A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about the sport of billiards in this pool simulation game. They'll have the opportunity to learn rules for a variety of game types ranging from nine-ball to snooker. They also can learn how to hit shots with spin and curve -- even jump shots and slip strokes, if they're patient -- and then apply this knowledge when they play pool in the real world. Kids will put to use and perhaps come to better understand some basic physics concepts, such as force, angle, and spin, as they strike and observe the outcomes of various types of shots. Pool Nation FX can help teach players about the sport of pool, though more advanced shooting techniques may prove too inaccessible for kids to learn much more than the basics.
Encourages social gaming with friends in the same room.
Positive Role Models
Computer opponents are represented by still images and names. They exhibit no traits, good or bad.
Ease of Play
Multiple difficulty levels let players choose skill of their computer opponents, how much assistance they'd like while aiming. Controls for anything beyond basic shots are non-intuitive, tricky, take some time to master.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pool Nation FX is a downloadable pool simulation game. It doesn't have any language, sexuality, illicit substance use, or violence. It encourages players to get together for a friendly, competitive, social gaming experience in the same room. There are no characters beyond the still images and names meant to represent computer opponents. Online play against strangers is permitted but without support for voice or text communication. Online games allow players to gamble but only with virtual currency.
Is It Any Good?
The good news is that Pool Nation FX gets the basics of billiards right. All the most popular pool games are represented, the ball physics are spot on, and players have plenty of control over their shots. With multiple skill levels and aiming assists, there are entry points for both rookies and pool veterans. Beginners can simply line up and whack away, hoping the cue ball ends up someplace useful, while more skilled players can carefully plan out ways to run the table after a break. It even looks pretty nice, thanks to detailed environments and imperfect polishing applied to balls to add realism.
That said, it's not very inspired. There's little here we haven't seen in previous pool games. Worse, the interface grows much more tricky should you decide you want to try shots that involve anything more complicated than adding a little spin. Add in overly long pre-game loading times and a confusing menu design bound to leave some players a bit baffled, and the result is something altogether lackluster. Hard-core pool enthusiasts may stick with it for the long haul, but for most others it will simply be a curiosity that fails to hold much interest after the first few games.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.