Review by horror_spooky
Pool and video games go together pretty nice, actually. Out of all the sports to convert to a video game, the simplicity of pool makes it an obvious choice. Somehow, someway, the developers of Pool Nation FX botch the concept, and the result is a lackluster game with a few good ideas that go to waste.
The first thing you're going to notice about Pool Nation FX is the extremely long loading screen at the start of the game. This loading screen is ridiculously long, and there are numerous, really long loading screens throughout the game thereafter as well.
I suppose the extremely high graphical quality of the game is the reason for the long loading screens, but I'd rather have an uglier game that didn't have to load so much. In any case, the game is definitely pretty, with an absurd amount of detail. That being said, this is a game about pool, so it's kind of superfluous. It's easy to appreciate it in the moment, but resources could've been better spent elsewhere.
And while the graphics are good, the physics feel completely off. I have a pool table in my garage, and going from playing real world pool to play Pool Nation FX is a really strange experience. There's no good way to tell how the balls are going to react because the physics simply do not match up to real world pool. The aim assist is basically the only way to get that much enjoyment out of the game, but it also cheapens victories.
To its credit, Pool Nation FX has a lot of game modes. My only gripe is that there's no Cutthroat, which is my personal favorite pool game. In any case, the bevy of game modes is appreciated.
The online multiplayer is also really fun, when it works. The online connectivity for the game is spotty at best. Sometimes it works perfectly, other times it seems impossible to get into a game. This may also simply be due to a lack of people actually playing the game, but it's hard to say.
The offline gameplay is not quite as fun, mainly due to the erratic, unpredictable AI. No matter the difficulty, the AI will sometimes just randomly be terrible, and other times they will clean house as soon as they get a turn.
Another aspect of the game that feels broken is the Endurance mode. Endurance is an extra game mode where the goal is to sink as many balls as possible before there are 24 balls on the table. It's actually the most fun that I had with the game, but it's unfortunately pretty broken. The game will sometimes abruptly end before there are 24 balls even on the table, and honestly, the difficulty level for it is just way too high.
The achievements for Pool Nation FX are also extremely broken. The last time I played, all of the achievements tied to aim assists did not unlock at all. With all of these major issues, it is clear that Pool Nation FX was released an unfinished game.
One thing that I liked about the game though was that it gives reasons to keep playing, which is an area where a lot of sports games falter. There's plenty of customizable balls and areas to purchase with in-game money, plus there's a progression system tied to the various game modes (not just online).
I also enjoyed the music, for what it's worth. The graphics are very impressive, as I stated earlier, but the physics are a mess, so the presentation is kind of a mixed bag. The menus are also messy and it's hard sometimes to find exactly what you want to do, as some important features are completely and utterly buried.
The game has a lot of modes and lots to do, but its achievements are all screwed up, which is a major downside. Replayability, like the rest of the game, is just a really mixed bag.
Pool Nation FX has the tools to be good. Maybe with a few updates, the game will be a lot better. But as it stands now, it's a broken game that, despite some semblance of fun here and there, is hardly worth the headache.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Pool Nation FX (US, 04/01/15)
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