This Isn’t Pool
Not to be confused with the 8-ball or 9-ball games of pool, Snooker 19 prides itself on creating a simulation of this sophisticated game. There is no reason fans of the game (sport?) should not enjoy their time with this Ripstone Games release but if you have no idea what Snooker is you might be better off playing a pool simulation instead.
Being honest, I am pretty ignorant when it comes to Snooker. Therefore, I was a bit disappointed in the complete lack of a Snooker rules tutorial. Upon first firing up the game, a quick control tutorial greets the player. Essentially aiming with one stick and use the other to shoot, control is easy and intuitive. The player can even use the trigger button for super precise control and makes it easy to put spin on the ball. However, the game just assumes you already know the rules of Snooker. At least there is a tiny-font description hidden deep within the game’s options screen that boringly explains the rules of the game. Between this and some trial and error, I was able to figure out how to play Snooker, albeit not very well. As a basic summary, two players are tasked with pocketing red balls and colored balls of varying point values, alternating each shot, on a huge pool table.
Snooker 19 has gone out of its way to create an authentic experience. Besides featuring a roster of professional players I have never seen before, there are numerous real world venues although they play exactly the same just with a different background. Perhaps the strangest gameplay mode is the career option. Here, players select a character and then try to climb the Snooker ranks by playing well. There is no create-a-player option for this, however, so playing as a pre-made character seems disconnected and false. Other than this, the career mode is exactly as you would expect.
Hardcore fans will probably get the most enjoyment out of the multiplayer offerings. Available both locally and online, players can increase their rank by winning matches, unlocking cosmetic features along the way. Thanks to the Unreal 4 engine, everything looks realistic from the way the balls ricochet and reflect light, to detail in the background. The only thing unrealistic is how the characters move as they often have creepy, soulless stare on their unflinching face. The AI is also pretty ruthless even on the lower difficulty. For a Snooker newbie like me, I got absolutely smoked every match. The hardcore fans should appreciate the higher difficulty and there are even several Achievements based around it. It is also a bummer all the playable characters play exactly the same, there is no option to chalk your cue, and would have been cool to customize your stick with a leveling system like any modern RPG.
While I still prefer a good game of 9-ball over Snooker, there is no denying that Snooker 19 is a simulation title made with some polish. While the character creator and tutorials might be lacking, fans should be enthusiastic about the realistic presentation, competitive nature, and intuitive play control. If Snooker isn’t your thing, you can always check out the Pure Pool series by Ripstone as well.
Also available on PC, PS4 and coming soon to Switch.
Not As Good As: having a pool table in your basement
Better Than: foosball
Wait For It: Pure Air Hockey