The lighting is bad, the air thick with cigarette smoke
and a cast of shady characters eyeballing your wallet are what
usually await you at a pool hall. Gremlin Interactive’s PSX port of
Pool Shark eliminates two of the above criteria by providing a
virtual pool experience that rivals the real thing in that you won’t
be hustled for everything you have; you can however be hustled
Through both software and hardware rendering, Pool
Shark provides the player with a more-or-less realistic pool
experience. The background graphics are done well, as are the
tables, however the shortcoming of this title’s graphics comes from
the NPCs. Once again, large jagged polygons make up your
opponents, detracting visually from the game. For a pool game
though, the overall visual impression left upon the player isn’t too
disappointing, especially when compared to previous titles in this
Laughing, cursing and yelling are what you would
expect to hear during a typical pool match; Pool Shark barely
provides us with anything but the clacking of balls off of each
other. It’s actually rather quiet during a game, except for the
comments made by NPCs when they miss (and the single line they
use over and over gets irritating fast). Pool and music should go
hand in hand, but not in this game; there actually seems to be no
music at all.
Pool Shark as a one player game won’t hold the
average player’s attention for long, however it starts to shine in
multiplayer mode. Connections are available via TCP/IP, Modem,
IPX and Serial. The gameplay is relatively smooth and there is
support for up to 16 players over a network or on one machine
(turn based). What this game lacks in challenge, it makes up for
with competition; this is largely due to the fact that the controls are
awkward and the AI is much better than you.
Your player is controlled using the mouse ... and I use
the term controlled loosely. The accuracy of control in Pool Shark
is terrible. It took me almost an hour to properly sink a practice
shot using the right angle and amount of force that the tutorial
instructed me to use. Since the game is played, as in real pool,
with no gauges, you have to eyeball the angles and force you
exert on the cue ball. Should you get good at this though, the one
outstanding feature of Pool Shark is the variety of the gameplay.
There are four main game types: Quick Start, Hustle, Match and
Tournament. Subdivided into these categories are numerous
different game configurations and styles that add more/less
difficulty to the game for the novice/expert player.
Were the controls simpler to master, Pool Shark would
probably be one of the better PC recreational sport games.
However, when you get a bunch of your friends together and you
all suck with the mouse, the game can actually be entertaining.