In the splurge of games EA released on the App Store last week, there were bound to be a couple of odds and ends that got mixed in with the heavy hitters. Little did we expect the best of these to be a pool game. Anytime Pool is more than just another game of billiards–its excellent presentation, stellar controls and unique features make it the best pool offering on the iPhone.
Checking the angles.
Everything about this game has been crafted to produce the smoothest play experience possible. The layout is very clear, and the controls work like a charm. Such features as zooming in on specific balls, choosing where the cue hits the ball, and making a pop or swerve shot are easy to use. The game’s three difficulty levels offer different amounts of assistance for aiming–easy displays multiple ricochets, medium offers just one and hard shows none at all. The system stretches to fit players of any skill level.
Anytime Pool packs three different pool variants to conquer: UK 8 Ball, US 8 Ball, and US 9 Ball. For those who don’t know much about pool, the two 8 Ball games are tweaked versions of classic pool and 9 Ball has you hitting all of the balls into the pockets in numerical order–the player who sinks the 9 ball first wins. Anytime Pool also features a unique set of challenge set-ups. In these, you must follow specific guidelines to succeed, such as only hitting a specific color ball. We really enjoyed the creativity and puzzle-like feel of these challenges.
The game’s multiplayer mode also adds a lot of value. Not only does it have standard pass and play, but cross-platform play between the iPhone and Facebook also is possible. When you open the game, it steps you through how to pair your Facebook page and iPhone via the Anytime Pool ‘app’ on Facebook. After you do this, your Facebook profile picture show ups as your player and you can play against all of your friends in turn-based matchups.
Anytime Pool also comes fully equipped with plenty of single player material. The main attraction is the game’s ‘World Tour,’ a collection of 16 pool matches and challenges against various CPU players. After each match you are given a rank, which you can raise later by challenging the player to a rematch. While the World Tour may sound more like a collection of quick matches on the surface, there is tons of depth in the customized strengths and weaknesses of each player.
Anytime Pool not only plays and looks great, but it also sounds great, thanks to some fantastic ambient effects. There’s an overlay of lively chatter in the background that gives the game a distinct pub-like feel. You’ll occasionally hear some guy hooting with laughter at some unheard joke. It’s a great touch.
If we had to pinpoint one issue with the game, it would be that instead of seeing the ball fall into the pocket, it just disappears. While this did not hurt the experience too much, it definitely seemed lazy and took away some of the satisfaction of making the perfect shot.
All in all, Anytime Pool is impressive. Its nearly flawless gameplay, superior Facebook integration and practically unlimited replay value make it a ‘Must Have’ in our book.