It is very easy when you review an Xbox Live Arcade game to compare it to some of the modern day equivalents, but then you remember that not always are the games trying to compete in the same way a true next generation title would. Instead pure gameplay, a term maybe overused recently and is probably truer of the much older retro games that came to gaming all those years ago on such systems as the Atari and Commodore.
Xbox Live Arcade however is bringing a whole new era to the retro and even more modern variations of classics. Bankshot Billiards 2 is a traditional top down view of pool, more alike to variations of pool that appeared on Yahoo! Games. Although the graphics are not bad at all, everything you need is there, the game has been criticised.
For one, the game at launch is the most expensive of the line up, although as it is online multiplayer for those with a Xbox Live Gold Account. This means you will have far more fun playing against your friends rather than against the computer opponent.
Once you get on the way, the game is pure sit back and enjoy fun with a refreshing drink in one hand and your wireless controller in the other. There are many variations of pool available such as 8-ball, 9-ball and the European variety. However some of the rules seem to be rather different to those I remember playing in the pub with the lads. This seems more apparent in the European rules where you think you made a foul and after the shock you realise it is still your go. Puzzling to say the least. Other than the normal pool there are other modes such as the interesting trick shots, cutthroat, 14.1 continuous, 3-ball, time trial and golf. These add extra incentive to spend more time on the game, however the meat of the game is in its traditional pool variations.
The balls do seem to react like they would in a real pool game, even if they seem to roll a little too far at times. Getting used to the control method is a little time consuming though as what you expect to happen on screen doesn’t actually reflect from the movement of the analogue sticks. The pockets do suffer from the ‘magnet’ effect, by this I mean the balls seem to be dragged into the pocket rather than rolling in.
You can customise things like the background, but don’t expect too much from this as the game is graphically enough to please but not a masterpiece of art. In other words it does the job but maybe more time should have been spent with the paint brush here and there.
A satisfying top down version of pool, but with quite a few niggles. The rules seem a little obscure at times, but with a friend or two you can have oodles of online happiness, which makes even the cost of this game worthwhile in the long run.