Game Over Online ~ Maximum Pool

GameOver Game Reviews - Maximum Pool (c) Sierra, Reviewed by - Mike McDermott

Game & Publisher Maximum Pool (c) Sierra
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 125MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Thursday, September 7th, 2000 at 09:14 PM

Divider Left By: Mike McDermott Divider Right

"Cool Pool is now Maximum Pool!"

That quote comes directly from Sierra and it should be taken literally folks, because Cool Pool is really now Maximum Pool. The name has been changed, but the game remains the same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing considering Cool Pool was a very solid billiards title to begin with. Well, I shouldn't say it's entirely the same. Sierra has introduced a few new additions to the mix, including new tables/games and features, so let's rack 'em up and find out if Maximum Pool can play with the best of them.

Owners of Cool Pool will recognize many of the traditional tables available in Maximum Pool: Eight Ball, Nine Ball, Rotation, Cutthroat, Rotation, and Basic Pocket Billiards. Two new tables have been added to the classic collection including Snooker and Carom, a popular European variation played with just three balls on a table without pockets. If any of these games seem foreign to you, Sierra has made sure Maximum Pool is as user-friendly as possible by including a help section with the rules of play for each game along with a series of tips that can be easily accessed.

Besides the traditional tables, Sierra has also thrown in 5 over-the-top variations that feature wacky gimmicks on standard or crazy tables. They include: Chameleon Ball, Poker, Rocket Ball, 24 Cents and Mad Bomber. Just to give you an idea what these creations consist of, let's take Poker for example. The object of the Poker table is to knock down pool balls depicting images of different cards to form your poker hand. The player with the best hand is the winner. Some of the balls are mystery balls, so you won't know which card they represent until after the game is finished. Traditionalists probably won't adhere to these incarnations, but they're refreshing games that at least might capture the interest of younger gamers.

One of the areas Maximum Pool improves upon Cool Pool is the skill level of the computer opponents. There are three skill levels including Novice, Intermediate and Expert, a difficulty level that is sure to challenge even the best of the pool sharks. On the lower two skill levels, a number of settings become available including the ability to auto-aim for balls as well as an indicator displaying the line your will take pending the angle of you cue stick. These settings make things much easier for beginners learning the metalwork of the game of pool. As with Cool Pool, the power of the shot is determined by swinging your mouse in the manner you would a pool cue. The good news is it doesn't take accuracy into effect, just power.

The visuals in Maximum Pool aren't spectacular by any means, but they get the job done. The menus are rather bland but the tables and balls themselves look realistic and the ball physics are excellent. Maximum Pool doesn't bring the ambiance of a real pool hall quite like Interplay's Virtual Pool series, but the atmosphere is solid enough to play a few games of pool. The audio is much like the visuals, simple but effective. The usual effects can be heard such as the cue hitting the ball and such. Each of the five video-captured opponents (including Buddy the dog) will often ridicule you with taunts as you play, but they can become repetitive pretty fast.

Once you get tired of playing against computer opponents, you can venture online to play against opponents over the Internet. Maximum Pool conveniently dumps you onto a server where you can matchmake with other owners of the game. Sierra has devised Maximum Pool so that it is compatible with Cool Pool, so you can play against owners of either Cool Pool or Maximum Pool. Of course, owners of Cool Pool won't be able to play the variations that are only found in Maximum Pool such as Snooker and Carom.

It's not quite up to the level of Interplay's Virtual Pool series, but Maximum Pool more than holds it's own. If you already purchased Cool Pool, you're basically looking at two new classic games and five fantasy tables as your upgrade, not to mention minor tweaks in the artificial intelligence. If you're a traditionalist, those five tables might not appeal to you at all, which means there's not much in terms of new additions. In that respect, it's probably not worth the extra money. If you don't already own Cool Pool though, Maximum Pool is a solid game of billiards.


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