There hasn’t been a licensed snooker game in almost a decade, which seems unusual when you consider the popularity of the sport. Sure, it’s never going to rival FIFA or Madden, but billiards can be brilliant fun – even if you’re not necessarily a baize buff in real-life. Snooker 19, then, is the first game on the PlayStation 4 to include Ronnie O’Sullivan et al. And having sat down for a quick frame, we must admit it’s right on cue.
Due out on 17th April ahead of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield, publisher Ripstone couldn’t have timed its release date any better. Packing a roster of 128 professionals – over a dozen of which have been photo scanned – this is an authentic package, featuring every official sponsor, arena, and tournament from the real-world snooker circuit. If you’re a fan of the sport, then you’ll appreciate the attention to detail here.
While the character models can be nightmarish, the venues look superb – they’re moodily lit, with every real-world prop and advertising hoarding in place. The developer Lab42’s even worked with snooker table manufacturers to ensure that they’re modelled authentically, while the baize picks up finger-prints and marks over the course of a match. It doesn’t always look photo-realistic, but when it does it’s difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
Of course it’s the gameplay that’s pivotal, and Snooker 19 isn’t doing much differently to past snooker titles – it’s just doing it better. Each shot has a three step process: a top-down view, a first-person view, and a cinematic view. With each step you can set the power, spin, angle, cue elevation, and more. The final step of the process involves a simple stick flick, and the complexity of the shot will determine how precise you need to be.
There are multiple difficulty settings, with different aiming aids enabled depending on what you select. The career will see you selecting an established superstar and trying to maintain their ranking position, or playing as a lesser ranked player and trying to get them to the top. There’ll also be online multiplayer tournaments which will closely mirror the real-world snooker circuit, meaning that you’ll be able to challenge for the in-game world title while the tournament takes place for real.
All in all, there’s something therapeutic about snooker titles, and this looks to be the best yet. The ball physics are absolutely exceptional, with every bounce, spin, and miscue perfectly calculated on screen. We’re not convinced by the Eurosport-led commentary, and there are elements of the presentation that do show the project’s budget limitations. When you’re building up a break, though, this is as satisfying as we suspect a snooker game will ever be.
Will you be making a 147 in Snooker 19 on the PS4? Are you a fan of the real-world sport, or do you find something relaxing about these games? Sink the pink in the comments section below.