Title: Virtual Pool
Compatible: iPhones, iPod touches
Virtual Pool by Celeris
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Pool, Puzzle, Music + Slots Games. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Of the three titles, the one that made the most positive impression visually is Virtual Pool. Celeris has ported a highly impressive 3-D billiards engine to the iPhone OS, providing not only pool tables and nice-looking 3-D balls, but also six completely 3-D modeled environments ranging from a practice and low-end competitive garage to higher-stakes bar, pro, and championship settings. Playing through an extensive career mode unlocks these additional rooms; a quick play mode lets you practice or play a real game in any of the rooms you’ve unlocked.
When you’re playing the games, which include 6-ball, 8-ball, 9-ball, 10-ball, rotation, and straight variations, you compete against numerous computer-controlled opponents or human ones, each represented by name, face, and a funny description. The game includes video cut scenes—some more annoying than desirable—as well as smooth, believable ball physics and full 3-D camera motion. Virtual Pool looks as close to playing real pool as you can currently come on the iPhone, and though the audio is little more than the sounds of the cue stick hitting balls, and balls hitting balls, the overall experience is pretty impressive.
Where Virtual Pool has small issues, in our view, is in control. You’re presented with a fantastic 3-D view of the table and a relatively straightforward, touch-friendly control scheme: the ball’s in front of you, so pull back with your finger on the cue and swipe forward to shoot. Need to adjust the ball’s spin? Press a button, move your cue stick’s position on the ball’s surface, and then shoot. Simple, right? Sort of. You’ll probably want to judge your shot from a different angle. And you might want to shoot from that angle, like overhead, or off to a side, perhaps using a trajectory line to judge the angle. But you can’t. And the touch controls don’t give you a great sense of precision in shooting, either; we liked the other control schemes here more. We’d call this a highly impressive game visually with a fine approach to controls and a price that’s a little on the high side. Should the developers offer additional control schemes—hopefully, borrowing from the next title here—it might be worthy of an even higher rating. iLounge Rating: B+.