Cue Online Preview: BREAK!
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Cue Online is an online billiard game from Games Campus, the company who has brought us games like Manga Fighter, Tank Ace, Shot Online and Asda Story. As the name suggests, you go head to head with other players in a series of billiard matches.
Cue Online goes past any attempt of putting players in a story mode to explain why they're in the game. What Cue Online does do is immediately thrust you in the center of the action by showing you the ropes in the form of a tutorial.
Tutorial Menu on the Right Side
After the tutorial, you are left to fend for yourself in the game. You can choose to either go with the rooms that were made by other players or create a room of your own. On creation, you can choose from four game modes that are based on real life pool games. They are namely 8-ball, 9-ball, 14-1 and snooker.
There are no customized Cue Online rules in the various game modes and if you forget the rules, the game's tutorial does provide a brief lecture (yes lecture) on the basics of each game. Actually it's a requirement to go through the mini-lecture on the rules of the game or you can't progress through the tutorial.
Bearing in mind that the game uses the F2P system, I expected that the game items (aside from the beginner items) have a usage limit, so I wasn't surprised when I saw that the different cue sticks, gloves, clothes and chalk have their usage limit. What surprised me was the presence of the chalk in the store.
In the many billiard games I've played (console mostly), there was never an inclusion of chalk in the game system. The only things players can control on those games were spin, power and angle. However, in real life pool there's another important component in the game, and that's the chalk. The chalk makes the tip of the cue stick less slippery so that it won't slip when it connects with the cue ball. So it was a surprising change for me that Cue Online had this important factor in the game.
Purchase various cues and other items
So aside from the chalk, you can purchase gloves, cue sticks, Cue Online Academies and even trophies. All of these items help boost your in-game stats and can be really helpful in your gameplay.
Stats!? STATS!? Yes, I did say that there are stats in the game. In fact you're not just a faceless dude who's trying to be the best billiard player in the game. In the game's character creation you get to choose from a roster of players who have their own strengths and weaknesses. You can associate the character types to the ones you can find in Pangya, however that's not the only thing that's present in terms of character growth.
Cue Online also incorporates a stat-based system for the characters. Every time you level up you can allocate points on the different stats on your character. I think this helps balancing things out in terms of the pre-set stats of the characters you'll choose in the character creation stage of the game.
Stats improve your character's play
However, what I liked about the stat system is that it changed the overall game concept of pool. What I mean is, players who don't have an eye on how things work on the pool table can compensate with the stats of your character and items. However the items don't tip the balance too much so players still need to be skilled to maximize the advantage the stat boost items give.
Personally, I don't really like the inclusion of the stat based system in a skill game. However, I'm giving Cue Online a little leeway because Pool is only interesting for a certain amount of time. Players need something to encourage them to keep on playing and I think that leveling is a good motivator for prolonged gaming.
It's a fun fact that it's easy to create and join in games in Cue Online. Joining a room is a really smooth experience. Upon entering all you need to do is click on ready while the room creator is playing a practice game to start the match. There's not much lag and the transition between two players is smooth. It feels like you're playing a match on a console rather than just playing online.
Creating a room
The game has a lot of social systems included that foster social interaction more than just beating each other in pool. There's a messenger system that provides an easy way for friends to find each other and go head to head. There's also a clan system included in the game.
Moves and all that
All the moves you can do in real life pool are doable in Cue Online. You can jump the ball and do a masse. However, you need to have a certain amount of points allocated in the corresponding stat category connected to the move.
Still a Skill-based Game
As I mentioned earlier, Cue Online is a game that's easy to learn but hard to master. Similarly to real life pool, you have to keep on practicing to be able to adjust and increase your skills and not just your level in the game.
Three ability points to spend
Even with the inclusion of the stat items in the shop, doesn't eliminate the fact that Pool (regardless of its game type) is in fact a skill based game. So bear in mind that Cue Online is similar to it. I liked the fact that the game is kind of similar to real life in terms of growth. The more you keep on playing in Cue Online the more that you earn experience points and eventually level, that's so much like how you improve your game in real life pool too.
While this game may never be a hit, I think fans of pool or anyone who's looking for a fun alternative to MMORPG games may enjoy Cue Online. More so when the game goes commercial when a lot of game features will then be open for players.