also give a massive honourable mention to Remote-Play via PSVita, which works perfectly with this game, and helped we work on gaining the challenging Platinum trophy which this game features. Great value for money with plenty of reasons to keep playing either solo or with friends.
Review copy & screenshots supplied by publishers