Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: May 2, 2019
Snooker 19 is a Snooker simulation available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Snooker originated in the 19th century before the World Snooker Championship began in 1927 with the modern era of Snooker travelling to many different countries and cultures. Can Snooker 19 deliver the best Snooker simulation in comparison to its predecessors?
Snooker 19 features all of the official licenses for the season comprising of the top 128 Snooker players in the world listed in their official ranking positions including Alan McManus, Ali Carter, Barry Hawkins, David Gilbert, Ding Junhui, Gary Wilson, Jack Lisowski, James Cahill, Joe Perry, Jimmy White, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Ken Doherty, Kyren Wilson, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, Peter Ebdon, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and much more besides, alongside their respective nickname, region, date of birth, pro debut, ranking, their quantity of ranking titles, amount of century breaks and quantity of highest breaks. Elsewhere, given that Snooker has become a global sport under Barry Hearn’s expert guidance over the last decade or so; it is only fitting that there are 26 officially licensed venues including Alexandra Palace, Cheltenham Racecourse, the Crucible, Guild Hall and York Barbican in England; Baihu Media Broadcasting Centre, Beijing Olympic Gynasium and The Grand Stage in China; Lommel in Belgium; Stadthalle and Tempodrom in Germany; Motorpoint Arena and Venue Cymru in Wales; and many more arenas besides.
Gameplay begins with a tutorial comprising of three phrases that showcases how to set up a basic shot, refining shot direction and applying power before taking the shot, while the latter stages of the tutorial include shot power and applying spin to the cue ball. However, one thing that is oddly omitted is the necessity of chalking your cue tip in order to maximise the accuracy and power of your shot or the ability to miscue when not having chalked your cue.
Quick Match mode allows the player to choose from three match types including Snooker, Snooker with half a dozen reds and Snooker Shootout with a shot clock timer, alongside match length from 1 frame up to 35 frames in two frame increments and any of the 26 arenas. Quick Match mode is the perfect mode for anyone who wants to play a quick couple of frames of Snooker within a small period of time.
Rather intriguingly; there is not one career mode, but actually two separate career modes. Rising stars career mode tasks the player to control an up and coming professional on the World Snooker tour with the opportunity to begin at the bottom before gradually progressing through the rankings as any of 31 players such as James Cahill, Jamie Clarke, Joe O’Connor, Zhao Xintong and more besides, alongside a biography of each player chronicling their amateur career before they turned pro. Meanwhile, pro seasons career mode allows the player to take on the role of their preferred Snooker player from the top 128 players in the world and their respective ranking in an attempt to break records and remain at the upper echelon of the rankings. The full length official season calendar schedule realistically includes qualifiers for the majority of tournaments, while there are invitational events such as the Six Red World Championship, Shanghai Masters, Champion of Champions, 7 Champions League tournaments and the Champions League Winners tournament. Elsewhere, ranking events include Kaspersky Riga Masters, Yushan World Open, Paul Hunter Classic in memory of the late great Paul Hunter, Indian Open, Evergrande China Championship, European Masters, English Open, OPPO International Championship, UK Championship, Scottish Open, German Masters, World Grand Prix, Welsh Open, Snooker Shoot Out, Players Championship, Gibraltar Open, Tour Championship, China Open and the legendary test of endurance that is the two and a half weeklong Snooker marathon of the World Championship. Rising stars and pro seasons career modes both offer customisable settings including difficulty, aiming aid and a short, medium or long match length.
Snooker 19 has a freelook camera that enables the player to have a different view of the action by panning the camera around the table to provide a better look at if a ball passes another ball within close proximity and to generally see what options are available for the next shot. However, the freelook camera does not allow the player to lean in above the Snooker balls for a closer look as the freelook camera only ventures to the edge of each side of the table on an equal height to the Snooker balls or a little further in the air, while it does not show the angles of where the object ball and cue ball are headed as the camera angle does when the player is lining up their shot. Snooker 19 would have significantly benefited from a third-person over the shoulder perspective reminiscent of a third-person action adventure that would introduce a much higher level of quality in animations for every Snooker player by allowing the player to walk round the table and lean in above the Snooker balls. That approach, if it was to be utilised in a sequel would allow the player to be best positioned in analysing the pot and safety shot options, while having an increased probability of interpreting the potting and safety shot angles correctly; towards potentially scoring more heavily on the way to century breaks or earning 4 point Snookers with far more accurate positioning of the cue ball.
Snooker 19 will not receive a Vita release; despite there being officially licensed Snooker games on PSP including World Snooker Championship 2005 and 2007 as well as World Championship Snooker: Season 2007-08 on Nintendo DS, although International Snooker is available on Vita, albeit is not officially licensed, while remote play is also a consolation. Snooker 19’s remote play performance is mostly pretty good as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version. However, there is no remote play control optimisation resulting in fine tuning the aim and applying spin requiring the player to hold the top left or top right of the rear touch pad respectively that can be a little awkward, especially during the shot clock timer within the Snooker Shoot Out match type. As L and R only have returning a cue elevation or spin on the cue ball to default, then it would have been quite easy to remap fine tuning the aim of your shot and applying spin to the cue ball to L and R respectively with the original button mappings moving to the top left and top right of the rear touch pad. Snooker 19 is a playable remote play experience, but players will have to familiarise themselves with the remote play control scheme.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of changing the direction of the left analogue stick to aim your shot; holding L2 while changing the direction of the left analogue stick to fine tune the aim of your shot in smaller increments; holding R2 while changing the direction of the right analogue stick to adjust spin on the cue ball; pressing R1 to return to default cue ball spin; pressing up or down on the d-pad to raise or lower cue elevation respectively; pressing L1 to return to default cue elevation; moving up or down on the right analogue stick to adjust shot power; moving down on the right analogue stick to start shot execution; moving up on the right analogue stick to take the shot; pressing X to advance; pressing O to back; pressing square to use colour blind mode; pressing triangle followed by changing the direction of the left or right analogue stick respectively to use the freelook camera; holding R2 to speed up the A.I. controlled player’s shot; pressing the options button to display the pause menu; and pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu. There is no touch pad implementation, although that could have been utilised as an alternative to the left and right analogue sticks for fine tuning the aim of your shot or applying spin to the cue ball respectively by swiping the touch pad when holding L2 or R2. There is no light bar support that could have produced red or your nominated colour that would help the player to remember their next shot if their was a temporary distraction from gameplay, alongside no vibration that could have increased the tension during Snooker Shoot Out matches when the shot clock or match clock was within the final few seconds.
