Pure Pool Review
From the guys who brought you Pure Chess and Hustle Kings comes Pure Pool, a game that aims to deliver the most fun and authentic pool experience you can get on any platform. The tricky part is, to make a fun pool game that is serious, but is easily accessible for anyone who has ever laid hands on a cue. Pure Pool succeeds and while it is brought down by some issues it can still remain fun for the most part.
Shiny balls everywhere ...
The first thing anyone would notice upon starting the game for the first time is how amazing it looks. The balls are as shiny as they have been just out of the box, and this is the first game of pool they have ever saw. You can almost feel the fabric of the baize as you virtually lean on the table to take a shot. In the background of the lounge people are getting drinks, conversing and walking around. The whole setting is perfect for a game of pool. Maybe the only thing I would have loved to see, is to be able to choose between different backgrounds, like pub/bar/venue.
Let's pot some balls, shall we?
So the setting is almost perfect, but would it really mean anything with jerky physics, horrible controls and a generally unenjoyable feel? Luckily Pure Pool captures the flow of the sport so nicely it almost makes you forget that you are at home and not in the bar playing pool with your friends. The physics are almost spot on, I haven't really encountered anything that shouldn't have happened. All this accompanied by the satisfying sound of pool balls hitting each other. You can always count on the game to make the play you want. Even if it includes chaining multiple balls together to pot the last one, the physics won't let you down as long as you hit them at the right place. The gameplay is very smooth and fun while it can maintain the authenticity of real life pool.
It is probably most fun to play it online since the perfection of the AI is sometimes very boring. In addition to multiplayer there is also a feature called player DNA. The game monitors every player when they are in the game, and builds an AI for them that supposedly plays pool like them. It is an interesting idea, and I have grabbed some player DNAs to test it out. I am not sure how similar it was compared to the real players, but I have noticed that it is more fun to play against the DNAs then the preset AIs as they can do more unexpected things, that the AI would never do. The gameplay itself is really fun, however a game is not just about the gameplay even though that is the most important. Pure Pool fails to get on par with the actual feel of the game on every other part of it.
The controls does not feel nearly as fluid as gameplay when using a mouse and keyboard. It works perfectly with the 360 controller, but when you are developing for PC you just can't let people down who do not have controllers. A pool game is especially something I think could benefit from the smooth controls a mouse can deliver vs the analog sticks of a controller. I wouldn't say that it is terrible with the mouse, but it does take some getting used to.
The menu system is also a mess. It is a pain in the back to navigate it without a controller. It's clear that it was designed with the PS4 in mind. Even though it has full mouse support, it feels like it has maybe 'half' mouse support only. Simple things like right clicking to go back a menu are missing completely, and you instead have to press backspace (really?! who the hell uses backspace in key bindings anymore?) to get back a menu level.
Sadly there are some more serious issues with the game, that will only be fixed with the first patch. First of all the servers are sometimes not working at all. Maybe I can get 3 or 4 games going in a row while the next time servers just fail to connect me on start up. This issue can be related to an unexpected popularity of the game from the dev side of things, but is an issue that can be fixed with a patch easily. The more serious problem is crashes. For some people the game crashes constantly. From what I have read it is probably related to laptops with switchable GPU. If you have a laptop like that I would say, stay away from the game until the it is patched properly.
Pure Pool is probably the best pool game I have played on PC and it looks and feels absolutely amazing. However with the issues that are currently present I can not just warm heartedly recommend it to everyone. If I were honest I would advise to wait that first patch that is on its way. Once the issues are fixed, there are only minor complaints about the game, and none of them is actually related to gameplay. At the end of the day it is a very competent and fun pool experience that almost anyone can enjoy, even if they are not into the sport that much.
Pure Pool is now out on Steam. You can check it out here if you are interested.