Snooker. Some may love it, others may hate it.
Maybe you only play it down the pub. Or maybe you only know about it because of 90s Saturday night TV highlight Big Break. But Snooker 19, developed by Lab42, and released on 17th April, makes the more complex of the cue sports accessible and entertaining, even if it does soon get repetitive.
The game itself looks great. The players look very realistic, and the animations are smooth. Along with realistic snooker commentary it feels just like you’re watching it on the TV. Snooker 19 boasts a very impressive 128 players (from up-and-coming amateurs to the best of the best) and a range of realistic settings and tournaments. When it comes to the authentic feel of snooker, Snooker 19 is the absolute best around.
The games can be very tense too, with the difficulty being quite high – even on easy mode. Snooker 19 offers three difficulty settings and adjustable options based on how much guidance you want. Really though, the only difference the difficulty actually makes is how likely the opposing player is to make a mistake, and with the pros, that’s hardly ever. It can become frustrating sitting and watching the opponent when there’s little that can be done to stop them winning, but a handy fast-forward option does help with that.
One of the main issues with Snooker 19, however, is how shallow the overall experience is. It has the same problem that numerous sports games of the past have had: it’s too repetitive. To combat this, the most successful sports games now offer training modes in between matches, the ability to level up the player, provide a sense of progression through an increase in fans and followers, and sometimes even some kind of story mode. Sadly, Snooker 19 doesn’t include any of this, making the overall experience get old very quickly.
The main gameplay comes from the career mode. You can choose to either be a high ranking elite player, or start from the bottom and work your way up. The option to play as a younger, unseeded player is really exciting, but the lack of customisation lets the mode down. Die-hard snooker fans will probably love the ability to play as a young up-and-comer, but for more casual fans the option to actually create your own player would have been a huge addition. You can choose an outfit for your player, but that’s it.
Sadly the lack of customisation doesn’t just stop there. The 128 players in Snooker 19 don’t have any statistics applied to them at all. Other than seeing their history and records, there’s no difference between the players. It seems that the difficulty level and overall standings are the only factors to how likely the opponent is to be great. It makes the game a lot more shallow, and really defeats the purpose of choosing to be a young-gun and work your way to the top. Nothing really changes or improves for you.
Playing through career mode as an established star doesn’t offer anything different to if you choose to play as a beginner. Each tournament still has the qualifying process, and you’re just as likely to find the same opponents challenging, which really shouldn’t be the case if you’re playing as the world’s best player. Still, it’s about your skill as a player, and not the avatar you choose to play as.
Snooker 19’s career mode isn’t bad, and die-hard fans will surely enjoy it. But it lacks the depth and sense of progression that many newer sports games have managed to achieve. As a result, it feels a little like it’s been left in the past.
All that said, the actual act of playing snooker is a lot of fun. Making a shot follows three steps: choose the position, choose the appropriate spin and placement, and choose the power. It’s a very simple process, and one that works very well. It’s definitely not easy to pot more challenging balls – but it shouldn’t be. After a bit of practice, the easier shots become second nature, but the trickier hits will always add that extra challenge.
If you’re a fan of snooker, then Snooker 19 is a must have. Its realism, range of players and arenas make it the Fifa of snooker games. But the lack of depth and repetitive career mode means that Snooker 19 pots the white ball just after the black. Casual players may not find much longevity, but snooker fans will enjoy it nevertheless.