Sometimes you get titles with fabulous gameplay and disappointing graphics. Sometimes, you get fabulous gameplay and fabulous graphics - not often, but it happens, as with International Snooker. And sometimes you get disappointing gameplay and fabulous graphics - which describes Pool8bar to a tee. Or should I say, to a cue....
Let's start with the bouquets:
- Pool8bar has a fabulous 3D engine - you can, using the touchscreen, swipe around the table in three dimensions, viewing it from, literally, any angle, in real time, even while balls are moving.
- The physics of the balls is pretty good too, they move in a realistic way when clouted.
- I loved the ambient silhouettes and neon menus - all very atmospheric.
- The AI skill level is decent and on 'expert' level can give you a good game (or at least would if the control system wasn't so awkward - see below)
- Pool8bar fully supports fast app switching, so you can resume a game instantly, as long as it's still in RAM (i.e. the OS hasn't reclaimed the memory)
But then we hit the brickbats...
- Cue aiming is very coarse - the tiniest of swipes on the cue moves it by a few degrees, making massive differences in where the cue ball hits. So most of the time you won't be able to play the exact shots you can 'see' on the screen and in your mind.
- There's no way to specify the strength of each shot - I kid you not, every shot has to be the exact same strength.
- There's no way to apply spin of any kind - with no possibilities for backspin or topspin, allied to the lack of strength control, reduces the skill factor here to almost zero.
- Despite the 3D realism, it would be nice to be able to zoom in as well sometimes, to get closer to a particular shot, to line it up better, etc. The camera viewpoint here remains at a constant distance from the table (not from the cueball).
You can download the trial version of Pool8bar from the Windows Phone Marketplace, if you want to see all this for yourself.