When it comes to the digital representation of sports within video games, they can have a varying degree of success. If they don’t nail the true physics of the sport, elements of authenticity and a realistic or televisual presentation, it can produce a lacklustre experience that fails to cross the finish line; making it more of a substitute to the first team players of its genre. For me, the majority of games that fail in what they are trying to achieve fall into two categories: Football or Soccer and Snooker or Pool. Some are successful world beaters, such as the Fifa franchise which has dominated its sport for over twenty years. As for snooker or pool though, despite some valiant efforts, this has largely been a sport that hasn’t produced a go-to product in its digital variations. That might be all about to change though, as Lab 42’s Snooker 19 pockets a release onto the Nintendo Switch.
Published through Ripstone, this digital representation of the sport holds enough greenery on its baize with an official license that boasts over one-hundred of the world’s top players; all of which have been photographically scanned, as well perfect recreations of every event and venue from the World Open to the Crucible. That, at least, is a level of authenticity. However, that’s not all, as a true televisual presentation of camera angles, scores and commentary, as well as a physics engine that smacks the cue call into a level of realism propels this game into the most definitive representation of its sport ever produced.
So that’s three out of three: authenticity, realism and physics. However, what makes this game all the more remarkable on the Switch, is there is no loss of fidelity when compared to its other versions on the powerhouse consoles of the PS4 and Xbox One. You get the full package here, single player career modes, online and local multiplayer, all the players and venues; all presented in a glossy sheen that holds no textural downgrade, fogginess or washed-out contrasts. This is Snooker on the go in a rich and detailed palette. There are a couple of flaws, such as certain player animations and a repetitive commentary, but these are also present on other versions of the game and not just a downgrade in performance in order to make it viable on our beloved hybrid console.
There are a variety of game modes on offer, from quick frames to online matches and tournaments, plus two career modes that allow you to play as an established star of the sport or choose to play as an up-and-coming starlet in order to rise the ranks to world champion. These are also complimented with an extensive array of records that highlights your overall performance and displays a trophy cabinet from all your championship wins. Whatever mode you play, each one can be customised to suit your level of play from the amount of frames played, visual aids and difficulty level. However, whether you play on easy or hard, the level of AI opponents always presents you with a challenge that demands the best from you.
The mechanics of the ball movements and cue strikes have been superbly recreated within this game. With a variety of shot types and control movements, the level of accuracy and range of options here is unprecedented. Along with the usual guide-lines and camera angles, you can also fine-tune your aim, apply spins and even curve the cue ball to pull off the trickiest of shots. You can even set the amount of shot power, which is utilised by adjusting a slider which then acts as your shot gauge as you pull back on the right analogue stick and push it forward when you hit the desired strength. It all adds to produce an easily accessible control scheme, but one that is fiendishly difficult to master.
The level of realism within the mechanics of the game will be heaven-sent for any snooker-playing purists. The game really does punish you for your mistakes, but at the same time, playing the perfect game is equally rewarding. Its level of detail, in terms of gameplay, may be off-putting for some, but if you stick with it and learn all of its intricacies, you are left with a game that no longer snookers you, but presents a version of the sport that can easily rival playing it for real. It’s within this ability that makes this game the most definitive, digital recreation of the sport that I have seen to date.
With two extensive career modes, there’s plenty here to keep the game going over the long-term. However, another jewel in its crown comes in the form on live online tournaments that change throughout the season. These not only offer another level of longevity, but also provide a series of special awards that are won through your own personal performance. However, during the periods when no tournaments are live, you can continue practising against the field with its online play in general. Even friends and family can join in, with a local multiplayer that allows you to gain bragging rights with your nearest and dearest as you sink the final pot black.
Everything here is finished off with a presentation that gleams as brightly as the reflection from the coloured ivories of the balls themselves. There’s a satisfying level of realism within the facially-scanned players to the perfect recreation of venues, but within the elements of its atmosphere, it soaks to a level that forces you to crack open the beer as chalk your cue ready for the next shot. Although somewhat repetitive with its limited vocabulary, the commentary does a suitable job of describing the action; even down to highlighting the pocket in which your going to play. However, its the general ambience that shines, with general applause and genuine delight when you pull of a particularly special shot; it’s that immersive that I swear I even heard the odd cough or two from the audience as I lined the next approach.
Overall, Snooker 19 presents the most realistic version of its sport within a digital format. Everything here has been perfectly replicated, from the general physics of ball reactions and movements to the overall presentation in its televisual style. It’s that good, that you could easily be forgiven in thinking that you were watching a real-life televised match. Sure, some animations are a little janky and the commentary repeats every now and again, but overall, it feels and looks as realistic as you can possibly get. Something that is even more wondrous with this release on the Switch. Its pixel-perfect without any sacrifice; even in hand-held mode. If you’re a fan of Snooker, or of sport in general, then Snooker 19 is well worth having a pot at.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Snooker 19 Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Snooker 19 plays the perfect shot to present the definitive version of the sport on the Nintendo Switch.