Snooker’s perhaps at its most exciting when Ronnie O’Sullivan is complaining about the stench of tournament venues and Mark Williams is hosting press conferences in the nude. There’s none of the side-theatre in Snooker 19, though: just good honest baize buccaneering with 128 of the world’s top professionals.
While there has been plenty of billiards on the PlayStation 4 since launch, this is the first fully licensed instalment of the generation. Every venue from the real-world circuit is represented, including the Crucible in Sheffield and the Alexandra Palace in London; dozens of the players have been face-scanned, so they look uncannily like their flesh-based counterparts.
And the game plays nicely, even if it is a little light on features and modes. Shots are performed using a three-tier setup mechanic, which provides you with an overhead view, a third-person view, and then a cinematic view. You cue using a flick mechanic on the right analogue stick, and higher difficulties demand more accuracy than the easier settings.
You can apply top-spin, back-spin, and side; you can also alter the cue’s elevation, and determine the shot’s power. It feels like you have full control over every shot, and poor positioning or a missed pot will always come down to your own personal execution, rather than unrealistic physics. There could have been more aiming aid options to be fair, but this is a minor gripe.
While the title plays well, it is a bit thin in terms of content. The career mode sees you either selecting an established player or a rising star, and you’re tasked with effectively playing through a full season, either trying to raise your rank or maintain it. It’s not particularly exciting, but it gets the job done we suppose. There’s plenty of stat tracking to keep you engaged.
Outside of that, there’s a Quick Match mode which can be played in local multiplayer. You can opt to turn on a shot counter or truncate the games by limiting the number of reds on the table to six, but again, these are your only real options. Online play mirrors the real-world snooker season, so currently you can compete for the World Snooker title as it takes place live.
There’s very little else to speak of here, though. The commentary provided by Eurosport’s esteemed panel is stilted, and sometimes downright incorrect. Meanwhile, the broadcast-style presentation looks photorealistic at times – although the players can seem waxy, and there are some aliasing issues which hurts the overall appearance.
Snooker 19 cues nicely, and all of the licensing will delight fans of the real-world sport. The game does feel a bit barebones in terms of modes, but it’s also retailing at a budget price point. All in all, when it comes to niche sports, this is one of the better executed packages on the PS4.