A Whole New Ball Game

Who needs pool parlours anyway?

Just when you thought the original "Virtual Pool" was quite brilliant in its own right, along comes something even better. "Virtual Pool 2" offers a marked increase in player options, and a user interface which allows you to control everything but the kitchen sink!

Most 3D simulations do have a lot of settings...and "Virtual Pool 2" is no exception. The simulation offers you a variety of choices, strategies, graphics and tournaments to choose from. From an individual standpoint, you can jam with another player from a remote location via a modem or a network, practice trick shots by yourself, or test yourself against the computer. If you have what it takes to choose the "tournament setup", you're given the opportunity to play a virtual tournament against a host of computer opponents, where you are subject to elimination once you lose (very intense!)

The game, like its predecessor, requires careful usage of both the keyboard and the mouse. As always, you can get a better viewpoint of the action by simply moving the mouse forward or backward, while the keyboard can be used to change the point of view, to aim, to raise the butt of the cue and to invoke a variety of other specialized moves.

If you think the gameplay is comprehensive, you'd probably have a tough time selecting a suitable alternative from the game menu - choose from straight pool, nine ball, eight ball, six ball, ten ball, rotation, or blank pocket. The celebrated eight ball match is subject to American bar or English pub rules, and you can even alter the level of professionalism once you're there.

But hark - you must watch and learn (from the pros) before you leap into the world of professional pool...and that's exactly what "Virtual Pool 2" offers its players. An entire library of recorded special moves awaits you, and professionals like Lou Butera and Mike Sigal teach you the ropes though a visual instruction course that sharpens your game and prepares you for the worst. The tutorial sections instruct you in the basic fundamentals of the game and the main strategies for scoring, making the sometimes complex game of pool (dare I say it?) simple. Finally, the table graphics are simplistic and don't differ widely from the original; the hue and shadows can, however, be altered to suit individual tastes.

You really can't go wrong with this one; it's enjoyable and intelligent, and once you play it, you may never go back to the parlour for forty bucks a frame!

This article was first published on 19 Mar 2001.