World Championship Snooker 2004
Snooker isn’t notorious for setting the sport world alight with its blistering progress and trend setting developments. Last time we checked in with this particular patch of baize a year ago (see the imaginatively titled World Championship Snooker 2003), Blade Interactive had sewn up everything this sport has to offer. Last time we saw snooker on television, Ronnie O’Sullivan was still beating everyone, safety shots were still excruciatingly dull and there were a few more female referees officiating than usual. There’s clearly not much room left for expansion, so what’s a developer to do with a sport that evolves as slowly as snooker? Answer: go online. The World Championship Snooker series has always been at its best when cueing off against human opposition and so this latest addition means you can hunt down that opposition yourself, should you lose all your friends via a constant barrage of safety shots. Classic mode is also new, putting you in a set of scenarios throughout snooker history such as the final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis final, asking you to triumph from a pivotal moment in the match. Otherwise, it’s the usual sequel checklist with better graphics, easier control system and fantastic commentating. The key to success is learning how to control the cueball. That means planning several shots ahead and learning when to use topspin, screwback and side spin. Just about every real-life tactic from the snooker table can be applied here, which is testimony to the accuracy of the physics. And yes, even boring safety shots can be played, if you fancy sending the Crucible spiralling into a coma. Your opponents respond in the same manner and show consistent AI throughout, playing safety shots of their own and quite happily playing snookers to put you under pressure. Sure, learning the intricacies to draw maximum enjoyment from this game takes time but ultimately, it’s a challenge all snooker aficionados will relish. There are enough modes stuffed into this shiny disc to make this an essential purchase for any fan of the sport. Unless you’re a snooker fan who owns World Championship Snooker 2003, in which case you’ll probably want to know if this is worth the reinvestment. We’ll play a safety: if you’ve got broadband set up, then definitely, but for those without one? Well, just how snooker loopy nuts are you?