In Virtual Pool 3 Featuring Jeanette Lee, the stellar musical and video intro, which features Jeanette Lee taking her opponents to the cleaners during many of her victories, is a great prelude to a fairly solid game that is only a few components shy of being tremendous. From the opening screen, numerous options are available, including a quick play choice which may be the easiest for beginners but hardly easy in execution. Even in amateur mode, the computer is quite a challenging opponent in that it rarely misses a shot once given the table. But, it is a fun challenge and can be conquered with practice.
Besides straight pool and 9-ball, the most popular forms of pool, an incredibly long list of games is available, which require some reading, learning and practicing in order to be able to play with any competitive ability. Again, though, it's a good challenge and gives the game incredible replay value in that it could take years to make it through the many different game locations, from the garage to the pool hall and beyond using all the different game types.
Initially the controls seem hard to master but, in fact, they are quite usable and the very thorough instruction manual can be credited for that. Aiming a shot is done with the mouse -- it's a bit easier with a laptop's touch pad mouse than a standard one but not by much. The view can easily be zoomed in or out, moved up or down and rotated around the table to make that perfect shot.
Executing the shot involves holding down a key and making a simple forward and back motion with the mouse. Finding the right momentum is tough, which results in many shots that are too hard and cause the cue ball to go flying from the table, as well as soft shots that would be embarrassing at an actual pool hall. This is especially the case during opening game breaks, which are almost too difficult to perform successfully with the mouse, while the computer opponent handles them without trouble.
The sound during gameplay is just as captivating as that of the opening sequence. Although it can be turned off, the tunes add a little excitement to a game that, if played in silence, could become dull. Furthermore, the sound effects on the table, which are not drowned out by the music, are very realistic and timed perfectly.
Unfortunately, the graphics don't measure up to the standards set by the rest of the game. The background graphics, which are designed as spider webs to correlate with Jeanette Lee's nickname Black Widow, are tremendous but the pool cues, scenery and even the pool balls are not so much true graphics as blocky images. While the scenery is not of utmost importance and can pass at a sub-par level, the pool balls are such that the numbers aren't even visible, making playing 9-ball tough if you don't have the colors memorized. Finally, the pool cue, even though realistic in motion, is very unrealistic in appearance and could be drastically improved.
Overall, the game offers all the features of the better pool simulation efforts with many added bonuses, including a video tutorial by Lee, as well as an assortment of equipment to from which to choose. The ability to play on the Internet is a plus -- an aspect that is fun and not as hard to win at as playing against a computer opponent. After conquering the human opponents, the toughest challenge is to move into tournament mode and take on Jeanette Lee. Better make sure you're at the top of your game, though, because she doesn't enjoy losing.
Graphics: Still images are wonderful and the video graphics are great but the cues and balls are sub-par.
Sound: Great music and wonderful, as well as realistic, sound effects.
Enjoyment: Just a fun game to kick back and play, either alone, with friends or over the Internet.
Replay Value: There are so many game modes and locations, as well as leagues and tournaments to enjoy, the game couldn't possible get old.
People who downloaded Virtual Pool 3 have also downloaded:
Virtual Pool 2, Virtual Pool Hall, Virtual Pool, World Championship Pool 2004, Virtua Tennis, Links 2003, Maximum Pool, World Championship Snooker 2004
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