By Daniel Lipscombe
Everyone loves Billiards, yes you do, don’t try denying it. We’ve all professed at being terrible at pool before swallowing a few jugs of ale and picking up the cue, chalking the tip whilst lining up the simplest shot, muttering something about how John Virgo is a noob. The same principle goes for videogame pool too, everyone loves a pool game and Hustle Kings has come along to fill a long empty void on PSN for a decent pool game.
Quite an easy one to figure out, but Hustle Kings is all about billiards games, 8 Ball, 9 Ball, trick shots, tournaments, everything is included here and this game is bubbling over with things to do. Starting with a career mode that sees you taking on various opponents in different games for HKC (Hustle Kings Credits). One person may challenge you to a game of 8 Ball and the next may set up a trick shot for you to master before you can claim your lovely money.
It’s a pretty simple affair that is boosted by being able to purchase different types of balls, cues and even chalks. In fact you can actually buy chalks that help you play your shots, with real life money, that’s right 20 pence will buy a chalk to help you make longer shots or many other things. You can use your HKC in this way if you choose or you can place wagers on your matches and try to build vast piles of cash to help buy those top upgrades. This cash is needed for your online domination too; this is ‘Hustle’ Kings after all.
It’s in the online integration that the concept of the game really takes hold, by entering the ‘rooms’ and placing your cash on the line against real life players. Bet too much and it may be seen as showing your experience, meaning you can’t ‘hustle’ anybody, bet too little and never be taken seriously. A very rewarding system that gives you the thrill of winning and gets your adrenaline surging, if you’re any good of course.
Hustle Kings seems to have the whole package, the visuals are crisp and the light plays off of the balls and cloth well giving the whole game a sense of atmosphere. The actual game mechanics are intuitive too, moving your cue around and taking your shot is simple and easy to pick, adding backspin is as simple as moving a thumbstick, similarly to adding curves or jumping balls.
There are a few hiccups along the way however. Personally I am someone who always plays in the top down view, which is not the default here. You can easily change it with the press of a button; however it would have been nice for an option to make it the default, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who plays this way. Another issue for me is the music, which is a horrendous drone of Nu-Jazz stylings, after a short period it’s enough to make you tear your hair out, luckily there is an option of listening to your own music on your hard drive.
These are the only stumbling blocks in what is a genuinely great pool game, something that was sorely needed on the PS3. With an extensive single player mode, great online modes, even youtube integration meaning you can instantly upload your best shots to the internet; Hustle Kings is a complete pool hall package. The only thing missing is the smell of stale beer and the choking smoke.