You might enjoy shooting a game of pool against your friends, but wait until you get a load of guys like Apollo Wozlowski, Rafferty McDougall and Hendricks Muttenfeld.

You’ll soon have an opportunity to meet these colorful characters in Rack ‘Em Up Road Trip, a fun and accessible billiards simulation from Garage and Oberon Games.

This slick pool game is divided into three main modes. The simplest one is a quick game against the computer-controlled opponents, in a number of popular games, such as Eight Ball (a.k.a. Stripes & Solids or Boston), Nine Ball, Snooker, Three Ball, U.K. Eight Ball or 14.1 Cont. Before you break, you can choose the skill level of your opponent and how many games to play (such as “Best of 3”).

The second type is a multiplayer game, where you can hook up with other Rack ‘Em Up Road Trip players via the Net and play head-to-head in games such as Eight Ball, Nine Ball and Snooker. Here you can also play a Hot Seat mode for two players taking turns on the same PC.

The third mode is the Road Trip, where you play in various tournaments throughout the U.S., beginning in Minneapolis and finishing up in Las Vegas. A Trophy Room lets you proudly display your accolades, which you can access from the main menu.

Gamers can brush on up the rules for each game at any time, or choose to enable or disable other helpful aids, such as an arrow that shows the direction your ball will travel to if you hit it on a given angle.

Similar to past PC pool games, the mouse is used as your cue. You first decide which ball to hit (and depending on the game you may need to call the pocket). And once you line up your shot, you click the mouse and drag the bar left or right to select the amount of force to be used. You can also choose where on the white ball to strike if you want it give your shot some “English” (spin). For example, aiming lower on the ball will cause it to spin backwards after it connects with a colored ball. If you sink a ball, you continue working the table until you miss the pocket or foul. And then it’s your opponent’s turn, and so on and so forth.

Once you rack up enough points by playing well, you can unlock some goodies in the game such as new cues, bonus ball designs and extra table styles.

We loved the preview build of Rack ‘Em Up Road Trip, and found the game to be easy to pick up and play regardless of the gamer’s skill level, but it would be remiss not to mention two minor issues. One is the fact you cannot save the game in the middle of a match; if you need to leave the game so you can run an errand, you’ll have to start from the beginning of the match instead of picking up where you left off. Second, while the top-down view is clean and simple, past PC pool products gave players multiple 3-D angles in which to enjoy the game (including cool “ball cam” shots) so it’s too bad you can’t toggle the perspective here at all.

Overall, however, Rack ‘Em Up Road Trip offers a ton of depth, dozens of hours of game-play for one or two players and looks to be a refreshingly different “casual” game that will surely stand out among the many gem-swapping puzzle downloads dominating today’s scene.

Rack ’em up!