Figured it would be fun to bump this one. I actually acquired a SS over the weekend and have been putting a lot of time into it since.
I'm not sure where I stand at the moment on the ramp spotting a pool ball. One one hand I like the flexibility the game gives you. If you hit the ramp twice in a row the ball diverts which makes it harder to milk it repeatedly in a rapid-fire manner. However, I checked and there is no software setting to disable it. Setting the game to the hardest settings doesn't change it.
Still, I found there are several other things to do that can keep things interesting. For instance, you can try to build your combos and collect those repeatedly (I just saw a video where the fifth collected combo award is worth 50 million). Another thing that is fun (and is good on risk/reward) is attempting to build your Trick Shot value to the max after the first match. It caps out at 25 million, and if collected makes every other Trick Shot be that value for the rest of the game.
The Web is a decent wizard mode. I enjoy having an infinite add-a-ball if you play well. Interestingly--and I don't know if this was a bug--but I completed a game of Nine Ball while in The Web and it restarted the multiball completely (it replayed the intro animation and gave me ball save again. This is separate from completing the Black Widow drop and getting the normal add-a-ball).
I'm trying to figure out if the various characters have effects on scoring or other modes/features in the game. I know that while playing against Tex your multiball will turn into "Stampede Multiball", making all Jackpots doubled. I haven't been able to tell if the other characters are doing anything special.
Anyway, I've had the game for less than a week at this point so I'm not sure how I will feel about the whole thing months down the road, but at the moment I'm definitely leaning towards "not deserving the hate". It is genuinely fun, has some good shots and modes, and the theme is integrated decently and has some charm. I wouldn't call it a player's game, but it definitely has some features players can appreciate.