5th Apr 2004 | 16:22
Long-time readers of PC ZONE will know that drinking makes you better at playing PC games. In a wholly scientific feature, we proved that you enter 'the zone' between two and six pints, leaving it shortly thereafter despite your brain refusing to acknowledge the fact.
The exact same curve can be used to describe pool. Get down the pub sober and you'll play like a clueless twat. Get on the beer and the balls start shooting down the pockets quicker than Dwain Chambers after a double-drop. The perfect excuse, then, to review a game while drinking...
Double-act Archer Maclean and Jimmy White have collaborated on pool games before to great effect, but what can you really add to the mix when you've already perfected the physics? In this case a tropical island and a load of people ready to take you for all you've got at a variety of different games like 9-ball, killer and straight UK pool. So, not a lot then...
Saying that though, Pool Paradise plays a pretty good game, with mouse-driven cueing bringing you as close to the real thing as possible. Earn yourself some cash by taking part in tournaments and spot challenges, and you can buy new baizes and cues or sample various sub-games like darts and coconut shy. Don't expect to spend any more than about 12 seconds on each, but they're free so I'm not going to whine.
Actually that's a lie - the bitch-slapping starts here. First off, who designed the graphics? I could have done better and I can't draw. Sub-primary school scrawls of characters with names like Kent Be Serious and Don Pushme have no place in a pool game - pool is cool, or at least it should be. Playing on a make-believe island and having to dive under water to borrow money off the loan shark (geddit?) is bad enough, but when the developers can't even muster up the cash to draw a decent resemblance of Jimmy White, the celeb endorsement, you have to worry.
Other in-offs include the lack of a free cam (which makes it hard to line up certain shots) and the lack of a pointer showing which ball you're supposed to be playing next in a sequential game. What's more, the dialogue box covers the screen after a foul break, rendering it impossible to decide whether you should play on or re-rack. Minor points, admittedly, but annoying ones nonetheless.
Then there's the dodgy AI that produces identical breaks if you play the same character again, and super-aggressive play from the big boys with not even a nod to a safety game. All of which adds up to a rushed and amateurish job, albeit one that's surprisingly addictive. Happy? Right, I'm off down the pub.