Time-tested and socially accepted as tons of fun (with or without alcohol) the games of pool, snooker and billiards are here to stay. It does not matter if you are playing these games at someone’s home or you are hanging out with your buds and the ladies at the local night spot — the fact that you know how to play pool (at least the U.S. 8-ball game) will add 100 coolness points to your character. Take this from someone who can vividly recall being called a “pool shark” back in the day — yes, I was that good.
OK, you have played the game on occasion, don’t own a pool table but would like to perfect your skills, and you happen to own a Nintendo Wii. You are in luck, my friend! I am about to let you know about the greatest pool game that I have come across since 1989, when I started playing something resembling pool on my first home computer — the legendary Commodore Amiga 500.
Pool Hall Pro is an in-depth fusion of all major international variations of the game of pool. More important, Pool Hall Pro comes as close to the real game of pool as you can possibly experience with a superb utilization of the Wii-mote — more details about that later. In Pool Hall Pro, the player can create a character or an avatar that will reflect and represent his or her achievements across various types of pool games. During the character creation process, a player can customize the look of his or her character by choosing from many aesthetic choices, such as hairstyles, facial details and clothes.
The customization does not stop there. You can also customize your own personal pool hall. In the words of the developers: As you win pool games and tournaments, one can then earn cash and “pimp out their crib.” In other words, as you progress through the game, you can purchase all sorts of items, such as various pool tables, furniture and decorations for your pool hall. The level of detail is insane. You can go and actually pick out the type of wood finish on the chosen pool table, furnish ceiling lights, add different pool table leg styles, and choose and indulge in general décor details to your heart’s content. All of the above-mentioned customization covers the following four areas of your “crib”: Décor, Furniture, Snooker, Pool.
The epicenter of the game is the actual pool simulation. Pool Hall Pro covers many games and game variations.
Once you have practiced enough to feel comfortable playing, you can access various types of single-player styled game modes. Exhibition Matches cover both single games and tournaments against computer-controlled players of various strengths (rookie, amateur, pro and champion). Exhibition tournaments can include between four and 32 players and take place in pool halls around the world. The next game type is the Arcade mode in which you play in specific events across the globe starting out in Brad’s Chicago Bar and can unlock additional events based on your success. In this particular game mode, you can win trophies as you score event victories. The final single-player game mode is the ultimate challenge known as the World Tour. The computer players in this setting are tough but not impossible to beat. It takes a lot of skill to win, but the victories are that much sweeter as you score major trophies and boost your World rank.
Aside from the single-player game modes Pool Hall Pro offers a rich multiplayer game mode. Please note that the multiplayer in this game is defined as a game between you and another player on your Wii. In other words, no network or Internet-based multiplayer is supported, which is a bit of disappointment in this day and age. All in all, the multiplayer is a lot of fun and is divided into two sections: one-on-one mode (versus match) and the tournament.
Pool Hall Pro is visually well-made considering the Wii hardware limitations when compared to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The sound effects are rich and in general offer excellent recordings from various pool halls. This fact adds significantly to the game’s immersion factor. The actual gameplay is done masterfully by fully utilizing the Wii-mote. There are in essence two modes in which a player can use the Wii-mote. The first mode, which is rather simple, involves using the B button on the Wii-mote to position the target crosshair on the cue ball thus defining the type of shot and then using the A button to input the strength by which the cue ball will be hit. The second mode, which is slightly challenging, involves the same procedure utilizing the B button but adds the requirement of moving the Wii-mote as if mimicking the motion of using the cue stick. Both modes are very intuitive to use and given enough room space, the second mode can be a lot of fun as it comes very close to resembling the way actual pool is played.
In conclusion, Pool Hall Pro deserves its pro designation as a high-quality simulation of pool, snooker and billiards that will guarantee a lot of fun. Pool Hall Pro retails for an attractive price of $19.99, and I highly recommend it to you, your friends and family.