Reviews

World Snooker Championship Real 2011 – Review

Release Date: Out Now!
Developer: Dark Energy Sports
Publisher:Dark Energy Sports
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes
PEGI: 3+

You can understand some games being focused on realism, despite being virtual representations of the real thing it can alow us to experience something we may never in real life; like driving an F1 car. However, other games, like WSC Real 2011, are a bit harder to understand. Why would you want a game to replicate something that anyone can try in real life? The obvious answer might be because you’re terrible at snooker in real life, and the game gives you helpful aiming aids to make you feel good about yourself.

If you do miss a shot you’ll be ok early in the game as the unknown players which usually only sink a few shots before messing up, but once you come up against the pro’s it’s all too easy to become lazy with a shot and then have to sit back and watch as the AI simply takes over the table and never lets you back on. Granted, this is a fairly common occurence in the real game, but on console it’s just plain frustrating at times.

But this review is not here to argue about realism vs escapism in videogames. No, it’s here to determine whether this game is actually any good.

Being a snooker game the physics engine that propels these shiny little balls over the table is key to the game’s success, and in this area the game developers – Darky Energy – have done a damn fine job. Balls move and bounce around the table with a convincing sense of weight and momentum making shots a case of skill and judgement instead of dumb luck and a lot of hoping.

On the table it’s the aiming aids that divide the game the most. With them on you get a helpful line which shows where the cue ball and your target ball will be going, and a dark circle which shows you where your cue ball will come to rest. With these aids on it’s very easy to play a good game, and the result is it feeling more like the game that making you good instead of your own skill. However, take the aiming aids off and everything goes the opposite way as the camera sits slightly too high above your cue during aiming which makes taking shots without the use of aids a frustrating experience.
Take your shot and the game switches to the kind of view you’d find on the TV making for a pretty immersive experience. You can rewind these shots as well, and even play them in super slow, a fact the game makes a big deal about on the back of the box.
The controls don’t feel that fluid either. While they are solid and workable, setting up a shot with spin and angle seems to take far more button presses than it really should.

If you do miss that all important shot a handy feature lets you rewind time and take it again, and again, and once more for good measure.

Most of your play will take place in the games season mode where you can edit your character using a facial editor or give him a new look, but customisation options are pretty limited. You can also put points into various stats, most of which affect the usefulness of the aiming aids, but this usually results in the game becoming even easier to play, and if you’re not using aids then most of the stats become pointless.
Season mode itself is pretty substantial with qualifying events and tournaments to enter as you make your name in the world of professional snooker. You should get a decent chunk of playtime from it all.

If you do get bored with snooker there are a few pool variables to playthrough including 8-Ball, or even Billiards.  It’s also possible to start a 8-Ball Season which plays almost the same as the regular snooker season, or you can play pool and its variants online.

Speaking of online it’s a rather bare-bones offering, though it’s hard to say what else they could really add. You’ve got basic straight matches of snooker or pool, or you can set-up and enter tournaments which can be made of mixed pool and snooker games or just a single type. It works well and with no noticeable lag.

The games presentations isn’t doing it any favors, though. During shots the balls and tables themselves do look great, and the camera angles help draw you into the game until you could believe you were watching the game on TV, but the illusion is shattered by poor character animation and equally bad facial animations and looks. The camera will also occasionally switch to a view which doesn’t show whether you potted the ball or not.
The commentator isn’t helping either. While crowd noises are pleasing and a cheer or sigh almost always come in at the right moment, the commentator is inconsistent at best, one minute claiming that you’ve got a terrible record of positional play and the next minute saying you’re one pf the best positional players he has ever seen. I’m one or the other, not both.
Throw in some clunky and outdated menus and you’ve got a rather rough presentation for the game

It’s not a welcoming game to snooker newcomers either. If you’ve just picked up this game and are hoping to learn the rules of the game, how spin affects the ball and more than you’re out of luck because the games tutorial fails to explain the rules or concepts behind the game, instead opting for a peculiar system which see’s you replicating the AI’s shots.

All said and done I enjoyed spending time playing WSC Real 11, but ultimately little has changed or been upgraded since the series last installment two years ago, and because of that it’s hard to recommend buying this at full price.

The Good:
+ Getting a beautiful break score.
+ Kicking a pro’s ass.
+ Playing some 8-Ball

The Bad:
– Rough presentation
– Incredibly easy or annoyingly trick. No middle ground
– Stat increases become pointless when not using Aiming Aids

Scores:

Graphics: 7
The tables and balls combined with good camara angles make for an immersive experience, but poor character models and animation shatter that illusion.

Sound: 6.5
There’s no music except for background on menu’s. The crown reacts to the game well, but the commentator repeats himself often and is wildly inconsistent.

Story: 0
There isn’t one.

Gameplay: 7.5
The physics powering the game are superb, but little has changed since the series previous outing.

Lifespan: 7
A fairly chunky singleplayer will last you a good while, and multiplayer will keep you busy for a few hours.

Overall: 7
Despite problems and rough presentation this is a fun game, and one that should keep snooker fans happy, but it’s a shame to see little in the way if improvements since the previous game, though what else can you really change in a snooker game?.

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