A shining example
Prepare to be blown away by the graphics the first time you play a game of Hustle Kings. They are incredibly realistic, from the texture of the baize, to the reflections of the stylish bar environments on the surface of the balls when you zoom in.
The way the balls behave is also staggeringly close to real life. Spin, swerve and jump shots can all be played just as you would in your local pool hall, and you can even use more subtle techniques, such as applying topspin to an object ball by playing the cue ball with lots of backspin, and vice versa.
While you might not be brave enough to try the more advanced shots initially, the computer-controlled opposition has no such worries. When playing the hardest difficulty, at times, you'll find yourself sitting back and admiring the extravagant shots your opponents pull off.
While you're watching your opponent play, it's good to have some tunes in the background. Not only does Hustle Kings feature its own soundtrack, you can also access your own music collection via the XMB™ (XrossMediaBar). You can even record replays of individual shots or entire matches and upload them to YouTube from the in-game menu.
Like pool in real life, Hustle Kings is easy to pick up and play, and a great challenge to truly master. Using the left stick to control aim and cue elevation, the right stick to choose where to strike the cue ball and the L2 and R2 buttons to adjust the power of the shot, the entire spectrum of pool strokes can be played quickly and simply.
To help you aim, a pair of lines shows where the object ball and cue ball will travel after contact. The harder the difficulty level, the shorter these lines will be - you can even turn them off completely if your aim is good enough.
When you're happy with the shot, there are two control methods for executing it: analog or skill meter. If using analog, move the right stick backwards and forwards to play the stroke, and when using the skill meter method, you must stop the power bar at exactly the right point to get a perfect result. With either method, the more difficult the shot, the harder it is to hit accurately; for extra help, you can purchase special chalk that extends the aiming lines or increases accuracy, depending on the type you choose.
Career is the primary single player mode and it lets you earn Hustle King Credits for online multiplayer while trying out the game's extensive list of modes and game types. You take on increasingly challenging opponents in eight-ball, nine-ball and many other pool variations, not to mention extra challenges such as trick shots and clear-up, where you have to pot every ball on the table in one break.
Online multiplayer is where you can pit your potting skills against the very best and boost your Hustle King Credits.
You can either select Quick Game, with no credits at stake, or you can enter a Hustle Room and bet your wealth against its other occupants. Matches are easy to set up - just select any player whose name is green and choose how much you would like to bet, or wait for someone to challenge you. To help you decide who to play, each player's previous ten results in that room are displayed along with the number of credits they have.
If you'd rather save your credits, you can go for a ranked room, where it's ranking points and leaderboard places at stake. If you have friends coming over, then you can also play all of the game types in offline multiplayer.