Billiards is another of Agetec's value-priced software releases for the PlayStation. As evidenced by its no-nonsense title, Billiards is a 3D pool-hall simulation, and it features such varied modes of play as nine ball, eight ball, bowlliards, and rotation. All of the classic modes are true to the rules of their real-life counterparts and play relatively close to the real thing. You shouldn't expect a flashy presentation from Billiards, but sadly, you won't receive much enjoyment, either.
Billiards includes a number of different modes of play and other options that, while well intentioned, are unimpressive in execution. For example, you can select a CPU opponent represented by a cartoon caricature for the single-player games. This opponent's text window will utter a challenge in an introductory screen, but during the game, your foe is absolutely silent. You can unlock new opponents, but they all remain entirely lifeless, so there really isn't any reason to do so. There are three tables to choose from, each in a different locale, such as a bar where the backdrop includes paintings and a full liquor display. The environments are flat textures, however--the only polygons in this game are used to represent the cue and balls. The included trick-shot mode lets you master 18 different trick shots, including fancy bank shots and multipocket combinations. The ability to watch the computer's example of how to successfully complete the trick is nice, and after a certain amount of practice, making these shots can become second nature and rather satisfying. The background music is fairly entertaining in some areas, particularly the jazzy piano in the trick-shot game, but the tunes eventually become horribly repetitive.
Getting a good view of the table is crucial in a billiards game, and despite the many camera controls in Billiards, the only way to get a passable look at the table is to use the game's full-screen overhead view, which is functional but unattractive. The inability to properly view the entire table will make playing complete games a thoroughly frustrating affair. The developers behind Billiards were clearly aware of the visibility problems, because they included a command for changing all the ball graphics to large numbers. This would have been a perfect remedy for the problem, if overlapping balls didn't keep it from working half the time.
Another problem many players will have with Billiards is the nonintuitive, clunky control scheme. Billiards lets you use either the standard-line or a relatively well-done ghost-ball tracking system for lining up shots. The precise control over the cue ball and realistic physics ensure that if you miss a shot, it was because you lined it up poorly. Sorely lacking in the otherwise solid control, however, is analog support for the Dual Shock controller. Not being able to smoothly pan the camera in and out or position the cue ball when in hand is a major annoyance, to say the least.
Despite the game-design flaws in Billiards, it is an affordable title that may competently entertain the casual game player. The difficult camera takes getting used to, but all things considered, Billiards is a fairly accurate simulation of a game that has rarely translated well to video game consoles. For most billiards enthusiasts, however, the money spent on this game would be better spent playing a real game of pool.