Just by looking at graphics and reading the back of the box, Virtual Pool seems like a quality game. With four different pool games including 8-Ball, 9-Ball, Straight Pool, and Rotation, realistic physics designed by physicists, geometry developed by mathematicians, and lots of full-motion video sequences, how could you go wrong? Quite easily, actually, as this game proves.
It is the overall gameplay of Virtual Pool that makes me long for the days of Side Pocket on the NES. While the various 3D perspectives are adequate and the graphics are nicely detailed, it fails to present itself as an actual virtual experience. Though you can zoom in and out to get a feel for where the balls are located, you never really get a feeling that you're in control of the action. An overhead perspective option would have made the game much more playable. What's worse is you actually have the option to see things from an overhead view but have no way to utilize it.
If there's any reason to buy this game instead of heading down to the local pool hall, it's for the video clips provided; it is a great way to learn trick shots as well as general pool strategies. By listening to "Machine Gun" Lou Butra's advice, you can actually benefit and improve your game. There's even a real instructional video contained on the CD that almost makes Virtual Pool worth picking up. Also of notable interest, there's an extremely detailed (and creative!) telling of the history of billiards.
What it all comes down to is that players in search of a pool game should look elsewhere. On the other hand, anyone not wanting to spend $39.95 on those pool instructional videos you see all those commercials for might want to take a look at Virtual Pool, if for an entirely different reason. ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide
Very impressive 3D graphics and VHS-quality video clips. ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide
While the sound effects are decent, there's a reason you haven't heard of the performers that provide background music... ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide
As a game, Virtual Pool fails. Fortunately, it makes for a great instructional video -- without the rewinding! ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide
If you actually like playing the game, you are probably likely to return to it a fair number of times. ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide
A quality instruction booklet that could work as a general tips book for playing the real thing as well. ~ Christopher Michael Baker, All Game Guide