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World Championship Snooker is the ground breaking new sports sim from top development team Codemasters offering you the chance to mix it with the world's biggest stars. Carrying the endorsement of the World Snooker Association it also enables players to take to the table in The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England, surely the world's most recognized snooker venue.
Then, for the first time on Playstation, take on 20 of the world's top snooker champions, including Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, Ronnie O'Sullivan, current World No. 1 ranked player Mark Williams, along with the veteran voice and potting skills of Dennis Taylor.
Codemasters is confident of making World Championship Snooker another key brand leader in its sports games portfolio which already includes such major hits as Brian Lara Cricket, Jonah Lomu Rugby, TOCA Touring Cars, LMA Manager and Colin McRae Rally. Add the recent Micro Maniacs to this list and you have one heck of an impressive C.V. So let's see if their latest incarnation measures up...
Sound and Vision:
We received preview code for this little gem some months ago and since then it has barely left the 'station. Obviously we couldn't review the game properly until final code arrived as there were a few small niggles that needed ironing out, but it was a little like knowing a very important secret... only not being allowed to tell anyone. Sadly the launch date slipped missing out on a perfect tie-in with the recent World Snooker Championships at the Crucible. So rather than play alongside the worlds top players you will just have to try to change the outcome... unless you were more than happy with Mark Williams brilliant victory in the final.
Where better to start than the slick action intro, seemingly taken directly from BBC's TV live coverage of last year's event. Try to spot the difference as a video of real players taking on those pressure shots are intermingled and blended with some in-game polygon footage. It is possible, but you have to pay close attention showing just how good the graphics are within this game.
Green baize, eight ball colors, full 3D player models... you wouldn't think there was much to ramble on about the visual content... but there is... much more.
For starters the playing environment gradually changes as you progress through a championship. Begin the local qualifying heats in a stark drawing room with only a large glowing log fire to create any warmth. It creates almost a homely atmosphere. No officials are present and there's certainly not enough room for an audience, therefore players taking part must dutifully collect and replace their opponent's balls, while a shot-in-a-million is rewarded in... total silence. We've all been there before.
It's a far cry from the later experience when you finally make the packed Crucible where live commentators react to every single shot. Here the intelligent crowd "Ooh" and "Ah" when a ball rattles the pocket, or burst out into a manic roar when a long tricky three-quarter red sinks into the black abyss know as the pocket. Now the animated motion captured players and referees begin to move swiftly around the table to keep the pace of the game flowing along nicely. In fact it was quite a pleasure to have a referee replace a potted black back onto it's spot. This was a first for me, as I'm sure it will be for many. As a break builds up your opponent will slowly motion towards his corner and eventually flop into his seat dejectedly. I cannot tell you how satisfying that feels... something you'll have to experience for yourself by putting together a decent break.
The sound snippets add further to the whole ambiance of the TV style presentation. Dennis Taylor throws in a few (well known) gags such as "for those of you watching in black and white, the blue is next to the green", on top of calling out the scores and commenting on the action. When play begins the audience remains deadly silent. After a short while the occasional shuffle or the sound of someone coughing breaks this. As in real life once one person coughs the whole audience seem to catch the bug and begin to join in clearing their throats. It's little touches such as this that Codemasters always seem to capture.
Finally highlights are shown after every single game followed by a breakdown of statistics including averages, time played and breaks. You can even pause the game and replay every single shot from the history menu. Now that should settle a few disputes.
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