Developer Celeris has been making Virtual Pool games for years now, and while the lion's share of them have been PC titles, the Virtual Pool series has made its way to consoles from time to time. Virtual Pool: Tournament Edition is the latest game in the series. It's pool, it's on the Xbox, and it's $15. What more could billiards fans ask for, right? Well, for starters, they could probably ask for a game with more to offer in the features category, as well as a game that let you play more than one type of pool in its career mode. This certainly isn't a bad game of pool, but it lives up to few expectations beyond what its meager price tag would suggest.
Eighteen pool variations are featured in Virtual Pool: Tournament Edition, ranging from simple 8-ball, snooker, and 6-ball games, to more esoteric types, like bowliards, Honolulu, cribbage, cowboy, and one pocket. You can play any of these types of games in Virtual Pool's quick play mode, as well as a trick shot mode. Unfortunately, the trick shot mode isn't very good, since you must choose from a static list of trick shots with no explanation of how you're supposed to pull them off. However, before you can do any of this, you have to create a player profile, where you select what difficulty level you want and what your favored game of pool is. What's odd is that once you select these two things, you can't change them without starting over. You have to create an entirely new profile if you want to change the difficulty level or your favored pool game. While you can still play any game of pool you want in quick match, you can't in the career mode. Whichever game you choose at the outset is the game you'll be playing over and over throughout the career.
The career mode would have benefited greatly from a bit of gameplay variety. With 18 different available games in Virtual Pool, limiting the mode you'll be spending the most time in to a single game seems ludicrous, especially considering that the career mode is a series of one-off matches against random guys who play for cash. You start out in a seedy garage bar, with only a few bucks in your pocket and a couple of opponents who are willing to bet against you. Play a few games, earn some cash, and then you can bet against the boss of the pool hall. Beating him unlocks a new hall. Repeat several more times until you get through all six pool halls and to the last boss, and then you're done. In between games, you can browse the cue shop for new cues that will, among other things, improve your speed for better breaks, create better jump shots, and improve your standings with your opponent players, impressing them and making them want to bet more. It's a neat idea, but it feels more like a silly distraction than anything meaningful to the mode itself or to the gameplay, and generally, you're better off saving your money.