Time to polish your balls and run chalk on your cue (not the ones you are thinking of) and get down to some great gameplay. I am a huge fan of pool and have spent a number of hours, especially when I was younger, down the local pub, leaving my twenty pence on the side of the table so I could grab a game and play the winner. I occasionally placed a bet, sadly, I often lost. Now I have the pleasure of being able to play this great pastime and not lose my pocket money.
The most striking thing about Hustle Kings is how faithful to the PlayStation 3 version (available for free when you purchase this version) is. Obviously, the resolution has been cut down to cater for the PS Vita, but the gameplay is still there and it is a pretty decent equal of its big brother and this minor change is pretty much unnoticeable. The differences in backgrounds and scenery are a little more noticeable when you compare them to the PlayStation 3 HD version, but this hardly matters as all we really care about is the table. So let’s find out how good this game developed by Voodoo Studios really is shall we.
There are various game modes available as you would expect from a pool game. These range from your standard 8-ball right through to jumping trick shots (that drive you mad). All this combines with a ton of challenges and variety to the standard game of pool. You will find playing through the career mode great fun as you attempt to beat the various AI opponents and rise through the ranks to become the best pool player around. The controls are all adapted to make good use of the Vita’s features. I am still finding it a bit frustrating that every game I have played on the Vita forces you to use the touch pad, but I am growing to like it and actually I do find that it adds a bit more accuracy and enjoyment to the game.
While Hustle Kings ignores the use of the back touch pad, it does utilise the front touch controls to either keep your cue steady or simply to change the strength of that all-important shot. By default you have an aim line that gives you an idea where the ball will go when you take the shot. This can be fine-tuned by holding down the circle button and making use of the various viewing angles of the table that are available by using the right-bumper button. All these angles are great, apart from the actual ball-cam that I found actually hinders your view; I found myself rarely using this view and pretty much always using the top-down table camera angle. Also, you need to remember to use your chalk every now and again to make sure your cue doesn’t slip around when you are taking your shots. Eventually, as you start getting better and better, you might want to turn the aiming line off and make your gameplay a bit more realistic and challenging.
One thing I found great about Hustle Kings was that it actually teaches you about pool. There is an in-depth training area that teaches you everything from the basics right through to using top-spin to curve your shots or make those jump-shots. We also have multiplayer available where you can set up a room and play your friends or have an open room and allow any punter to come along and try and beat you. Every game you play also earns you in-game currency called HKC. This can be used to enter tournaments and buy things like new chalk, cues, cue balls and much more. This does add the challenge of beating harder players so you can buy the better stuff.
The music on offer various from jazz through to hip-hop, unfortunately it’s all pretty bad. Each genre of music only has one or two songs available. So if you choose to only listen to jazz you will soon start to get bored with the same song playing over and over again. There are many other in-game options you can change and it all adds to the enjoyment. I really enjoyed Hustle Kings as it’s a great game for those lazy days when you just want to relax. I even found myself playing while watching TV, it’s that kind of game. For the cost of a few drinks you can’t go wrong here. I love this game and I am sure if you are a pool fan you will too.
Rating 9/10 (Review scores explained).
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