I’ve been a fan of Snooker since I was a youngster and hung around clubs that had snooker tables so obviously graduated to the game, so I was excited to see a developer take on a newer update on modern consoles and PC.
Snooker 19 comes from a team that, collectively, have a lot of experience in snooker titles. That’s actually harder than it sounds as while snooker and pool games were big on 8-bit and 16-bit computers like the Spectrum, C64 and Amiga, we haven’t had all that many attempts to re-create the sport properly in more recent years. This takes the game seriously, though, with a fully licensed round-up of top current players and some of the long-term pros of the sport including Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.
The main mode in Snooker 19 is Career, as you’d expect, and it tasks you with stepping in to the shiny black shoes of one of these players. It’s a little unfortunate that you can’t create your own player (yes, I wanted to add myself) but I guess this would involve much more work from the developers when it came to character modelling, as each player is fully animated. It’s a nice touch that makes the game more realistic, the atmosphere of the room (recreated from real places) and the players walking around or lining up a shot feel just right.
But the game is also full of contradictions, too. While we have the players wondering around the baize or sitting and watching their opponent, plus some great out-of-focus face shots as the camera follows the action of the ball, just as on TV, the graphics can also let the side down from time to time with jagged edges and missing lighting on the balls or cue. I would have thought that snooker was a fairly easy game to get right in terms of adding good lighting effects and providing fairly simple geometric shapes, but there are times where the illusion is shattered a little. There are occasional glitches and a strange choice of using a white transition between shots. Most of all, though, the inability to see the target when in the free roaming camera mode is a let down and needs to be fixed.
Likewise, the sound. The commentary is great and manages to keep up with your actions well but something was niggling me about the sound elsewhere. Then I realised, while audiences clap at specific times, there are no clearing of throats, murmurs or other small touches that you’d take for granted while either watching on TV or when sat in an audience. I really hope the developers add these in as it would greatly improve the atmosphere.
AI is one aspect I can’t fault. This game has some great opponents that feel like playing against a real person. The difficulty really ramps up and becomes a challenge when needed, which is great.
While there are issues here, Snooker 19 is still a solid game that does the sport justice. It could do with a bit more fleshing out and tidying up, but overall it’s a great title from developers who are obviously passionate about Snooker.