Virtual Pool

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platforms: PC Playstation
Genre: Board Games
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 6.0/10 - 2 votes
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Virtual Pool
Virtual Pool
Virtual Pool
Virtual Pool

Interplay effectively brings the pool hall to your PlayStation with Virtual Pool. You can play solo or challenge a friend to 8-Ball, 9-Ball, Straight, and Rotation. A thorough options menu customizes everything from camera angles, stick handling, and shooting the cue ball.

Impressive BD graphics create a real-time, 360-degree environment that lets you move around and view the table from any angle. The controls are exact and enable you to plan each shot using actual pool-table physics. Mixed tunes and good background sound effects complete the experience. Detailed instructions and a clear interface also make this pool game accessible to all skill levels.

ProTips:

  • Always keep in mind how your shot affects the 8-ball.
  • Apply English by hitting the cue ball off-center and to the left for a left spin (or vice versa). This can also decrease ball speed.

Game Reviews

Overview

Virtual Pool is the definitive pool simulation game -- from teaching novice players the rudiments of the game to improving the skills of the seasoned pool shark. Interplay worked with a team of physicists and professional pool players to bring Virtual Pool to life and provide the highest degree of accuracy. Balls roll, skid, collide and move on a beautifully rendered pool table that mirrors reality.

Players can "walk" around the table to check out their next shot, take a close-up look, zoom out for the overall picture and line up the shot as they would in a real game with a real table. Virtual Pool also allows players to view the shot from overhead, something unavailable in a real pool game.

World Champion pool player "Machine Gun" Lou Butera is available to teach new players the tricks of the game. In addition to the library of lessons, there are over 30 video clips that show famous trick shots the player can practice. This top-notch pool simulation is so good that Interplay guarantees it will improve your actual pool game -- or your money back.

Gameplay

I've always enjoyed the game of pool, the feel of a good break, the clunk of the ball dropping into the pocket, and the anguish of the cue ball following along for yet another scratch. My biggest problem with pool is that I don't have room for a table at home, so I never get much practice. Virtual Pool takes a full-size pool table and packs it into your computer, providing an extremely accurate simulation of the real game. In addition, Virtual Pool is an amazing tutorial in the finer points of the game for the novice player.

Virtual Pool starts in practice mode -- you're lined up for a simple break shot and ready to go. Starting play is simple, almost as easy as the first time I tried the real game. But the simple interface contains a lot of power. You can move around the table and view it from any angle, even views you can't get in a real game of pool, making it easy to plot your shot. You also have full control of the cue. You can raise or lower it, add some english to the cue ball, control the speed of your shot, and more. You can try any shot you want, and if it goes awry it's simple to reset the table position and do it again.

If you're like me, you probably have no idea what changing the english, spin or angle of the cue shot will actually do. Virtual Pool makes it easy to learn the secrets that can turn you into a pool shark. A selection of video lessons with "Machine Gun" Lou Butera, combined with a tutorial in the manual, teach the basic shots all good pool players should have at their command. In addition to these lessons, there are video clips of Lou making some spectacular trick shots. Watching this master pull off shots that appear to defy the laws of physics is fascinating, and you can set up the trick shots Lou demonstrates and practice them yourself. After practicing some of the trick shots in Virtual Pool, I was amazed to find I could duplicate them on a real table. If this still doesn't get you to the point where you can line up spectacular shots, Virtual Pool includes a tracking mode. Turn it on and the projected paths of all the balls will be displayed. Changing any parameter of the shot immediately updates the projection, making it easy to learn to shoot like a pro.

Once you're through practicing, you can start an actual game of eight-ball, nine-ball, straight pool or rotation -- each game is played according to professional rules. If you don't know how to play, Virtual Pool includes detailed on-line rulebooks for each game. You can select one of nine computer players, play against another person on the same machine, or hook up with a remote player. This new version, like the original DOS version, supports modem, direct serial link and IPX network connections. However, the Windows 95 version also includes support for head-to-head play over the Internet. Now you can play anyone, anywhere in the world -- an addition that makes the upgrade well worth it to owners of the DOS version.

Overall, Virtual Pool for Windows 95 is almost identical to Virtual Pool for DOS. The graphics and gameplay are essentially the same; the game physics have been slightly improved in the new version, but it's not very noticeable. Aside from Internet play, the biggest improvement is in the ease of installation -- on many systems it was difficult, if not impossible, to get the higher-resolution display modes working under the DOS version. DirectX support in the Windows 95 version has made configuration a breeze.

Graphics

The graphics in the Windows 95 version of Virtual Pool are identical to those in the DOS release; you get the same quality 3D rendering of the table. The cue and balls move smoothly -- you even see the spin on each ball. Some texture smoothing could improve the look of the game, but overall the graphics are fantastic.

Audio

The sound in Virtual Pool is amazing. Everything, from the clatter of balls caroming off each other to the sound of a pocketed ball, is realistic enough that you'll swear you're in an actual pool hall. The intensity of sounds -- the balls ricocheting, the cue tip hitting a ball -- change depending on the strength of the contact. The annoying MIDI music tracks from the DOS version are gone -- you now get solid CD audio music tracks. If you don't like the music included with the game, you can listen to your own CDs during game play.

System Requirements

Windows 95: 486/66, 8 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive

Recommended: P75 or faster, 16 MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM drive, and PCI video card. Also included on the CD is a copy of the DOS version, which requires a 386SX 40MHz or higher, VGA graphics, CD-ROM drive, and supports most major sound cards.

Macintosh: PowerPC Macintosh, 2X CD-ROM, System 7.5.1 or higher

Virtual Pool is also available for the Sony PlayStation.

Bottom Line

The DOS version of Interplay's Virtual Pool is one of my favorites -- its authentic simulation of the game is top-notch. This new version for Windows 95 has all the features that made the original DOS version so much fun; the added Internet play and better music make it well worth the cost to upgrade. I give Virtual Pool for Windows 95 a score of 85 out of 100.

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