The Hustle: Detroit Streets is the best pool game available for the PSP. Though, that is true only because it's the only pool game available for the PSP. Still, The Hustle isn't a bad game of billiards on its own merits. Developer Blade Interactive has had some experience with the game of pool, as it has developed a couple of console and PC pool and snooker titles in the past. With The Hustle, Blade has eschewed the standard tournament style of play in favor of a grittier, slicker style of game. Here you'll play as a pool hustler, down on his or her luck, working your way through the seedy pool halls of Detroit, trying to regain your bankroll and your rep. Unfortunately, the whole story aspect is just kind of stupid, and it just gets in the way of the best parts--namely, the pool itself. It's also a tough game to sit through at some moments, as the load times and transitions between shots take what feels like an eternity. But if you can look past these admittedly serious faults, you might find The Hustle to be a game worth looking at.
When you first boot up The Hustle, you quickly toss together a basic profile and character to represent yourself. There's some backstory here about your character's rise and fall from grace, but it's all meaningless filler. It's just an excuse to put you on track to play a lot of pool against a lot of seedy characters. You don't have to work especially hard to make that happen. Just plop yourself down in the first available pool hall and start challenging and accepting challenges from the roustabouts that occupy the building. You start out with only a few available challengers, and as you win more money and earn more respect (which is actually measured via a numbered percentage), more opportunities will open up.
It'll take a long time for that to happen, however. While you do eventually move on and periodically go up against some boss opponents, it's likely that most people will get a distinct sense of going nowhere fast for the first few hours of play. You'll challenge the same guys over and over and over again, play a lot of the same pool games to boot, and you'll wonder where the hell this is all going. A more obvious way of measuring your progress would have been greatly helpful to counteract this feeling. It's also of note that The Hustle is a tough game to just pick up and play. There isn't really a quick-play option to speak of. You can jump into the story mode and play friendly matches against some opponents for no cash, but even there the number of games you can actually play is limited. There are a ton of different pool games and trick shots available, but it takes a painfully long time to actually be able to play any of them whenever you like.
The saving grace here is the pool itself, which is handled surprisingly well. At first glance, the control scheme seems woefully awkward, but after a few plays, it becomes second nature. Instead of doing the standard console pool mechanic of making the analog stick directly emulate the movement of the stick for a shot (you can do that here, but the analog stick sensitivity is ridiculously hard to deal with), all you have to do is angle your shot with the directional pad, then pull backward on the analog stick to get a sense of how much power you want for the shot. Once you do, a meter will pop up on the screen. In it, an arrow icon will move up and down, and in the middle of the meter sits a white zone that represents an accurate shot. You want to try to stop the arrow in the white zone, which shrinks in size depending on how hard the shot is. It's tricky, but it works. If you do it right, the game will cut to a quick scene of your character lining up his or her shot, and then taking it. Despite it taking the action out of your hands, you still feel like you pulled it off yourself.