PSN Review – Inferno Pool

Every console generation seems to have a pool or billiards game for players to while away their time, but are usually off on their physics and are generally completed by lucky shots that seem to defy the very law of physics. Growing up as a pool player has made most, if not all of those games, virtually unplayable.

Enter Dark Energy Digital, a design company from Manchester, England. Their latest creation is Inferno Pool, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Inferno Pool

Gameplay

The controls are pretty simple and for straight up pool, it can make the game seem a tad bit too easy. You can change the aiming difficulty to shorten how much of the ‘ball travel track’ is displayed, but it still makes the game pretty easy to play. The game really needed the ability to set rules where you have to bank every shot or have to make combos on all shots but the 8 or 9.

Controlling the spin of the cue ball (English for real pool players) is done by utilizing the d-pad before taking your shot. You can change the angle of the pool cue by holding L1 and using the left analog stick to raise or lower the back end. This is critical for jumping and even curving your shots a bit. The physics are spot on and the balls due pretty much what they would do on a real table, and for this I applaud Dark Energy.

There is a bonus point system that rewards you for making trick shots or hard shots, but the game somehow knows what you were trying to do, so if you get lucky and pull off a great shot, don’t expect that bonus. It’s not perfect and I hit a ‘Legendary’ shot (4916 Points) by accident, but it’s pretty close to perfect.

The game has your standard 8 ball and 9 ball modes, and they are fun to play but not very challenging. Where this game changes things up a bit is in Inferno mode. It is an arcade type of game where it is a race to clear your table before your opponents can clear their table, with a twist. Every ball you sink in a row goes into your ballzooka, and can then be ‘shared’ with your opponents. With up to 4 players online, or offline, this can be very intense.

Multiplayer Mode

There is also an Endurance mode that is just you against the clock and the table. You have to keep 24 balls from being placed by making shots as fast as you can. The game starts out slow, but you better work fast because it will be speeding up. One trophy is for lasting over 5 minutes in Endurance mode, and that will take some skill.

Endurance Mode

Sound

The sound isn’t groundbreaking, and this game just begs for custom soundtracks (sadly not available), but the sound does fit the game play. For online games, voice chat is available and uses an open mic system. You can turn the sound off in the options, but restarting the game always resets everything back to the max setting.

Graphics

The game plays in 720p and looks great. As you can tell by all of the in-game screen shots, the tables themselves haven’t been well taken care of and can actually make some shots harder to see. They look like all have had more than a fair share of beer spilled on them. The pool balls look and act like real pool balls, but the angle assists that are shown have a tendency to make the game a little too easy.

The Final Word

Pool games have been around for just about as long as video games themselves. There have been OK games, and even some good ones, but most have missed the mark due to awful physics. With Inferno Pool, Dark Energy Digital has raised the bar for pool games. The graphics are great, but where this game impresses is with its physics based gameplay that is spot on. If you have a decent knowledge of pool, and how the balls should react, then you’ll almost feel like you are looking at a real table and not a video game rendition. The online play, with voice chat, can be very intense and will probably make you want to play til the wee hours of the morning. If you are in need of some quick tips for playing, check out Dark Energy Digital’s website here.

The Scorecard

85%

+ Great graphics

+ Realistic physics based action

+ Online voice chat

+ Low price ($9.99)

– No custom soundtracks

– Can be a little too easy in 8-ball and
9-ball competitions

– No custom competitions