If you dislike shady, smoke-filled barrooms and the idea of pool sharks nibbling away at the few dollars in your wallet scares you, then it’s time to take to take your pool game on the road in Rack ‘Em Up Road Trip.
This enjoyable pool game by Garage Games and Oberon Games features Snooker, UK Eight Ball, Eight Ball (a.k.a. Stripes & Solids or High & Low), Nine Ball, Three Ball and 14.1 Continuous matches.
You can jump right into the action with Quickmatch, take on a live or online opponent in the Multiplayer mode or go on a city skipping Road Tour across the US to win elimination matches against cartoon characters with names like Astrid Wellington and Hendricks Muttenfeld.
Using an overhead view of the table, shots are lined from using the mouse, a power meter and optional English (a.k.a. spin) to help place the cue ball after the shot. Guidance arrows can also be toggled on to show the direction the target and cue ball will travel based on all yours settings to help make perfect shots.
You can select the computer opponent’s skill level, number of games for a win (one, 2 out of 3, 3 out of 5, etc.) and in some modes, the table, balls and stick you use. If you get a little confused, the Rules are always accessible.
Road Trip has good looking graphics with realistically shiny balls, shadows and scuffed tables, sticking to an overhead view which works well for watching balls bounce across the table. As you progress through the Road Tour, you unlock additional tables, sticks and ball sets you can use in Quickmatch games to help change the scene.
Early computer opponents are pretty lousy, sinking only a shot or two at a time, so portions of the road Tour will seem a bit easy until you play against Pro or Semi-Pro players in 14.1 Continuous games. Then they can line up some seemingly ridiculous multiball shots or leave you with an impossible cue ball placement, forcing you to up your game or spend a bit more time – and fun – perfecting your multiball shots in the Quickmatch mode.
The game’s only annoyances are that you cannot save in the middle of a match, which is most frustrating in the potentially lengthy 14.1 Continuous games, though it will pick up from the most recently won match within a city in the Road Tour mode. After several days of checking I couldn’t find one online player. Since the online mode only allows three types of games – Snooker, Eight or Nine Ball – I wasn’t really missing much, instead spending several hours playing all six game types on the Road Tour and in Quickmatches.
Road Trip also features a surprisingly good soundtrack with a groovy guitar traveling tune on the Road Tour map and groovy barroom jazz during matches to help keep the mood true and atmosphere light. It’s only missing a bit of background laughter, which you will be providing when playing against a friend.
Road Trip is easy to learn and fun to play for many hours even against increasingly difficult computer opponents. The shooting system, especially when paired with the guidance arrows, is intuitive enough to make the easy-to-follow tutorial hardly necessary even for those new to computer pool games.