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Submitted by Derek dela Fuente on April 6 2004 - 00:00

Archer Maclean returns with surprise, surprise, another pool simulator...

The maestro of the green baize, in terms of creating a snooker or pool game, is Archer Maclean. Having been around since day one on the gaming scene, and creating a number of classics, which include Snooker titles, some might say that this kind of game hasnâ??t really moved on that much in the last few years and there is nothing more that the wizard of the small round balls can reinvent or improve on. A good pool games isnâ??t always about being innovative, it could be about creating a pixel perfect, and physics accurate, stylish presentation that has endless hours of fun and a compelling challenge led game. Granted we have had a number of great Pool and Snooker games delivered over the last 18 months but none that has offered the full to bursting, slick and canâ??t believe it is that good, definitive genre leader.

A number of Pool and Snooker games have had great looks, some with great physics, other with brilliant controls, whilst a few have actually had great sub games, full endorsement and input from a professional player, but none has had the lot. Could Pool Paradise offer this and more?

The creation of Pool Paradise has had the added input of Jimmy White, the peopleâ??s favourite, and those in the know, know that Archer and Jimmy have spent many hours together in the search for perfection on the PC and console.

The game starts by being shunted to a Tropical island of sand and sun - but to the player, indoor rooms. Inside these airy looking huts, youâ??ve guessed it Pool tables, which include a practise table, along with crazy shaped tables. There is a dart board to play 501, 301 and â??round the clockâ??; as well as other fun sub games, such as Coconut Shy, Skeeball and DropZone (one of Archerâ??s arcade classic titles). Most of the sub games are initially locked and they can be unlocked by paying for them from some of your hard earned dosh! Yes, winning matches equates to grabbing money, which in turn will open up the sub games. To accentuate things you can actually place bets and visit a shop on the island to make purchases. You can even, can you believe it, purchase finer baizes! Yes folks, all the fun of the fair and served up on a cool looking tropical island.

Now many Pool player will be accustomed to the general rules of Pool, yes thatâ??s the small table in the pub, but there are loads of variants on a single theme and this includes 6, 9 and 10 ball Pool, which are all included! Most will also know that the balls can be distinguished by the numbers, colours or patterns! Hitting the wrong ball isnâ??t the way to win a pool challenge.

Read through the manual and you will find some new surprises on the theme, which are easy to understand with additions such as Killer, the object being to force your opponent to make an error and lose a set of lives, and with Rotation is all about scoring more points.

No matter what variant you pick it really is about choosing and manipulating your cue to the right angle and executing the perfect shot to get the ball in the pocket. The strength, + the angle of the shot, whilst considering where the cue ball will spot for the next shot, is what it is all about! Itâ??s not all about the present shot but looking towards the next one!

Surprisingly, the direction button and stick allow for great viewing of the table and picking the right angle, and of this simple task was not overly complicated, nor was actually hitting the ball. The mechanics to play the game were simple in the use of the controls and viewing of the table but needed skill and a good eye to master. Through a good few hours of play you get your â??eyeâ?? in and become pretty good. The physics in the game were almost transparent so nothing appeared wrong or out of synch. To be honest, Archerâ??s games have always been a joy to play and on this occasion the superb 3D graphics and the fluidity of play were top notch.

The challenges offered in terms of beating your opponents were well tapered; the more you play the better you get and winning some dosh and opening the sub games, which were equally enjoyable, really topped the experience.

With the rules and actions of Pool pretty straightforward, a lot of extra gloss to the game comes in the form of animation, and the sub games.

Everything appeared to be in order!

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  • Graphics: 86%
     
  • Sound: 71%
     
  • Gameplay: 84%
     
  • Originality: 78%
     
  • Longevity: 80%
     
Overall Score: 8/10
The only real problem we can foresee is if anyone expects more than just a great pool game with some extra goodies. The price point is, perhaps in this case, very very important for coming in at a mere £19:99 it offered real value for money. For those of you that don’t have a Pool game then we would say this is value for money!
Those who have a Pool game, but not one from the hands of Archer, then we would say, try this and compare. You may well see the difference in a few seconds!

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