Graphically, Snooker 19 has accurate likenesses of Snooker players and venues combined with realistic physics of how the Snooker balls react on the table. However, there is not enough animation in between shots such as not being able to see either player walking around the table as the A.I. controlled player’s movements is replaced with a notice of “Opponent is thinking”, the bridge hand and arm of the player taking their shot, picking up the rest, putting the rest away or extending their cue. Meanwhile, there is no referee respotting the balls and any close-ups of the Snooker balls as either player is taking their shot seems as though the shadows on the Snooker balls and the table are not accurate as they are akin to cross-hatching in comic book illustrations rather than dynamic lighting and shadows, while there seems to be a distinct lack of anti-aliasing that is particularly showcased by the baulk line and the outer edges of the table. It would also nice to see an officially licensed Snooker game venture into virtual reality in a future iteration.
Snooker 19’s slick presentation includes alternating real life imagery of Snooker players about to take their shot on the play now menu, alongside imagery of Snooker trophies between the online vs play now menu and the records menu, while the career mode menu features half a dozen of the world’s best Snooker players and the official World Snooker logo. Elsewhere, presentation of Snooker statistics for each player is excellent, while each of the menus are easy to navigate via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick or touch pad.
Voice-overs include commentary from Dave Hendon and Neal Foulds that commentate on Snooker matches televised on Eurosport and ITV, while the referee voice-over is provided by Brendan Moore. Commentary is not always accurate in relation to the description of the upcoming shot as a pot to a centre pocket or a long pot most probably results in being told that you are going for a safety shot. Unfortunately, the commentary lacks those moments of historical accuracy such as mentioning when two players met in a certain round of another major tournament and how we could be excited for this match due to the brand of aggressive Snooker both players played in that match or the meteoric rise of a player such as Gary Wilson who dropped off the top 128 rankings and professional tour, became a taxi driver before returning to Snooker and making his way into the world’s top 32 players or a player’s resilience such as Mark Williams sensationally winning his third World Championship in 2018 at the age of 43; the second oldest winner of the much coveted crown in Snooker. Sound effects include striking the cue ball, the cue ball hitting a red or colour and the ambience of the crowd reaction with applause for a brilliant pot or safety shot. Snooker’s official instrumental theme; Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band is not included that would have added more to the official presentation of the sport, although the instrumental music is well composed for the world of Snooker. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced commentary, dialogue from the referee and crowd reaction.
The trophy list includes 30 trophies with 15 bronze trophies, 8 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include 3 bronze trophies for hitting Snooker balls hard and hoping for the best in the sense of performing trick shots such as potting two legal balls in a single shot, potting a red from a two ball plant and potting a ball after it hits a cushion. Harder trophies include The Maximum gold trophy for making a 147 break; the Triple Crown silver trophy for winning the UK Championship, the Masters and the World Championship; the Snooker Legend silver trophy for setting the record for most ranked championship wins in career mode; and the World Champion gold trophy for setting the record in career mode for winning the most World Championships in the modern era. Meanwhile, there are 9 online multiplayer trophies including winning 10 and 20 online matches, playing 50 and 100 online matches; defeating a rival in an online match; and winning 5, 10, 20 and 50 matches in online tournaments. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 75 to 100 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are two sets of difficulty levels including the player’s aiming aid consisting of amateur, pro, master and no aiming aid, alongside the difficulty of an A.I. controlled opponent that is rather intriguingly based upon their real world ranking as players ranked between 61st to 128th are considered to be easy opponents, while players ranked from 21st to 60th are classed as medium opponents and players ranked between 1st to 20th are classed as hard opponents.
Local multiplayer supports two players in Quick Match mode with the same three match event types, players to choose from and options in comparison to the single player Quick Match mode gameplay, alongside the same performance and audio. Online multiplayer modes include online vs for unranked online matches, while online tournament offers players the chance to participate in online World Snooker tournaments to climb online ranking leaderboards and earn rewards in the process.
Snooker 19’s replayability originates from two career modes comprising of every official tournament and arena, the world’s top ranked 128 Snooker players, local multiplayer Quick Match mode with Snooker, half a dozen reds and Snooker Shoot Out match event types and unranked and ranked online multiplayer matches. If Snooker 19 is the first of an annual franchise, then further replay value could be introduced via officially licensing women’s Snooker players and tournaments, alongside amateur Snooker tournaments and players that have either fallen off the top 128 rankings or have yet to make it to the top 128 players on the professional tour as well as focusing on iconic eras such as Dennis Taylor, Fred Davis, Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths and much more besides to form three further separate career modes in addition to the two already fascinating career modes seen in Snooker 19.
• Title: Snooker 19
• Developer: Lab42
• Publisher: Ripstone
• System: PS4
• Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2/2 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
• Hard Drive Space Required: 8.09GB (Version 1.02)