|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Sports||Cherry Pop||13/10/2016||PlayStation 4||PSN|
When it comes to big purchases I’m the kind of person who needs to sit down, figure out the feasibility, the cost, if what I’m looking to buy is really worth it and even go as far as to draw up a pros and cons list. I know… I’m a super fun guy right? So with the PlayStation VR my system was no different and while I certainly had my reserves about throwing down over £300 on something that I had little experience with, I eventually came around and bought the device. It has to be worth it I kept telling myself. Surely all this buzz wasn’t just hot air?
So the day finally arrived this past Thursday and along with it a small handful of titles to truly put the device through its paces. While RIGS certainly impressed back at Gamescom last August and Until Dawn looked set to 100% break me out into a cold sweat, it was the stealth release Sports Bar VR that I was secretly eager to jump into most. From the same team that bought you Pool Nation (a genuinely excellent pool game that was as polished as it was additive), Sports Bar VR does pretty much what you expect as far as a VR pool game might do but also throws in a few pleasant surprises along the way too.
While other pool or snooker titles might restrict things purely to the table itself, Sports Bar gives you the entire pool hall experience. Using the PlayStation Move controllers you’re able to teleport around a virtual bar complete with pool tables, dartboards, skeeball, air hockey… and of course a bar. And yes you can play all of them, they aren’t just for show.
What is particularly amazing about this entire package is that every pastime works as expected. Pool feels intuitive and offers the main match types including 8-ball, 9-ball, killer and 3-ball. Skeeball is addictive, silliness where landing a 100 point shot feels just as good as it does in real life. Air hockey meanwhile might well be the best representation of the arcade classic I’ve witnessed in video game form to date. Sure I could complain about the rare times when the Move controllers go haywire and lose tracking, but those aren’t really the game’s fault and are so few and far between they’re never a nuisance. The PlayStation VR headset meanwhile works brilliantly and does a great job of tricking your eyes and brain into thinking you’re playing on real pool and air hockey tables. If you get a chance check out the Ronnie O’Sullivan video where he falls on his face, don’t think it’s a put on, I’ve very nearly managed to do that myself!
Of course if you want a break from the competitive side of things you can choose to throw bottles, dice, coasters and work the bar itself. I must admit I managed to spend a good half hour just messing with the physics in the game stacking up bottles and beer mats into towers to then throw pool balls at and knock down. While Sports Bar VR is fantastic fun and accurate enough when playing seriously, it’s truly at its best when you’re just being stupid and causing a mess.
As I mentioned before, the VR itself really does add a genuinely brilliant level of immersion to the mix, giving the illusion you are indeed walking through a rather classy bar. There are people working behind the bar, soft music playing in the background and the distant chitter chatter you’d normally expect to find in such an environment.
While you’re free to simply play against the computer at your chosen event, the game also offers online options too and its here where things get super weird. You and up to five others can all freely move around the bar playing darts, pool or well… anything in fact or if you prefer just stand around and chat. While you could argue, this sort of thing is nothing new in online gaming, it’s the fact that these other players now appear in real time with their actual movements (everyone appears as a floating VR headset with hands). A highlight so far has been entering a room only to be greeted to five other players turning to me and waving. It’s something that just feels that much more real and takes above and beyond anything you would experience with a normal pool simulation. It’s that level of communication and interaction that really helps make you believe you and these other strangers are in this virtual bar.
It appears the developers aren’t done with the game yet, promising plenty more updates in the future. These will include chess, checkers and shuffleboard, all of which sound like a perfect fit for the wacky world of Sports Bar VR. Fingers crossed they throw in ten pin bowling too…
Sports Bar VR may not be the biggest game with the highest budget. It may not even be the most ambitious. However what it does, it does to such an incredibly high level. After a countless hours spent inside my fictional bar, I wouldn’t ever want to go back to a regular snooker or pool title again. Anything less would just seem like a step back. People ask if VR is the future of gaming. No. Course not, but if it can deliver amazing experiences like this then it will certainly make an excellent addition to any gamer’s line-up.
If you gambled with the PlayStation VR then definitely look at picking this little title up. You may never need to go to a real pool hall again!
- Super immersive
- Everything feels as it should
- Only £15
- Not explained in a clear manner
- PlayStation Move can sometimes go weird