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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Playlogic
Developer By: Icon Games
Genre: Sports
Players: 1-4
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

July 13, 2009 - Pool Hall Pro, the latest collaboration between Playlogic and Icon Games, is a game for the Nintendo Wii that takes advantage of the console’s motion controls to create a gaming experience that rivals that of a real life game of billiards. Several developers have tried to recreate the billiards experience for the Nintendo Wii, however often fell short of their goal. The most widely successful game of billiards is part of Nintendo’s Wii Play game pack. With tons of gameplay modes to choose from and intuitive controls, it would seem that Pool Hall Pro and the Nintendo Wii is a perfect match in heaven.

Seeing how the most important aspect of pool is the cue, I will talk first about the control schemes of Pool Hall Pro. Players have their choice of standard and advanced control schemes. Both control schemes utilize the same buttons, the only real difference between the two is that with advanced, you control hitting the ball with the back and forth motions on your Wiimote. The D-pad is used to rotate the player’s view of the table, the A button sets the cue's angle and the pointers allow you to select a place on the ball to hit. The 1 button switches the camera view between both first-person view and overhead, and the B button is used to hit the ball with your cue. If you opt for the standard control scheme, when you press and hold down the B button, a power meter appears. Once you reach a desired power level you would release the button. With the advanced button scheme, you would pull back on the Wiimote and thrust it forward to hit the ball. There are also additional gameplay aids that help you better understand how to line up a shot.

For a game with a retail price of $30, Pool Hall Pro offers up a lot of content that will be appealing to pool fanatics and those who want a good investment for their money. Right off the bat, you are able to compete in several game modes, including Arcade, Tournament, World Tour and Exhibition. Alongside these gameplay modes is the option to choose one of four difficulty levels—Rookie, Amateur, Pro and Champion—each offering their own unique obstacles when competing. For those new to pool, new to the Wii or new to pool on the Wii, you can opt for Amateur level, allowing you to play around with the game without having to worry about the computer-controlled opponents slaughtering you. You can also hit up the Practice option until you get more comfortable with the game and its control schemes. If you become adventurous and take on the Pro and Champion difficulty levels, then you can expect the A.I. to put up a good fight, often having you choose your shots a lot more carefully.

Regardless if whether you are playing online or offline, you can compete in one of several game types, including 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 6 Ball Pool, 10 Ball Pool, etc. The different game mode types offered up are taken from both leisure and professional play, allowing the player to experience practically every type of billiards game in existence. I found this to be the best part of the game simply because unless you are a professional pool player, you often only know how to play maybe 1 or 2 of the game styles. Then when you take full advantage of Practice Mode and the intuitive control schemes, learning the ins and outs of each game type will take little to no time.

The visuals within Pool Hall Pro are a mixed bag in my opinion. The pool tables and balls are nicely detailed, while the rest of the environments seem a bit lacking. Seeing how the emphasis was placed on the actual game of pool, it seems that the developer didn’t spend enough time to polish over the visuals of the character you get to create the background environments, etc. Not to say they are horrible, but when you compare them to that of just the pool table and balls, they seem lacking. The Wii console tries to display this game in a widescreen presentation. Though the game doesn’t support the presentation, the Wii attempts to convert the full screen presentation into widescreen, which only ends up hurting the title's visuals. The music soundtrack is also a hit and miss setup. There are tunes that hark back to the 1980s, but nothing truly memorable.

While the graphics and sound( s are the weak points of Pool Hall Pro, as a total package, Icon Games did a nice job replicating real life pool for the Nintendo Wii console. With several different options and gameplay modes to choose from, Pool Hall Pro is well worth its $30 price tag and worth the countless hours you will spend playing the game. While some may opt to just stick with the pool action within Wii Play, nothing comes close to the variety and longevity of Pool Hall Pro for the Nintendo Wii.


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