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World Snooker Championship 2005

World Snooker Championship (WSC) 2005 is quite certainly the best snooker simulation to date.  With over 100 professionals to choose from, as well as the option to create your own custom players, this game takes us farther into the field of play than ever before.  Since itís predecessor, WSC 2004, the gameplay has been tremendously improved and some ground-breaking new features introduced.  ĎDoubles Playí is available for the first time, allowing you and your friends to get together on single table and see which pair just canít be beaten.  Vast improvement have also been made to the graphics, each player now yielding unique animations and facial expressions, all captured by snooker pro Steve Davis.  A new online ranking structure including voice support has been introduced, as well as a range of new camera views including TV style camera and cue cam.  This all adds up to make a game that any snooker fan should be proud of.

I can tell you that the gameplay is incredibly smooth, with fantastic animations and player movement.  As with every game, certain options result in a greater challenge such as turning off cue support or simply increases the opponentís level of IQ, though I myself find Normal mode challenging enough!  When taking a shot the camera will change to TV style, giving you the feel of watching a live match, before going in for a close-up of the pot.  The graphics really do deserve a lot of praise and Iím sure Blade Interactive spent a hefty budget in that area.  They really are quite a large improvement from the previous yearís edition and until the PS3 is released I doubt we can expect these amazing graphics to get much better, simply because the PS2 isnít powerful enough (and thatís saying something!).

For those who havenít played any of the previous editions but are still interested in this one Iíll run by some of the basics.  Shots are taken with the help of an aiming aid (coloured arrow) which displays the target ballís general direction as well as that of the cue ball.  For example, if you lined up a shot and applied deep screw a yellow arrow would show the target ballís route across the table and a second blue arrow would show that of the cue ball, which in this example would run back toward the player (hence the screw).  Due to the fact that the arrows donít run right to the pocket it requires some skill to accurately pot a ball, as well as take into consideration the cue ballís positioning, which only adds to the challenge.  To start with you may find yourself getting a little impatient with the game, especially when you are repeatedly beaten by low-ranking AI players, but I assure you after a little practice your performance should rocket sky high and your enjoyment of the game along with it.  Perhaps that is my only criticism: even the Normal mode can be a little tough for the average gamer, forcing many to start on Easy.   Though I suppose if you want to play with the professionals you better start playing like one.

All the top snooker venues around the world are visited as you play your way through tournaments and cups, frame after frame beating down all those challengers.  Iíve had my copy for months and, although other games are equally addictive, still havenít finished the World Tour which just goes to prove it as a game of patience and skill, requiring hours upon hours of tactical shots and wise decisions.  Like the real game it will have you jumping with joy but also fuming with rage - all the symptoms of a great simulation!

The commentary and audio have improved significantly.  No longer are the same phrases repeated again and again with a tone that doesnít really match the feel of the moment.  Many more lines have been included, each of them working to great effect with the corresponding shot or situation, and two new commentators (John Parrot and Steve Davis) join John Virgo in the almighty box.  The three work in harmony pulling off some of the best commentary I have heard in any sports game.  Much of the fantastic audio has remained from the last edition, perhaps the quality being touched up here and there (though it was already great), and the old music being replaced by some fresh tunes.  All in all this section scores very highly, much like the rest of the game.

Just thought Iíd confirm that this game is indeed multi-player.  The online facilities are excellent and from a gamerís point of view nothing more could be desired.  Another few points to note down is that there are now pool and billiard tables as well as a brand new trick-shot area, each making this game all the more attractive to certain buyers.  I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in snooker (or pool for that matter) and encourage them to purchase what might be remembered as one of the best PS2 simulations.  Hereís a round-up:

Gameplay: 93%
Graphics: 90%
Audio: 92%
Replay: 97%
Multi-Player: 96%
Overall: 94%

Copyright © 2005 Mike Montgomery

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