Virtual reality (VR) can do a great many things for videogames. It brings brand new opportunities to create innovative new gameplay, but also allows for familiar experiences to take on a new form. Hustle Kings VR is most certainly the latter: it brings the previously established Hustle Kings gameplay into the new medium on PlayStation VR.
So that’s great, right? Pool fans can experience the act of playing virtual pool in an entirely new way. Except, there already is a videogame that does this – Pool Nation VR – and from that which VRFocus has experienced, Hustle Kings VR is a much more ordinary take on the experience of playing pool in VR.
Hustle Kings VR, in the demonstration version VRFocus got hands-on with, was a replica of Hustle Kings with the added degree of immersion granted by cutting the player off from their surroundings and offering 360 degree headlook. The videogame was played with a DualShock 4 controller (PlayStation Move compatibility has been confirmed, but was not demonstrated) shots were lined-up and executed with a combination of analog stick movement and face button presses and the AI opponent’s shot could be skipped to quickly get you back into the action.
However, outside of this, Hustle Kings VR is a lifeless interpretation of pool in VR. There’s no option to explore the environment, no avatar customisation and even no avatar for your opponent. It is the exact same recreation of pool that you can experience without that expensive PlayStation VR head-mounted display (HMD).
Some may argue that Hustle Kings VR is simply fulfilling its remit – there is technically nothing wrong with the videogame – but in VRFocus’ opinion it’s entirely missing the point of VR. Pool Nation VR offers so much more depth – the sensation of being in a different location, social gameplay design, mini-games relating to other bar sports – and does it for almost the same retail price (Pool Nation VR currently sits at £14.99 GBP on Steam, while Hustle Kings VR will launch as a digital and retail release for PlayStation VR with a suggested retail price (SRP) of £15.99).
There’s still room for Hustle Kings VR to impress of course; there’s only so much of a title that can be experienced in a limited vertical slice on a show floor. However, with Pool Nation VR also targeting PlayStation VR launch the only thing it currently has in its favour is the volume of fans following the franchise. Whether or not the audience of Hustle Kings will align with early adopters of PlayStation VR is a question that won’t be answered until after 13th October 2016.