Not a game about naked women, dammit.
Pool Hustler, the latest pool game for the Playstation, does a lot of things most pool games don't do. Sure, you can play good old 8-ball, the game everyone knows and loves. But here you can also play 9-ball, 14-1, and Rotation. If you don't know how to play any of these other games of billiards, don't sweat it! The game has a tutor mode where it will not only show you how to play, but it will also teach you how to execute trick shots and all kinds of other pool intricacies. The tutor mode in itself could make you a pool master, but the rest of the game will help you perfect your skills.
For a pool game to be successful, you'd expect good physics and realistic play, right? Well, Pool Hustler certainly has that, and with it the game takes pool to a new level. Besides being able to play any of the aforementioned games by yourself, you can play 6 person multiplayer. This mode alone makes Pool Hustler a great party game.
But beyond even a great multiplayer mode, Pool Hustler has a Story mode. "A Story mode in a pool game?" you ask. Well, it certainly is interesting - you travel around a city attempting to hustle other players of various skills. Computer players will bet with you on certain shots (3 ball in corner pocket) or on whole games. Lose, and you can try two out of three. The Story mode gives you a good chance to practice all the things you learned in the tutor mode, as well as preparing you for the final showdown with the ultimate pool hustler at the end of the game.
In terms of graphics, Pool Hustler succeeds marvelously. The ultra crisp 3D pool table is simple (how complicated can a pool table be?) but the cleanness of the graphics is unparalleled. The 3D spherical balls look absolutely incredible (it's hard to explain - even if they are simple, they still look great). Even the 2D intermission and message graphics have a certain graphical flair. Pool Hustler is just an amazing looking game, certainly much better than Virtual Pool 2.
Music is jazzy, but uninspiring. At some points it gets pretty bad and begins to suck the life out of the game. But, not to worry, sound effects are great. Although there aren't many (cue stick hitting ball, ball hitting other ball), they sound exceptionally realistic and make Pool Hustler feel truly like a real game of pool.
There are even secrets in Pool Hustler. If you do really well in a match or as you progress in the Story mode, new pool halls will be revealed. Although differences between pool halls are subtle, the main difference is music and the appearance of the table. These secrets give you good reason to play through the game. Plus, they add much needed variety.
It's somewhat hard to talk about a pool game that does almost nothing wrong. This game is exactly what it is supposed to be and more - it's a pool simulation, it's a tutor, it's a great multiplayer game, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. For a game that came out of nowhere in the "virtual'ly dead billiard market, Pool Hustler is sure to impress.