World Championship Snooker 2002
Some sport games get away with absolute murder. Take the Fifa series for instance. It comes out every year and each one is about 2% different from the last one. The same could be said for the NBA series as well as the NHL series. Fortunately there are the other kind of sports game like ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2 and Virtua Tennis. These games are pure genius and capture the magic and appeal of the real sport. After a week of playing World Championship Snooker 2002 I can honestly say that it falls into the second category.
Having played snooker simulations in the past on a PC, I was impressed with games such as Virtual Snooker and the excellent use of the back and forth motion of the mouse to simulate the cue. Of course on the PS2 we use the gamepad and although I was sceptical before I played the game it has to be said that the control system that has been adopted is great.
World Championship Snooker goes out of its way to make you feel comfortable with the game. Tucked away inside the career mode is a superb training mode. The manual is short and concise and explains the consequences of putting spin on the cueball and other important details. The game also has multiple aiming guides. The easiest of these aiming guides, beginner, allows you to see where the cueball and object ball are going to go as well as what the effects are of any spin you apply. These effects can also be seen in the overhead mode. The beginner mode allows you to get right into the game and gives you the ability to win against some of the easier opponents. The normal aiming guide is the same except that in the overhead mode the guided disappear. The advanced aiming guide is a bit of a con really as no guides are shown but after finishing with the other two guides you are not going to need any.
The game modes consists of a career mode, quick start, a single match, a single tournament and fun games. Career mode is the heart of the game and it is where you begin at the bottom of the world ranking ladder and have to progress to the top through playing in tournaments and gaining enough world ranking points. The bottom position is 65th so you'll need quite a few tournament victories to claw your way to the top spot. When you are ranked in the top 30 you'll have the chance to compete in the ultimate snooker tournament - the World Championship at the Crucible. To add flavour to the championships a host of famous players are included. Professionals such as Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Williams, Stephen Hendry and many more are all just waiting to play you. Obviously the quick start is straight into a match with no setup options to mess with. A single match and single tournament are exactly what they sound like. Fun games that consist of a few, fun, game variations that give you a break from the serious tournament modes and they range from Countdown, in which you have to take your shots within a few seconds, to Time Bandits in which you and your opponent have a set amount of time and every successful shot results in stealing time from your opponent.
The graphics in the game are very good and the presentation is identical to the TV. The match commentary is subtitled (they have to be turned on in the options menu) but the comments of the referee are not. I would say that the subtitles are just a little too small but it's great to see them in sports titles. The animation of the snooker players is the best seen since Virtua Tennis on the Dreamcast. The physics of the snooker balls are also bang on. I tried playing the game without the aiming guides and I was just as bad as I am in real life with my missed pots looking the same as they would on a real table.
World Championship Snooker 2002 for the PS2 is the best snooker game on any platform. The scope and depth of the game is astounding. If you are in anyway interested in snooker then this game is a must. It's ability to appeal to all no matter what the ability of the player, is a rare quality and when coupled with the games superb attention to detail and accurate representation of the game it makes for a truly special title indeed.
Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10 Brilliant. The best snooker experience you can get without being on the old green baize.
Quality of text: 8/10 The commentary is subtitled which must be a first for a sports title.
Graphics: 9/10 Very good, looks great with superb animation of the players.
Visual Presentation: 10/10 Looks just like the snooker on TV.
Interface:9/10 The interface is kept simple and intuitive. Another Codemasters title that makes cracking use of the gamepad.
Gameplay:9.5/10 Has to be played to be believed. It feels just like the real thing.