International Snooker Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

International Snooker 2014 Carousel1

International Snooker Review




Snooker can often to be referred to as the game of kings amongst the massive following it current holds. Whilst it boasts 14 major ranking tournaments and many more unranked across the face of the globe it is quite obvious to see its popularity grow from its origin, devised by the British themselves. Yet Snooker is very much a marmite sport, you either love it or you hate it, which often divides lovers of any sport and going further, probably explains the reason for the lack of a gaming franchise that Fifa and UFC have been so ready to exploit the cash flow. There hasn’t been a snooker title available since Hustle Kings back in 2012 for the Playstation 3 and Vita while previous cringe worthy titles include Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker and Jimmy White’s 2: Cueball clearly show casing endorsement at its best. With the shocking lack of snooker titles is there a market for a new game perhaps leading Snooker into a new generation?

International Snooker is a casual sports game developed by Big Head Games and published by Kiss Ltd. Big head have created games for the best part of ten years in which time have developed several games including, most famously, Doodle Jump and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, both phone and tablet games. They have several games in their portfolio but their main focus has been on the release of International Snooker on multiple platforms including the tablet and PC. The game is surprisingly a sequel to the 2012 edition that became a rapid success on IOS and App stores but how does the current title rate.

As you can imagine, there is no story featured in the game with no focus drawn on any character, but is broken up into three game modes including career, quick match and multiplayer. The career is extremely basic, offering only a list of tournaments to complete in a particular order. It hardly boasts the management options that a game like Fifa does, however you are just one man and not a team of rich millionaires. As you progress through the tournaments you will face several different AI opponents until you consistently beat enough to secure the victory in the tournament. This will give you prize money that you can spend in the in-game shop and you will receive a trophy that can be viewable in your in-game trophy case. The campaign is basic and adds nothing to the title apart from the incentive of cash to spend.

The gameplay is as envisioned, a series of bars and guides to direct a player to take a shot, all of which surround the screen. Some of the predictable options include the power bar slider, allowing players to choose how much power to put behind the white ball, ball curve that allows for tricky shots to be pursued by Snooker wizards and finally, the adjustable positioning of the shot, allowing players to click and drag to change the angle of the shot creating the dynamic feel that Snooker players know and love. Whilst these are all fairly generic in the genre they work smoother then most Snooker games I confess to have played. All movement seems to work with exception of placing the white ball after a foul. It is hard to move it with a mouse, hinting at this games original conception on a touch screen.

Other options include chalking the ball, a recent replay and a choice between two views. The chalking seems to have no impact on the quality of shot, even though the game reminds you every time you forget to use it, but the two views are essential. Whilst one shows a first person perspective of the shot about to be taken the second is an eagle eye, extremely useful for confirming the correct angle. Changing the angle in this view is awkward at best so it is advised you change back to first person to tweak and adjust. The replay shows up to the last five seconds of the last shot, which is a nice feature but its appearance is questionable due to its lack of use.

Due to the nature of the game, it is generally quite slow meaning a considerable amount of time watching your opponent. The developers have obviously though about this and added a AI speed button allowing you to adjust the hast of the opponent, creating a quicker turn around.

The user interface containing all of the, above, options is large causing minor emersion breaking distractions from gameplay. Large circular buttons surround the screen causing the inability to look around at the environment properly. The buttons are clearly there due to its release on tablets and for its use on touch screens, however most computers don’t use that technology so it should have been adapted and correctly ported for the correct audience. Whilst the buttons are huge, it is worth stating none cover the table or any important elements directed to gameplay.

Whilst there are a few problems regarding the user interface there is a nice bar towards the bottom displaying the players name and score, the type of overlay graphic you would see on television. It is a handy tool for viewing the current score as well as it displaying what colour ball you need to hit next. This is a nice addition to a rather questionable U.I.

Most locations feature audiences who, surprising, are extremely realistic. As shots are taken there is silence and the odd cough which captures manly Snooker audiences perfectly. When difficult shots are pulled off there are cheers and applause and when some are missed, gasps and boos are heard that shockingly effect you. There is some movement amongst the crowd but not much leaving members of the audience static and as there are about five to ten faces repeated it can break immersion, however if you focus on the gameplay and avoid analyzing every aspect, the crowd many seem impressive.

There are sixteen arenas in total, which is a rather impressive amount and all of which are unlocked through the career. The arenas each boast their own layout and audience size but are similar rooms with exception of the practice pool hall featured in quick match and the exclusive club unlocked from the shop. Some aesthetics may change but the room is effectively the same but with a different arrangement of props. This may be disappointing for some people but due to the nature of the game, you only see segments of the arena at one time so vast development may be a waste. In my opinion, they missed an opportunity. This is the colour of the tables. To signify the change of arena or event, they could have had a design on the table itself representing the change and allowing the player something else to look at.

It is quite clear that multiplayer was not the focus for this title. As well as the empty online lobbies filled with a grand total of zero players the customization is fairly limited in regards to your profile. Whilst you can change your name, anything personal like a photo or a tagline are non-existent. Instead they are replaced with unimportant factors like the type of wood used for the cue, coloured chalk, left or right handed and which country you live in. This is very basic to say the least. If you were hoping for a multiplayer experience with this title, you will unfortunately be unimpressed and disappointed.

The shop isn’t much better. Using the credits earned from victories from tournaments on the career mode you have a less then extensive choice of fewer than ten options. Some of these include buying different cues, a collection of chalk, access to the exclusive club (effectively another arena), the ability to automatically add chalk to your cue before taking a shot and different game modes including US 8-Ball, UK 8-Ball and US 9-Ball. Apart from the latter, these options are fairly pitiful and lack creativity. I imagine many of these including the cues and chalk were implemented into the shop for use on online player, however due to the lack of uptake, on the PC version at any rate, they seem to be worthless. I like the idea of the unlockable game modes and only wished they pushed further with that idea.

Strangely I did have fun with this title due to its familiar control and satisfying achievement once you pot a tricky shot. The game is certainly made for a beginner rather then a pro due to the prompts and severe hand holding, which for a person like me is great but for a professional or avid fan will not be and at times will be annoying and even patronizing. It does have potential as a good title but extremely under values the PC audience due to the developers laziness in implementing newer aspects like an appropriate user interface. I would certainly advise to take a look at the tablet edition due to the fact it was made for that platform and I have a feeling the multiplayer may be busier. As it stands, the game is fun but unfortunately lacking in many ways.