Sunday 26 April 2015

World Championship Snooker 2003 Review (PS2)

‘Its only game so put up a real good fight, I’m gonna be snookering you tonight, Snookering you, Snookering you tonight, Big Brake’ If you recognise those immortal words then this game could definitely be one for you. A rare offering in the fast paced, full on extreme world of all action Snooker comes in the form of the inspirationally titled World Championship Snooker 2003. However whether the sight of John Virgo in a waste coat gets you all hot under the collar or not it is clear that this game is one for the fans of the sport, and really that is all anyone could have hoped for.

Indeed, the amount of different features, play modes and a total of seventy real players all help to make sure that any avid fan of the sport will spend more time on the PS2 than on the table. As well as standard Snooker, which can be played as a one off match, a tournament of varying length or in a career mode where players must work their way up the rankings, there are also some other well thought out extras included. For instance, the title lets you play games of pool in both the 8 ball and 9 ball style, this helps to keep things varied and adds more of a ‘pick up and play’ style, should you wish for a quick game.

Perhaps most welcome of all however is the inclusion of a number of different trick shots to be completed. Once each has been tackled in turn you are thrown into the new challenge of ‘John Virgo’s trick shot’ where all shots must be completed in a time limit, who said Snooker would never make a decent arcade game? Furthermore, a number of two player games are available and though not the most imaginative inclusion (having to protect certain pockets, and pot balls in certain other pockets) it all helps to build a nice title that has a certain amount of longevity and style about it.

In graphical terms the game is both functional and poor in different areas. Admittedly there is little you can do to make a snooker table look like a cultured landscape picked from one of the Final Fantasy games, so while the representation of the table, balls and cue are not exactly jaw dropping they represent what they are supposed to and being colour blind aside, you should be able to tell where all the different coloured balls are at any given time. The balls themselves glide around the table as they are supposed to and should you play a particularly nice shot you are treated to a more cinematic angle as your allotted colour rolls its way into the nearest pocket.

Where the graphics fall down is with the somewhat ridiculous representations of the fifty odd real life snooker players in the title. First of all, at least half of the players look nothing like their real life counter parts, indeed some are so bad you wonder if the programmers had been given pictures of completely different people to work from. Another area that causes concern is the somewhat pointless animations during a frame- when a player finishes their turn they walk round the table and sit down; the next player then stands up and takes his position. This animation seems to take about half an hour and even with the ‘speed up’ button you are still shown some of the most bizarre walking animations in the history of gaming.

Luckily for us though, a few ropey graphics aside everything else has been implemented to a highly competent degree. The game plays very well apart from the shot cursor being very sensitive at times meaning that when you are trying get your shot to go in one very particular exact spot it can be very frustrating. However, for the most part everything the game does in terms of controls is aimed at making your life easier. It is fare to say that we are not exactly veterans when it comes to snooker games, but right from the first match it was easy to pull off complex shots. Perhaps too easy for some, but it leaves players to polish up on learning how hard to hit the ball and other small elements that make the difference between good players and excellent ones.

Rest assured though, while the controls are excellent, so is the computer AI of your opponents and it is not uncommon for them to almost clear the table after you have mucked up a shot. Word Championship Snooker 2003 is a simulation of the sport and so players must expect to have to raise their game in order to beat the worlds best snooker players.

Indeed, the fact that World Snooker Championship 2003 is so heavily based in the ‘real’ makes us wonder if this review is even worth writing. Because surely if you are a mad snooker fan you will have already bought this, or will buy it regardless of any faults the game has (luckily that is very few). If you don’t like snooker there is little here that is going to make you play the game, this certainly is not ‘Mario Snooker’ by any stretch of the imagination. What is here is a very playable and concise, though a little ugly, snooker simulation. If you like Snooker then buy it.

Overall 7/10

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