Pool Paradise transports gamers to a remote tropical island, where they'll take part in a billiards tournament against 30 of the world's best shooters. Boasting more credentials than one might shake a cue stick at, Pool Paradise was developed by European billiards sim specialist Archer Maclean and his Awesome Studios (Archer Maclean's Pool, Jimmy White's Whirlwind, Jimmy White's Cueball series), once again under consultation with real-life snooker champion Jimmy White (who is also featured as a advisor character in this game).
Would-be sharks can get a feel the action at the beachside Practice Table, or begin their climb up the tournament ladder in the "Competition Hut." As in the producers' earlier efforts, gamers can choose to play under several different rules sets, including both U.S. and U.K. versions of 8-ball and 9-ball. Additional modes and features may be unlocked through skilled play. The realistic billiards action is complemented by fantasy challenges and mini-games, such as the strangely shaped tables found in the "Stunt Hut" area, and an emulation of Archer Maclean's 1994 SNES game Dropzone found at the "Arcade Hut."
The maestro of the green baize, in terms of creating a snooker or pool game, is Archer Maclean. Having been around since day one on the gaming scene, and creating a number of classics, which include Snooker titles, some might say that this kind of game hasn't really moved on that much in the last few years and there is nothing more that the wizard of the small round balls can reinvent or improve on. A good pool games isn't always about being innovative, it could be about creating a pixel perfect, and physics accurate, stylish presentation that has endless hours of fun and a compelling challenge led game. Granted we have had a number of great Pool and Snooker games delivered over the last 18 months but none that has offered the full to bursting, slick and can't believe it is that good, definitive genre leader.
A number of Pool and Snooker games have had great looks, some with great physics, other with brilliant controls, whilst a few have actually had great sub games, full endorsement and input from a professional player, but none has had the lot. Could Pool Paradise offer this and more?
The creation of Pool Paradise has had the added input of Jimmy White, the people's favorite, and those in the know, know that Archer and Jimmy have spent many hours together in the search for perfection on the PC and console.
The game starts by being shunted to a Tropical island of sand and sun - but to the player, indoor rooms. Inside these airy looking huts, you've guessed it Pool tables, which include a practice table, along with crazy shaped tables. There is a dart board to play 501, 301 and 'round the clock'; as well as other fun sub games, such as Coconut Shy, Skeeball and DropZone (one of Archer's arcade classic titles). Most of the sub games are initially locked and they can be unlocked by paying for them from some of your hard earned dosh! Yes, winning matches equates to grabbing money, which in turn will open up the sub games. To accentuate things you can actually place bets and visit a shop on the island to make purchases. You can even, can you believe it, purchase finer baizes! Yes folks, all the fun of the fair and served up on a cool looking tropical island.
Now many Pool player will be accustomed to the general rules of Pool, yes that's the small table in the pub, but there are loads of variants on a single theme and this includes 6, 9 and 10 ball Pool, which are all included! Most will also know that the balls can be distinguished by the numbers, colors or patterns! Hitting the wrong ball isn't the way to win a pool challenge.
Read through the manual and you will find some new surprises on the theme, which are easy to understand with additions such as Killer, the object being to force your opponent to make an error and lose a set of lives, and with Rotation is all about scoring more points.
No matter what variant you pick it really is about choosing and manipulating your cue to the right angle and executing the perfect shot to get the ball in the pocket. The strength, + the angle of the shot, whilst considering where the cue ball will spot for the next shot, is what it is all about! It's not all about the present shot but looking towards the next one!
Surprisingly, the direction button and stick allow for great viewing of the table and picking the right angle, and of this simple task was not overly complicated, nor was actually hitting the ball. The mechanics to play the game were simple in the use of the controls and viewing of the table but needed skill and a good eye to master. Through a good few hours of play you get your 'eye' in and become pretty good. The physics in the game were almost transparent so nothing appeared wrong or out of synch. To be honest, Archer's games have always been a joy to play and on this occasion the superb 3D graphics and the fluidity of play were top notch.
The challenges offered in terms of beating your opponents were well tapered; the more you play the better you get and winning some dosh and opening the sub games, which were equally enjoyable, really topped the experience.
With the rules and actions of Pool pretty straightforward, a lot of extra gloss to the game comes in the form of animation, and the sub games.
People who downloaded Archer Maclean Presents Pool Paradise have also downloaded:
World Championship Pool 2004, British Open Championship Golf, Fast Lanes Bowling, Archer Maclean's Pool (a.k.a. Pool Shark), Alpine Ski Racing 2007: Bode Miller vs. Hermann Maier, Cross Racing Championship 2005, Athens 2004, Links 2003
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