Sunday 3 May 2015

World Championship Snooker 2004 Review (PS2)

Snooker may not be as popular or create as much of a buzz in your average gamers mind as other titles, but World Championship Snooker 2003 proved that there was a lot that could be achieved when placing snooker into a gaming world. This latest instalment builds on last rather nicely title but as with all annual updates, we are keen to see if anything has really been improved upon, or if it is just a case of sending out the same title with some new polish.

As is par for the course a few extra play modes and features have been added to the 2004 version. As well as the usual trick shot and pool sections there are now added multiplayer games along with a host of other nice play modes such as a classic match option and online compatibility. Add in a few bits of video to unlock and at least at presentation level this is a snooker fans dream game.

The game of snooker comes in the form of either one off matches, tournaments or a more in-depth and highly engaging career mode. Here you create a player and work you’re way through the rankings from small tournaments to the major events. Not drastically different from last years effort but as with all good things sometimes all that is needed is a little piece of the puzzle to change to make the overall feel much more appealing.

Graphically, the game has improved massively, it may be hard to imagine but the snooker table and balls are much more realistic than last time, amazing what some subtle colour differences can do. Now when you look at the table, especially from certain camera angles you would be hard pushed to tell if it is a game or the real thing being shown all hours of the day on BBC 2. Gratefully, the look of the ‘real’ players has been improved as well. It’s still not perfect but at least now you can tell the difference between Ronnie O’Sullivan and ET.

Apart from the new cosmetics, there has been one of two tweaks to the gameplay which help solve some niggling bugs from last year. Due to the smoother graphics it is easier to judge where the ball is going to go, meaning that just clipping the edge of a pocket is normally the players fault rather than something you could not see properly. Furthermore, while the sensitivity of cursor is still a little to high, after a few matches it becomes second nature to line up impressive shots and the frustration of the 2003 game where you where always gently trying to move the impact point ever so slightly to one side- only to see the thing swing miles off target is long gone.

The inclusion of highly detailed real life snooker arenas also acts to improve the overall feel of the game. During a tense set being surrounded by a crowd in a 'real’ setting really helps to build atmosphere. Couple this with a rather superb commentary track from John Virgo and Dennis Taylor and it truly is the next best thing to being there playing the worlds best yourself.

There has not been a major overhaul of any aspect since 2003. What we have is a more highly polished and refined version of something that was a pretty fine Snooker title in the first place. All the little improvements mean that even if you bought the last version of the series this one is well worth your money. For snooker fans it is guaranteed to engage and be enjoyed like no other title on the market, highly recommended.

Overall 8/10

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