Although aimed at the snooker fans, a decent game all round.
Now, as a snooker fan i am forever watching snooker tournaments on TV, often do i find myself sitting in front of my PC with highlights from the latest at the crucible on BBC2. And more often then not i find myself thinking "it cant be that hard to create a snooker game nowdays with todays consoles that would emulate the atmosphere and presentation of championship snooker, can it?". Sure enough, WSC Real '09 finally achieves it, and quite well too.
GRAPHICS - 4/5
Well, theres not exactly much to do in this department from the start, so you would expect that the graphics in the game would be nothing short of perfect, and unfortunatley they do fall just short of perfect. Now, dont get me wrong, The tables, the balls, and the enviroments look spectacular. The area the game lacks in graphics-wise is the player models. Although they do look like thier real-life counterparts, they dont appear to have the ability to change thier facial expressions. Also, the cue movements are not as accurate as one would hope. Everything else is how it should be though, theres plenty of different locations/enviroments which all look stunning, The camera angles are spot on and the OSD is exactly like it is on the real life coverage on BBC2. Overall, you cant fault it too much in the graphics department.
AUDIO - 5/5
This is pretty much spot on. You may think that applying sound to a snooker simulation isnt exactly a hard task. and maybe it isnt. But everything sounds exactly like it should. John Virgo and John Parrot lend thier voices to the game for match commentary for the snooker championship matches, and thier range of vocabulary is excellent, they always seem to be able to accuratley describe the situation in hand, and even make a few snarky comments when a the player takes a while to line up his next shot. There are also a large amounts of different applause samples and "gasps" for when a player makes a good or a bad shot, and the audience seems to respond accordingly with varying levels of applause or suprise. For instance, a slightly complicated shot will generate a small amount of applause where a match-winning shot will generate a big response from the crowd. Cant fault the sound in this game one bit.
GAMEPLAY - 5/5
Now this is where the game really shines. There is pretty much no areas of gameplay in which this game falls down. If i had to name something, i would say the difficulty level is quite high and the controls a little confusing at first, but the controls are easily learned. The game modes are plentiful, much more so than your previous snooker games. Although the game mainly revolves around snooker, sporting 10 official tournaments to play in, including Grand Prix, Pot Black, WSC, Golden Cue and more. There is also an 8-ball pool tournament to play through, and all tournaments are full of authentic and currently ranked players, from Ronnie O'Sullivan (who appears in both snooker and pool championships) to other snooker greats like Steven Hendry, Steve Davis, John Higgins, Peter Ebdon and more, all of which can be selected in two-player mode.
The gameplay on the table is nothing short of magnificent too, now employing a stat point-based system in which you are awarded stat points to place in areas of your choice upon winning games and completing tutorials. This lets you improve aspects of your game specifically and they make a significant impact on what you see on the table. For instance, your arrow indicators for ball path get shorter the more you cut a ball, so cut shots are far harder to aim than straightforward shots (as it should be), but placing points in your cut s section will give you a longer arrow to work with. You can improve pretty much all aspects of your game, including positional play (i.e. where you want your cue ball to end up after youve taken you shot to set up your next one), potting, pressure shots, jump shots, swerve/spin etc etc. You start off and each stat maxes out around 100 so you will have to do plenty playing to radically improve your game.
There are also quite a few game modes to be played casually too. Offline you can have Snooker, 9-ball pool, 8-ball pool, Rotation, Billiards, 3-Ball and Bar Billiards (the one found in pubs around the uk with the pegs on the table). Online is slightly more limited in only having Snooker, Half Red Snooker, Snooker Plus, 8-ball, 9-ball and Rotation available but is still enough variety to keep you going for a while.
The best part is the atmosphere of the game. You really do feel like you're playing in front of millions of viewers, you still feel a little cold sweat when you have to make a difficult pot in a decider match and there is the greater feeling of achievement when you successfully make it, and the disappointment when you dont. The game is also very relaxing, it is very easy to just lean back in your chair and lose a few hours to this game without realising it, and you will always feel the need to play just one more game after winning your last one.
REPLAYABILITY - 5/5
Well, its snooker. It will keep you entertained for months upon months and i see myself playing this constantly until my xbox eaither breaks or becomes obsolete. There are enough game modes to keep everyone entertained for a long time.
Definatley a buyer, not a renter. This game has very few flaws and only just falls short of 5 stars due to the less-than-adequate player models, the steepish difficulty and the price tag. At the moment the RRP of this game is £40 which is a little steep for a snooker game, even of this depth. However, i managed to get this for £20 and i dont see the price staying as high as £40 for a long time. If you see this on your shelf for less than £20, make sure you walk out the shop with it, its definatley worth it.
- FooB / normanlove