Reviewed by Thomas
- Developer: Lab42
- Publisher: Ripstone Publishing
- Release Date: 23/08/2019
- Price: $34.99 / £29.99
- Review code provided by Ripstone Games
If you were to ask me what Snooker was a week ago, I would have answered the name of a new reality star. Snooker as it turns out is a specific style of game played on a billiard table. In my naiveté I would have simply called the game, pool. I would have been wrong. In Snooker, you use the cue ball to attempt to pocket or pot fifteen red balls and six colored balls in a unique order.
Being a new player to snooker, I faced quite a bit of difficulty when I jumped in without understanding the rules. I was abysmal. Fortunately, Snooker 19 includes a very detailed set of rules on how the game is played. In fact, it’s so in depth it reads more like a legal document. Once I oriented myself properly, I jumped back in to the world of snooker.
That’s a Tremendous Pot
Snooker 19 can be quite challenging. Though it gives you all the tools to be successful, if you make one little mistake it can cost you the entire game. Hollow lines appear on the table indicating where your shot will lead. It gives an idea where your target ball and the cue ball will end up. The controls are very sensitive and it can take some time to line up each shot. The announcers made sure to mock you each time you try and get it perfect. When you break, it is imperative to cause as little disruption to the cluster of red balls as possible. If you scatter them, your opponent will clear most of the table before you get another chance.
Most of my early games resulted in the other player accumulating enough points to win the match by his second or third turn. All of which is fine except the AI’s turn is inevitably lengthy. Not just because half the table gets cleared, but a pop-up icon appears prior to each shot letting you know your opponent is thinking which takes longer than it should. Waiting for your turn is tiresome. You can speed up their shot by holding the right trigger, but that doesn’t alleviate the mundane delay leading up to it.
Right Out of the Top Drawer
There are several difficulty settings for each of the modes. I didn’t find any of them to make a real difference. The AI is ruthless regardless of how easy you set the game. The CPU player rarely misses a shot and is expert at putting you in a difficult position. For better or worse, that did help me learn the game faster. I found it was more important in setting up the table with the location of the cue ball than getting a single ball in. There is a lot of strategy in ball placement that made snooker more fun than just potting balls.
Multiplayer modes make Snooker 19 a little more fair. My son and I traded off the controller to compete on an even playing field. I tried several attempts at an online match but was unable to find an opponent.
Close But a Miss Nonetheless
The graphics are a bit dated for a billiards game in 2019. The character movements are wooden with little personality. There is an option to pick different outfits in career mode but you can only play as one of the designated snooker pros. The billiard table itself lacks authenticity and there are limited views making some angles troublesome.
The music provided a serene enough experience. Sound effects were done fairly well. When the balls clack together it sounds believable. The voice over from the announcers sound a tad robotic and the repeated phrases start to grow stale. It doesn’t help that they are slightly insulting when you are trying to line up a shot with a poor control scheme. One odd call out, during a random match a cell phone went off and the announcer irritably reminded everyone to silence their phones.
He’s Taking the Red On
Other technical issues occurred rarely. A few times the character model wouldn’t load and the stick would overlap the table or other balls. One time the cue became possessed and flew all over the screen. The loading screens were a bit long and as mentioned above, the AI takes a long time to take a shot. Snooker 19 worked well on both the television and in handheld mode.
Snooker 19 started off a bit rough. Once I understood the rules and game mechanics it became a lot more fun. Those, however, do not save the game from tedious wait times. The flaws in the graphics can also be excused but many of the modes are more frustrating than fun when the AI trounces you in one turn. Multiplayer options are a bit of a saving grace but at the asking price it may not be worth it unless you are a huge snooker fan.
- Satisfying Strategy in Setting Shots
- Multiple Play Modes
- Queue to Cue, Long Load Times
- Pockets of Performance Issues
- Aggravating AI
Snooker 19 offers spurts of pleasure dulled by tedious intervals and lack of polish.