Just as the cues were chalked at the Crucible for the World Championships, the first fully licensed Snooker game in at least 9 years has been launched. Brought to you by Lab42 and Ripstone Games, Snooker 19 could really be the Snooker game we’ve all been waiting for, read on our Snooker 19 Review and find out.
When I was first offered to review Snooker 19, I jumped at the chance as I am a big fan of this sport in general, so having the opportunity to play as some of my idols was unreal, and with the World Snooker Championships just kicking off, it was a great time for me to chalk up the cue. My first impressions were that of amazement; the game graphics are polished and all looks very well set up with the main menu, which is also extremely easy to navigate around.
You have your standard set up for most games; quick play, single player game, career modes, and your online modes. The online modes are where this game comes into its own, but more on that later. First up, let’s focus on the single player modes.
You can have a quick game with any of the big names of Snooker or you can choose any of the rising stars to play as; it’s completely your choice, but be careful who you choose to play against as the better the player, the harder the challenge.
You have a choice of game modes from the standard snooker set up with 15 reds and the other six colored balls on the table, or you have the six reds option (have a guess what that is?) which is a far quicker game. Then you have the more intense shootout mode where you have the same balls as standard snooker but you are set to a timer and only have seconds to make the pot, making a far more exciting and quick paced game.
Next up you get to choose the number of frames (match length); you can choose from 1 frame right up to the marathon 35 frames. If you are looking for a quick fix, stick to the 1-3 frames or if you have time to burn push the boat out and rack the frames up.
Finally, it’s time to choose your arena, they’re all here from the legendary Crucible to the Alexandra Palace and many other fully licensed arenas from around the globe. Personally, I stick to the Crucible as that’s the Mecca for me. Moving on, you now can get into the action; I went with my favorite player Ronnie O Sullivan. The atmosphere is built straight away as the commentator welcomes you to the Crucible and you get set for the first frame. Pulling off the shots is not about just smashing the ball as hard as you can, it’s more about the planning and finesse. Here goes my personal advice: take your time with your shots, otherwise, you will just fireballs everywhere and get nowhere fast.
Now if you are not that familiar to snooker a lot of the game will be lost as I wouldn’t say it’s for the casual gamer to pick up and have a quick go; Snooker 19 is more of a simulatior, giving you the feeling of what it’s like to actually play in some of these legendary venues and licensed competitions, and this is the part of the game I enjoyed the most as I am a big fan of snooker.
The subject of pulling off the winning shots is all in the art of mastering the controls, as it’s not a case of pressing “X” and the shot happens. When you step up to the table, you will see your cue and two ghost lines, one line is the aim line to the ball you are trying to hit and the second line is the path of the cue ball after making the shot. You will have to keep an eye on this as if the cue ball goes in a pocket, you will foul the shot and gift points to the opponent. To make long range shots I found this more difficult, as it is harder to see the path of the shot and more difficult to make the pot. Also, the longer the shot, the less accurate it is, but believe me… It’s very rewarding when it comes off.
To make the shots you have a power bar to the left of the screen, where you can adjust the power of the shot. When you have the power you think you need then it’s time to pull off the ‘killer shot’. To do this, you use the right analog stick, pull down to start the bar going and let go at the set point on the bar to release the cue and make the shot. You need to time this right as overhitting it will ruin your shot and make things harder for your next shot. Underhit it and you will foul your shot: depending on your opponent, this could mean the frame and even the match. This also happens if you miss a shot, therefore handing the advantage to your opponent. At times this can become frustrating as they can clear the table in front of your very eyes.
It is a difficult game to master but also, on the other hand, a very rewarding game when you can pull off the shots, and this becomes addictive as you’ll want to play for more wins.
Expanding on the single player, you also have the most immersive career modes I have come across such as the choice of Pro Seasons, where you can pick one of the big names to play as and go through the seasons aiming for the top. In an opposite direction you can also pick Rising Stars, where you have a selection of the brightest upcoming stars of the game to choose from and take them up to superstardom.
Pro Seasons is the slightly easier option as you are either against a player with a similar or lower ranking as you. Rising Stars is a greater challenge as you play as a lot lower rank up against the bigger names with the aim to qualify for the open challenges and then the World Championships.
You do also have some customisation options for your selected pro in the My Pro section, letting you change the colour of the outfit and shoes or the style of cue. Unfortunately, there is no option to create your own pro which is a massive minus for me. But fear not, the developers are already listening to the gamer’s feedback and sending out patches to fix certain parts of the game, so you never know… maybe it won’t happen in this game but future in games it may well feature.
Next up you have the multiplayer options: you can either play an opponent in couch co-op mode or you can go online and challenge players from around the world in real-time tournaments.
Couch co-op mode is really intense, having your opponent sitting next to you is great fun for all the bantering back and to. There is very little visual difference between single player and two players as there is no split-screen which, to be fair, is a good thing as it doesn’t fill the screen up too much.
Playing a real-time opponent is completely different from playing an AI opponent like in most games, also this mode is better for a casual quick game especially if you are playing the six red modes. The couch co-op plays similar to that of FIFA as you are both on the screen at the same time.
Next up comes the online gameplay. This is where the game changes so to speak, I feel as Snooker 19 has changed the game in the way online gaming is played taking realism to a whole other level. You do have the quick play single games that you can jump in and play but the online tournaments are a game changer in the way that the tournaments are in real time and fully licensed tournaments so you are actually able to play the World Championships at the same time as the Championships are being played out, giving you a great feeling of the competition. There are many events throughout the calendar that you can take part in and move up the world rankings, but really you should be looking at this when you have fully honed your skills. I look forward to seeing how far I can go in this mode once my skills are set.
I personally played a few games of the single quick play online and found this a lot of fun, it was ever so slightly sluggish at times but not to the point where it would be unplayable so it didn’t spoil the game.
The gameplay is ramped up as you are playing against a real opponent, more or less as if you were in a snooker hall playing together.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of this game are very slick, every detail is there from the finer detail of the arenas you play in right down to the reflections on the balls and even the scuff marks on the green, the players are great to look at in the face as they all look like who they should but at times the movement does look a little robotic and stiff but this is a minor flaw to be fair and not taking away too much from a very well polished game. The sounds of the game are good, the soundtrack is well done with dramatic music at the beginning to get you going.
The sound effects are okay, the cue hitting the ball sounds great and the reactions from the crowd are realistic. My complain with the sound section is the commentary being slightly flawed with the occasionally repeated phrases but, to be fair, you can get this in most of the sports games out there so I’m not pressing too hard on it as, overall, it is a very well put together experience.