STAFF REVIEW of Pool Nation (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Monday, November 26, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Pool Nation Box art "Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool."

If you're a fan of pool halls, tournaments, or just pool in general, then your choices for quality billiards for a while has been very slim. One of the most popular games around the world now comes to the Xbox Live Arcade with the release of Pool Nation. Priced at 800 MS points, now lets find out if it sinks the 9 in on the break, or scratches on the 8. Grab your chalk and line up your break as we take to the felt and find out what Pool Nation is all about.

One of the many beauties about pool is that there are tons of variants to the game. Thankfully Pool Nation does honor this quality about the sport by providing six gametypes to play in multiplayer which range from 3-Ball, to Golf, to Rotation and more on top of the lengthy 9-Ball and 8-Ball tour mode. Pool Nation does offer one new innovation to billiard games on the Xbox 360 and that is the introduction to Endurance. The goal is simple, sink all the balls as fast as you can and survive till the end, but you'll quickly learn that isn't as easy as it looks. Starting similar to 9-Ball, however, after the break, more balls are added to the table in random spots every few seconds. This mode will have you thinking quickly because the twist is, if there are a total of 24 balls on the table, the game is over. That means you have a starting limit of only 15 balls so timing is critical. There is a small window of hope though and that is what I like to call the time stopper. By completing various trick shots and gaining high pocket streaks, your time stopper meter fills to a point where you can actually freeze time temporarily and prevent any new balls from being in play.

While this new innovation goes a long way into breathing new life into this sport, the same can also be said for the graphics and physics. To say that this game handles like what you would expect from a real pool game is close to the truth. All the ball skill shots are available to use, so now you can work on your trick shot skills as you work to become the pool shark of Xbox Live. The balls themselves react as you would expect from a real world game, and when you add that feature to the ease of use controls, then you have the makings of a brilliant billiards game. You just heard me mention that the graphics are stunning, and when I say that, I mean jaw dropping realistic. Every aspect down to the fibers in the felt showcase a beauty beyond comprehension. The only thing that is missing graphically would be the inclusion of using your own avatar on Xbox Live and instead you are left with an invisible person holding the cue stick, but it's hard to focus on that while you're staring at something so mind boggling gorgeous.

The sport of pool has been around a long time, and many other games have tried to do it justice but have fallen short. Others have hit the mark and have quickly become the definitive title in pool. Now with Pool Nation for 800 MS points we get a wealth of content wrapped in a beautiful visual bow. If you are a fan of pool, then without question Pool Nation is a must have game.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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