3D Pool is easily the most enjoyable game I've ever seen all month. It's neither graphically excellent, nor full of fast nail-biting action, but it's got playability that outstrips every other game.
There have been a few pool games around in the past, but all have fallen down in various respects. Many had slightly tacky control methods, from the very early simulations that asked what angle you wished to cue the ball, and how hard (a pool shot comprises more than two parameters) up to even relatively "advanced" programs with extendible cues and accurate representations of the table set-up.
Not so here! Although the initial visual representation is pretty poor-the screen is green and black with horrific stripey balls and cross-hatching (about the only graphics system designed specifically not for use on the Spectrum). If you can stand to accustom yourself to this visual nightmare, the game shines through magnificently.
Before we get onto the play itself, I'll explain the peripheral factors. You can play against a friend or an ever-improving succession of computer-controlled players, from people like Cak-handed Kevin to Hustley Harold. You can even set up trick shots to impress the ladies.
The rules of pool are simple. Each player tries to pot all of his balls (either red or yellow/ stripes or spots) and then the black. He mustn't pot the cue ball or his opponent's, or he fouls and gives away two shots.
Onto the game. This is where it becomes clear that the 3D factor of the game is far from a cheap gimmick. It's essential to the control of the shots. You can zoom in and out to get a better look at the table. You can walk around to check out possible shots, and you can stand up or crouch down too. Once you've chosen which ball you want to go for, it's a question of lining up your cue-ball; it always moves directly away from your position. Then you've got to decide which part of the ball to hit; this affects spin and screw - which way the ball bounces and how it behaves after hitting other balls. Finally you determine the strength of the shot. You've to more control in 3D Pool than almost any other sim. It's also a more realistic feel, simply because of the way you view the table.
Once the shot has been set up. tapping ENTER will play it. You can walk around the table all the time to check how successful you have been.
If you're anything other than diametrically opposed to the concept of Pool, this is a definite must-buy, iffy graphics aside. A corker!
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Brilliant Pool sim. You never need got to the pub again.