CTIA 2005: Midnight Pool 3D Hands-On

We took a look at this 3D version of Midnight Pool at CTIA 2005.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Midnight Pool 3D plays a lot like its excellent two-dimensional predecessor but features new characters and a great-looking polygonal graphics engine. Based on our experience with the LG VX8000 build, we'd be hard-pressed to find a reason why Midnight Pool 3D wouldn't be ready for prime time.

You play as one of two billiards hopefuls (although many more characters are unlockable) and compete in a ladder tournament that extends over pool halls throughout the US. The male character is John, a studly, young sheriff who stares down the cue through fashionable aviator sunglasses. He looks a bit like Johnny Knoxville. Then there's Alison, who's an accomplished biologist. Despite her education and scientific credentials, it's clear she's a floozy. (There always has to be one in character-driven Gameloft games.) Her biographical text reads that she's "very popular with the guys." This is probably because she flirts in between rounds. In a nice touch, Midnight Pool's female players use a bridge, while the male players are content to strain themselves to preserve their machismo.

Three gametypes are available--8 Ball US, 8 Ball UK, and 9 Ball. These play just as you'd expect, and the AI challenge is roughly equal on all three. If you win a round, you'll have a chance to bank extra cash by sinking a trick shot. The goal, of course, is to win fame and fortune by triumphing in increasingly difficult match-ups.

Each shot in Midnight Pool 3D is highlighted in several cinematic angles. The result looks great, and adds to the tension as you wait for ball english to slowly turn the cue in the desired direction. The player models and environments don't really match up to the Franco-manga look of Midnight Pool 2D, but they're excellent in their own right, and are definitely worthy of the Gameloft brand.

Gameloft seems to be licensing one popular song per game these days. For Midnight Pool, that's "Sweet Home Alabama" once again. This sounds as good as ever. In-game, you'll hear short vocal clips from the competitors.

Midnight Pool 3D looks like a very worthy adaptation of the original game. The game hasn't been thrust into the third dimension like a 12-year-old WASP into boarding school. It instead seems like Midnight Pool was lovingly coaxed, urged, and cajoled into three-dimensionality until it swelled up, developing depth of its own accord.

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