Gamestyle Archive intro: back to September 2001 and its time for snooker. Writer JJ.
Snooker does not have an image of an exciting, action packed, free for all sport and in these days of extreme pursuits must be overlooked by the majority consumers. What I know about snooker isn’t much, pool is my pub game as it involves fewer rules and therefore less thought, which is helpful after a few. Even Jennifer Lopez offering me a game of snooker wouldn’t normally be enough to entice me from my drink. However friends who are fans of the sport soon found themselves presented with a rare invite for a few sessions of World Championship Snooker 2002. Together we were very surprised by this excellent game from Codemasters who are building a reputation for creating good sports games without the need for flash licenses.
The game is approved by the World Snooker organisation and therefore comes with all the famous names (27 in total) that you see on Big Break with Jim Davidson. World Championship Snooker 2002 continues the series that started successfully on the Psone and PC last year. This version of course uses the power of the Playstation 2 to take the realism to new levels and incorporates new features such as the Coaching Mode; where Dennis Taylor takes you through the basics. This is a good starting place for any first time snooker player who isn’t familiar with the basics of the sport and the control/interface used by the game. There are several options within the coaching mode, allowing you to either play a full game or select an aspect that you feel needs improving i.e. potting the colours. The manual itself gives a brief and direct explanation of the game without resorting the encyclopaedia sized manuals that come with those Microsoft flight simulations.
The game benefits from a good overall design as it can accommodate beginners or seasoned fans of the sport. There are several modes on offer with the Championship Mode being the main, serious section for any fan and this is also known as the career mode. As with the ever-popular wrestling games you can create your own snooker legend, while not as intricate its still good. If you would rather ignore the option of creation the Quick Start mode allows you to jump in at the deep end. Here you can start ranked 65th in the world and work your way up to the very top (if you can) by playing in the qualifiers and main tournaments around the globe. Unlike other games, which pitch you against the very best from day one, World Snooker Championships contains many fantasy players who, truth be told, are worse than you. Certainly several will triumph over your inexperience but it gives the impression that you have a chance, at least until you meet the Steven Hendry’s or Ronnie O’Sullivan’s of this world.
After your initial encounter with the true professional player you soon realise that practice is very much needed! Many will prefer a quick game of snooker without the depth or realism that the Career/Championship mode offers. World Championship Snooker has several thought out modes and games to keep you and up to 15 friends amused for a very long time. The match option allows you to set up a quick game of snooker with various options available. Tournament is where you can with your friends or by yourself set up a custom event. These modes were perhaps some of the most enjoyable multi-player sessions we’ve had on a Playstation 2 since its release last year. A welcome relief from the frantic all out battles of Quake and Timesplitters. The final mode is the Fun Games that offers several games, which you and a friend can enjoy mostly based on time and making your shots quickly.
Any successful sports game owes its success to how easily the control method is; simple controls can hide a great deal of depth i.e. Mario Golf or Virtua Tennis for instance. World Championship Snooker uses a simple power meter to allow you to judge the strength needed for each shot. As you aim your shot two directional arrows will show were the cue ball and the target should go, this adjusts with the level of power. This is very easy to learn and leads to some outrageous shots later on in the game, simply because you feel confident with the whole method. Should buttons along with the analogue stick change the camera angle so you can look further down from the table. Pretty important for precision shots where you do not wish to hit a certain snooker ball and the aiming aid is available if you require its assistance. The physics and ball movements are realistic complete with those corner cushions that stop your net bound efforts. This is also true of the sound effects coming from the snooker table, a great deal of effort has been put into bringing you the real thing and it has been pulled off.
No game is without its problems and apart from being based on snooker; World Championship Snooker 2002 does have several noticeable areas that need attention. The animation and graphics of the players is noticeably poor, perhaps the code has been taken from the Psone version and graphically it could be better. The atmosphere of the game is totally wrong; crowds are noticeable by their absence. Yes snooker is played in packed quiet arenas but not with a morgue type atmosphere that we have in the game here. A bit more interaction from the crowd and surroundings would have improved the simulation aspect greatly. As with most commentaries in sports games they are mostly average or poor, here the latter is true.
Overall World Championship Snooker 2002 is an excellent rendition of the sport and will please any fan of snooker. For the more casual fan or gamer there is a great deal here that will keep you and your friends occupied for several months to come. A welcome surprise for anyone wanting some multi-player action on the Playstation 2.
Gamestyle Score: 7/10