Virtual Pool 64
Someone once said being good at pool was a sign of a misspent childhood. Arse!
Pool and snooker games in general have always posed the question 'why?' The real life involvement is hardly there and the smell of working men's clubs has to accompany a game for that authentic beer 'n' fags atmosphere. Virtual Pool 64 offers a fresh perspective on the age-old cloth-ripping, sop-guzzling game that is pool and it does it a decent amount of justice. You need never be a passive smoker again!
Virtual Pool 64 has got over the first hurdle of the control system in a way that would have Sally Gunnell tripping over her shoelaces. Unlike other pool and snooker games that require a degree in mathematics to get your head around, the VP64 controls are as simple as... well, picking up a pool cue.
Everything is based around the analogue stick. Press any other button in conjunction with the analogue stick and a command is executed. This also makes the use of a power gauge to judge the strength of your shots, redundant. We were worried about the absence of a gauge, but once you feel the true power of a shot come directly from the tip of your finger you gaze in awe at its genius. Every move can been made when playing and you can even buzz around the table watching your opponent from between their legs if you really want. We did. So, with complete freedom of movement around the table and complete control over every delicate cue action you make... how did it play?
It's Only A Game, Mate!
Very well, actually! The ball dynamics are tremendously accurate, gliding effortlessly across the cloth and hopefully plonking into a pocket. The in-game physics have really been worked on to such a rate that you could be convinced that you are watching an early animation from Pixar.
VP64 also packs in enough options to keep Big Break on air for another ten years. (Arghh!) There are dozens, if not a hundred or more, trick shots that can be performed. Each one will help you become a better player, so you can take on one of the hundreds of CPU opponents. To add another pile of longevity to an already swelling choice, you can tackle any character in any form of pool, with a plethora of rules for your delectation. Whopper? You got it!
Yes, there's more. If you're so good you consider yourself a pool shark, or you're so bad you wonder where the shallow end is, you can adjust almost every setting to suit your own needs; the cloth speed, pocket size, cues, table markings, and so many more that they'd probably fill the entire page. Everything you could possibly wish for in a pool game is at the touch of your fingertips.
It is a far cry from picking up a real cue, chalking its tip and knocking back a few 'fizzy-pops' with friends down the local, and for any pool game to do that would be nigh on impossible. VP64 does its damnedest to translate the game to the comforts of your own home though, and it succeeds. In fact, not only does it succeed in bringing a pool table on to the humble home television, it does it with bells on. A triumph!
2nd rating opinion
Until recently, as far as I knew there were only two types of pool - traditional British pool and easy American pool (well... they simplify everything). However, Virtual Pool 64 has enlightened me - and it's bloody brilliant! A must-have post-pub game!