Virtual Pool 3 | 323.81 Mb
Virtual Pool 3 has a stunning list of features, especially for a billiards game. There are 18 different games available, including three, six, eight, nine, ten, and fifteen ball, snooker, billiards, cowboy, and bowlliards; about the only type of game neglected is bumper pool. All have their own different rules and stipulations, and add a great amount of variety to the game. There is also a multitude of computer opponents on all skill levels, so finding a qualified adversary is easy. Quick play is the easiest and most direct way to play. Career mode is interesting, as you move up the ladder, hoping one day to reach the pinnacle of the sport. The only downside to the career mode is that you can only engage in one kind of match with each career: you can't play a game of nine ball, then switch to cushion billiards. There is Internet play through GameSpy Arcade, elimination tournaments, and the ability to try trick shots of your making. You can also customize the table properties, and even turn tracking on, much like in that episode in Quantum Leap to see where the balls will end up. On top of all this, the tutorial videos, hosted by the matriarch of the game Jeanette Lee, show you everything you need to know about play competitively, and even let you attempt the same shot Jeanette just hit. If it's in pool, it's in Virtual Pool 3.
The smashing of pool balls together is superbly illustrated here. However, the ambient noise is especially engaging. Depending on the level that you chose, different sounds are appropriately echoed through your speakers. A couple of times, I turned my head to see the cat behind me, only to discover it was the game. The environmental noise strikes the perfect balance between not enough clamor and overdoing it. You won't grow tired of this racket, and, most importantly, won't even notice it, since it is so natural. The sound is well done.
The staple of any pool game's gameplay is the physics model, and Virtual Pool 3 simulates real earth forces superbly. All the types of shots that you can attempt in a pool hall, you can emulate here. The control over the ball is unparalleled. Each shot consists of movement (if applicable), aiming, and shooting. You can, of course, do a whole lot more than this between shots. You can modify your stroke by raising the butt of the cue, applying English to spin the ball to your liking. You can even fine-tune your shots, to create that perfect game winner. The limits of real geometry are in place, however. If you are too close to a rail or another ball, you must alter your shot to accommodate the distorted angles that your pool cue must make. If you strike the cue ball just wrong, it may fly off the table. It would have been nice if objects around the room could be damaged from errant balls, but c'est la vie. Real pool players can apply their skills very easily to Virtual Pool 3, and you can even improve your own play, thanks to the fact that the physics model is so accurate and seamless.
The graphics are pretty good as well. They accurately display a pool setting, and the depictions of the table, pool balls, and billiard sticks (or cue, if you want) are very realistic. Everything is rendered in 3D, and you can rotate your view to any perspective you can imagine. Each different location has a unique background, but this never comes into play, and it is a static, albeit nice, backdrop. There are a couple of times I thought that I was playing pool, rather than a pool computer game. The graphics enhance the overall great gaming experience.