|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Icon Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: PlayLogic||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 9, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Wiis controllers seem perfectly suited for pool, and since the consoles debut, lots of developers have taken a shot at getting the sport just right. Aside from the billiards game in Wii Play, however, few pool games have seen a whole lot of success or recognition. Pool Hall Pro is the latest attempt to break this trend, and in a lot of ways it does. Its far from the definitive Wii pool game, but its certainly a playable and fun title with a lot going for it.
Of course, with any Wii sports game, the most important thing is the control scheme. Pool Hall Pro offers two: standard and advanced. With either, you use the D-pad to rotate your view of the board, the A button to set the cues angle of elevation, and the pointer to select a place on the ball to hit. The 1 button switches between a first-person view and an overhead view. In the advanced setup, you hold down the B button and move the Wii-mote like you would a real cue to hit the ball. In the basic setup, the most noticeable difference is that a power meter comes up when you draw the cue back, and you hit the ball by releasing the B button rather than thrusting the Wii-mote forward. We didnt find the advanced setup considerably more difficult to use, and most players should start with it. The games other aid, a visual representation of the path the cue ball will travel until it first hits something, is much more helpful.
This setup gives players a good sense of control. Without too much trouble, you can view the table from any angle and hit the ball however youd like; in this regard, the only complaint we had was that in the first-person view, it would have been nice to be able to adjust our peripheral vision without also adjusting the angle we were shooting at. Also, with the basic setup, winding up can feel a bit exaggerated at times (you have to move the Wii-mote back much farther than most players would move a real pool cue), but we got used to it fairly quickly, and the advanced setup helps with this problem (by allowing you to control power not only by drawing the cue back, but also by thrusting it forward more or less gently).
In Pool Hall Pro, the emphasis is on the pool table itself. The balls and table are well-depicted and easy to see, the physics engine creates realistic interactions between the objects (caveat: were not advanced pool players, so there may be subtle problems we missed), and the sound effects are very realistic. The opponent A.I. is, for the most part, handled well; the skill level is adjustable, and easier opponents tend to miss the tricky shots more often. The rookie opponents are great for beginners, and tougher opponents will give experienced pool players a run for their money. In our time with the game, our opponents did take a couple of outright weird shots, but then again, even human pool players can be hard to scrutinize when they go for a long shot and/or miss spectacularly.