Eight ball, corner pocket.
The push is on these days for computer games with a “virtual” feel to them–virtual simulations of sports, auto racing, jet fighting, and blowing things up. Well, line up a rack and add Celeris and MacPlay’s Virtual Pool to the fray.
Recently ported to the Macintosh, Virtual Pool takes full advantage of the Power PC processor by offering complete 360-degree rotational views of the table and realistic enough physics for precise ball behavior. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve always wanted to have a professional-size Brunswick in my billiard room–heck, even having a billiard room would be cool enough. And while there’s nothing quite like the feel of a cue in your hands and the sound of a clean break or sink, you can’t argue with the quality of the rendition or the price (compared to a real table) of Celeris’ effort.
Virtual Pool can be played in 8-ball, 9-ball, straight pool, or rotation-style, each according to professional rules. Don’t know how to play? No worries; an extensive video library covers all the bases, from simply lining up the cue, to trick shots like the Canoga Park Curve. Guiding you on this three-hour tour of the pool hall is hall of famer “Machine Gun” Lou Butera (Not Joe V-turbo), a face you may recall from all those instructional pool videotape commercials on late-night ESPN coverage. What, am I the only one who watches those?
The options available on each shot are quite extensive, from controlling the force of the shot, to tip placement. What happens should you decide to put some left English on the ball and stroke down at a 45-degree angle? Turn on the tracking function in non match play to see where each ball will end up. Of course, the tracking function only predicts ball movement in ideal conditions, and the physics of Virtual Pool are good enough to factor in the inconsistencies and bumps of the table felt. Well, you can’t have everything….
But wait, there’s more! Just by purchasing Virtual Pool, you also get free of charge (dah dah dah!) background music! The Virtual Pool CD doubles as an audio CD, not with the usual MIDI tracks you’d find on a computer game but with actual music, ranging from country to rock and everything in between. Supposedly, it’s to help add the ambience of a smokey, dark pool hall, but take my advice: there’s a reason they didn’t mention this bonus on the back of the package. Luckily, the jukebox stops when you want it to.
One claim Virtual Pool does make on the box is that it can improve your real-world pool game or your money back. That’s a pretty hefty claim to make, but just by watching the videos and using the ball tracking, I’ve managed to understand the game a little more. Not that anybody will be able to buy Virtual Pool and go out hustling like Fast Eddie Felson or Minnesota Fats, but Virtual Pool is a lot like an instructional video and then some. Cue it up and give it a virtual whirl.