It’s that time of year again for all of us snooker enthusiasts to watch a bunch of men knock their balls together – Steady! On a serious note, this game is a great way to relax and use your skills to navigate a virtual table in peace and not worry about the wife going mad that you have turned the spare room into a men’s den (Oh, if only, I hear everyone cry). This may be your only opportunity to brag about getting a 147 highest break against the 20 maximum you normally achieve down your local snooker hall with your mates.
WSC Real 11: World Snooker Championship caters for all skill levels and fans of all the usual ball potting games you can think of. We have snooker, obviously (the name kind of gives that one away) Pool, and also some Billiards thrown in to the pot – excuse the pun! However, one thing they seem to have ditched from the game is the trick shot mode that I personally used to enjoy greatly. There’s nothing better that pulling off an outrageous shot. All that aside, this game is nicely packaged and well thought out, with some online quick play and tournament options thrown into the mix hugely welcome additions too.
The interface is nicely laid out and welcoming from the start, as you create your player, assign attributes and browse through your impressive array of trophies. Once you have finished messing around with your player you can head straight into a career or have a refresher course in the tutorial. I would recommend you try the tutorial at first, as the controls are a bit unwieldy at first and very sensitive. You control the aim and shot power using the analogue sticks, while the other buttons control elevation, spin and alter your view point as in previous versions. The only thing I found with the tutorial was it didn’t really explain things such as why you were taking a shot that is first demonstrated before you are asked to try it yourself. For a beginner to the game, it might have been nice to have been told why you are taking that angle etc. Also, you only seem to get one chance at trying the practice shot before a new one appears. So if you miss the pot on the first try there is no retry, which I found a little disappointing. However, it’s a good place to start and you will soon find the controls second nature.
Onto the main game itself, it’s safe to say the commentary is woeful, with only a few lines that seem to be repeated about 10 times a frame all in the same monotone voice. This becomes increasingly frustrating hearing the same thing over and over again. In contrast, the game itself has never looked better. The balls are nice and shiny (it must have taken the virtual ball polisher hours to get them like that) the arena looks amazing and the players seem to move in a much more human manner. This really gives you the felling of what a real arena must feel like. Although I have never actually played in from of hundreds of people yet (I think I would need to pay people to watch me) you do feel like all the eyes are on your next shot. The physics in the game are obviously the most important part and they seem extremely polished. The developers have obviously put great effort into making them as accurate as possible.
One aspect of the game that, sadly, yet again has made a return is the fact that you can only have one career going at once. Once your start either a Snooker or Pool career and are half way through, then fancy a change for a bit, you will loose the career you are on. This seems absurd and surely would not have been to hard to implement into the game. Thankfully, however, the career is very satisfying, and as you progress through the qualifying rounds you start to take part in the big events. The A.I. is pretty good though. At times, you feel that if you mess up one shot the AI will clear the table before you’ve even had chance to take a sip of water. Thankfully, this does not happen too often to spoil your game.
The best counter to the A.I. is the new ‘Rewind’ option, which not only lets you save your favorite shots and matches for future posterity, but also allows you to retake any shot in your current frame at any given point. At times it can be a major help, as one badly placed shot can end in tears. Instead you can chose to replay the shot in the hope of a more favorable outcome.
Due to the recent issues with the PlayStation Network, it was impossible for me to test WSC’s online options at the time of review, but, if you’re interested in these, please check back for an update on them once PSN is back online. As it is, your enjoyment of WSC will greatly depend on your love of the sport and how quickly you pick up and master the controls. If you are a fan though, once you get hooked it is amazingly satisfying to play and you will soon be concentration on clearing up from break. Now of you go and ‘pot some balls’.
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