Review: WCS Real ’09 Snooker
Jim Davidson is a cunt.
Snooker games have been around since the early eighties, even on the Spectrum which famously couldn’t really combine colour with smooth animation and they do have some appeal don’t they? Maybe because playing them makes you like some snooker version of Neo. By day you’re a cack-handed spastic whose best ever break involves four or five balls but in the virtual world you’re making triple figure breaks and humiliating Stephen Hendry in the final of the World Championship.
This particular series has been around for some time now (2003 if my age-addled memory serves correctly) and through no fault of its own, it’s not evolved one iota. It’s understandable, after all it’s not like football where there are so many elements to simulate. In snooker you just need to worry about potting, positioning, modelling the top players and getting the tournaments in there.
It’s at this point where you all need to understand something. Every single review of WCS Snooker 2007 was ill-informed dogshit. They might as well have read ‘yeah, we played a couple of frames and it’s snooker innit’. None of them mentioned the fact that it was, without a doubt, the most broken game on the 360. I mean fundamentally flawed. It got the snooker part right but the AI, tournaments andutterly miserable ranking system ruined it to the point where I’m amazed that Codemasters even let Blade near this series again.
Thankfully WSC ’09 does its best to rectify the faults. There is no longer a drawn out career mode for Pool (thank you LORD). This is doubly good news as ’07 didn’t let you switch between pool and snooker without resetting your progress. Also, you get a nice amount of skill points if you play through the oddly hard to find tutorial mode which helps things a bit. However there are still several problems.
I’ve not played a 3D snooker game since Archer MacLean’s superb Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker on the Amiga. So what advances have been made in the 18 years since that game was released?
Well instead of being a floating cue, you get to create a character, trying to create one that actually looks human on the other hand is very tricky. You also have to assign skill points to your character, whilst this makes sense in RPGs or other sports games, with snooker either you’ve aimed the shot up right or you haven’t. The skill should come down to the player, not the character.
One of the stats is pressure, this relates to how well your character reacts to tough shots, if your rank isn’t high enough then your character fluffs the shot, even if you’ve lined it up right. One other thing that lets the game down is the menu system, everything is just so slow and poorly implemented. For example there’s an achievement for completing the tutorial, yet there’s not an actual choice called ‘tutorial’.
If you want a snooker and pool simulation for the current gen consoles then this is your best bet. Whilst the snooker part of the game plays perfectly fine, the rest of the game is poorly implemented. Secondary Score: 6/10
Firstly, the save function on the game randomly doesn’t work. Sometimes it’ll save your progress, other times you have to play your previous frames again. The AI still has a nasty feature of potting a freak long shot from your relatively safe break and then clearing up. The John ‘as funny as AIDS’ Virgo commentary from 2007 is back. I mean EXACTLY the same recording. It’s still nearly impossible to work out which tournament you’re currently playing in and what the structure of it is (you can’t always scroll right around the standings screen). The minimalist graphics still glitch all over the place. The list goes on and on. Oh yeah and the loading times would make Oblivion blush.
It’s a shame because, as with the last game, the snooker engine is as solid as ever and the feeling of knocking in a large break is hugely satisfying but it is exactly the same as before (albeit with an optional alternate control system) which makes you wonder why they are charging full price for the game. Also, it’s been six years since the original and to be honest it’s gotten as dull as pisswater especially considering how dry the game’s delivery is.
When you consider that Archer Maclean’s pool games throw in mini-games such as darts and even a version of his Dropzone coin-op, it makes this package seem laughably minimalist. Still, if you’re a purist who doesn’t mind playing dozens of seasons in order to get to number one then you’ll probably get a lot out of this game. But everyone else would do well to see if Blade get round to patching this game. They did eventually patch the 2007 game… albeit disguised as this full-priced release.