Pool Star
| Pool Star

Pool is one of those weird activities. Get down your local with a few pals, have a few drinks, crowd around a pool table, and a fantastic, fun-filled night will be had by all. Until someone who can't handle their drink decides to try and trick shot and rips the baize to shreds, of course.

But unlike snooker, which is still watched by millions on terrestrial TV, professional pool has never really taken off in the UK, despite its obvious accessibility when compared to the slow, sometimes dull nature of a snooker match featuring players who share more in common with androids than humans.

Pool Star, surprisingly enough, isn't concerned with snooker. There are four separate varieties of ball potting goodness here, from Straight Pool, to 9-ball, and both UK and US versions of 8-ball.

Luckily for those who wouldn't consider themselves pool aficionados, there's a run-down of the rules for every variety on offer, enabling you to bone up accordingly before you give each a try.

And don't just expect simple pool-based potting in boring old random one-on-one match-ups. For starters, there's both Career and Pro Tour modes that see you face off the best in the business in order to test your mettle.

More exotic, however, is Survival. An intriguing mode, it offers both Trick Shots and the aptly titled Time Challenge, that rewards you for the ability to sink balls at speed.

Lining up a shot is a breeze, with a camera that can be flung anywhere around the table to make things beautifully straightforward. The handy little markers that show you where balls are expected to end up once you've struck the cue ball are an extra bonus, making sinking those spots and stripes all the simpler.

Thankfully, while the digital nature of a mobile handset control could have made lining up shots a real bore, three separate speed settings available on the fly mean you get to line up the exact shot you wish.

Once it's all ready, it's just a case of setting the strength of your shot, the amount of spin to put on the ball, and away you go. The nifty physics engine ensures every ball moves exactly where and how you'd expect, which is more than can be said for other pool and snooker titles.

Pool Star doesn't quite have everything its own way, mind. Visually, everything is nice and clean, but it lacks the extra level of sparkle that separates the best from the rest. Equally slightly disappointing is the limited number of opponents available to try and thrash.

But the game isn't about to leave without a fight, either. Multiplayer is a nice addition above the likes of World Pool Championship 2007, meaning that a pair of you on the train to work can liven up your journey and frantically try and put each other off as you share a handset.

It might not be as polished as some, then, but Pool Star is a rather good stab at the genre. True, there isn't much in the way of novel additions, but it's certainly a very enjoyable sports title; one you'll spend some quality time with. And there's no risk of ripping the baize here. Or getting a cue broken over the head.

Pool Star

Pool-based goodness, without the drunken louts