|World Snooker Championship 2005|
|Developer: Blade Interactive Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-4, 2 players online via PS2 Network Adapter
Whilst having a quick look back at our review of last year’s World Championship Snooker 2004 my mind wandered and I got to thinking how truly remarkable it is how much has happened in that year, how some things have improved vastly, how little some things have changed, and how some things are inexplicably worse – and this goes for Blade Interactive’s excellent snooker game too (renamed World Snooker Championship). Just like the game, some things won’t need altering from last year’s review at all, including the opening statement…
The new publishers of this excellent snooker series Sega have managed to get the game on the shelves with remarkably good timing, to coincide with the actual World Championship at Sheffield. Quite why previous publishers Codemasters never managed this is a mystery, but hopefully this EA-esque timing will be rewarded with the sort of sales figures that a game of this quality deserves.
Progression and winning tournaments unlocks extra venues and novelty tables (there’s an L-shaped one!), videos etc. The ultimate aim is obviously to get to the number one ranking spot and of course win the end of season finale, the World Championship itself, at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Just like the real game though, just getting into and retaining a top-16 ranking is a significant challenge.
As you’d expect with a snooker game, practice and getting a feel for the table is vital, and judgement of pace on shots and the subsequent position on the next ball is everything. Also, although practice reaps its rewards, and there’s and genuine “feel” built into the game, it’s still more difficult than it should be to judge the weight of shots and sometimes the aiming lines aren’t as helpful as you’d expect (you will still leave shots short now and then – it’s a thing that hardly ever happens in the real game and is very annoying when you miss because of it). A new ‘down the cue’ view really helps in aiming certain shots, and you can still aim from the overhead view (initially there are two levels of aiming assistance).
World Snooker Championship 2005 is also playable online via the PS2 Network Adapter and if you can find a game, it works well, if slowly. Things can be sped up if you both turn off the player animations, but online play is a very deliberate and chilled-out game (you can set up one-on-one matches either ranking or non-ranking of up to 35 frames in length, but how often is that going to get used?). For the first time the PS2 version gets voice communication, which really helps the game’s appeal to me, as last year the game felt cold, impersonal, and like you may as well be playing against a CPU opponent.
Again this year there’s notable improvement in the game’s overall look – the balls and players have improved, but as the players previously looked like Resident Evil zombies that’s not saying much – at least they’re motion-captured now and look more like their human counterparts - they’re supposed to behave like the real players too but I didn’t see much evidence of this, and many still take an age to take their shot (they’re more “Ebdon” than “O’Sullivan”), and you’ll definitely be yelling “GET ON WITH IT” at CPU opponents on more than one occasion (if you’re really impatient or short of time you can turn the AI player turn off though, and the CPU will simply generate the AI player’s break). The TV-style presentation is made more authentic by having John Virgo joined by Steve Davis and John Parrott (Virgo still sounds like the most miserable git in existence). Good shots will be replayed automatically and you can call up a replay of any recent shot. The amount of detail around the table is worth a mention too, with working ball chutes and animated crowds. I don’t know who designed the menus and selection screens though, they look rather yucky and are laid out in a confusing manner – this wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t coloured what is best described as high tech ‘snot’ green, and they just don’t fit with the rest of the game.
Gripes aside, all in all, what we have here is another highly respectable update of the best and most playable simulation of the great game – but to be honest it’s unlikely to appeal to anyone other than snooker loopy nuts (like us), and needed even more of a tune up than it got.
- The ball physics totally convince, and are even better than before.
- The game allows you to play like a Pro and make big breaks.
- Over 100 of the World’s top Pros - and they’re better animated than before.
- You can play 8-ball and 9-ball pool too!
- Online play and rankings.
- You can chat during a game, which is nice.
- It’s out in time for the real World Championships.
- Still some issues with the control method and aiming.
- The players still don’t actually look or act that much like the real thing.
- The Tour may be too difficult for the casual snooker player.