World of Pool
World of Pool really does try to fit the whole world of pool in. It's got a hefty range of game types, including snooker and billiards, as well as 9-ball pool, UK and US 8-ball, and even pub rules. It's got a practice mode, arcade mode, exhibition matches and tournaments, and even, in a bid to capture the sleazy glamour of the pool circuit, a section where you can kit out your 'crib'. The real substance of the game is to be found in the World Tour mode, however, which is where you create a character, picking out his appearance, and working your way through tournaments and matches to unlock new bits and bobs for your crib.
Where the game really falls down is on the baize. Fundamentally, the pool itself - and the snooker, and the billiards - is so badly implemented that the game is no fun to play. Aiming is squirrelly and over-sensitive. It's difficult to aim where you want to because a tiny nudge on the analog nub will send your aim careering wildly across the table. A simple corner pot will see you desperately trying to line it up without overshooting, but failing miserably and having to start again from the other side. If it's a long pot, it'll also be a struggle just to see where you're aiming because the camera will do its best to give you the crappiest view of proceedings - including an overhead view that reduces the balls to pinpricks.
Judging the weight of your shots is just as bafflingly oversensitive, and you'll spend ages trying to caress the nub back to generate a moderate amount of power before you'll inevitably give up and subject yourself to its haphazard waywardness. Frankly, it doesn't feel finished, and no amount of furniture in your crib is enough to compensate.
- Publisher: Ghostlight
- Developer: Icon Games
Take Super Monkey Ball and remove the monkeys. Replace the cutesy cheer with generic sci-fi stylings. Throw in a bit of damage to your now monkey-less ball whenever it hits something. Chuck in a few overcomplicated, convoluted mazes that lack the crisp polish and simple but challenging charms of Monkey Ball. Make these mazes difficult to navigate because of the rubbish camera controls. Voila. You're now left with Spinout. It's a game in which you steer a ball around successive mazes, trying not to fall off the edge or hit too many obstacles.
To reiterate: you steer a ball. Unlike Super Monkey Ball, in Spinout you control the ball and not the maze. You control that ball across an arcade mode that features an OutRun-style forking path, or a career mode that sees you completing batches of races to unlock further batches. In addition to those two main modes there's also a time trial mode, three multiplayer games and a disappointing bowling mini-game. Instead of aiming from a static position and determining the power of your throw before applying aftertouch, which is what you do in just about every other bowling game ever, Spinout's bowling sees you launch yourself down a ramp and hope you hit the pins. The steering and aiming are consequently less precise and the game feels more random.
And that sums up Spinout. By controlling the ball and not the maze, the game is instantly rendered much less interesting than Super Monkey Ball. It gets rid of the feather-light nuance of Super Monkey Ball's control system, and replaces it with a more clumsy and conventional platform game mechanic. That's fine, as far as it goes, it's just it never really feels like it goes far enough.