It’s been a few years since we all got to play a proper Snooker title that replicated the sport accurately. Fans of the sport have been waiting for a game that truly represents a sport that they love and thankfully after what feels like an eternity, LAB 42 stepped in with Snooker 19.
Snooker 19 is THE most accurate simulation of the sport that I’ve played in recent years and the team at LAB 42 should be congratulated for what they have achieved. How everything represented in the game is authentic to the last detail, from how the balls move across the baize after a well struck shot to the beautiful venues, like the world-famous Crucible, that the team have rendered using the Unreal Engine.
The actual gameplay in Snooker 19 is very simplistic and works well with each shot that you take. Shots vary and are performed using the LEFT stick to aim and the RIGHT stick to add power and to execute your shot. You can also fine tune your aim by holding down the LT while moving the LEFT stick for that all-important shot. If you fancy adding some spin to your shots for a better position on the table, you can hold down the RT and use the RIGHT stick to add backspin or topspin to the cue ball. Once you have lined up your shot, it’s just a matter of pushing the right stick back to start the power meter and pushing it forward to execute the shot. It feels more organic this way and it reminds me of previous golf game titles that use the same method.
Every shot that is taken by you or your opponent you get treated to a cinematic view of the action that replicates what you would see if you were watching it on TV. As each shot is taken you get a real sense of achievement when the ball drops into the pocket. When you get a close-up of the balls, you can see the reflection of lights on each ball and on the baize, you can see scuff marks from players fingers and the cue chalk. The visuals and audio in Snooker 19 are well represented and I was surprised how well everything looked, especially when playing on the Xbox One X. It’s not all magical though, as when you get a view of the players themselves, they look a bit like they were tacked on as an afterthought.
While the players have all had their faces scanned to try and accurately portrait them. It can feel like the players are not apart of the game and just tacked on which can sometimes ruin the overall experience, which is a shame when you consider how much work has been gone into the rest of the game.
With how well the game looks and how well it’s represented in terms of the visuals, when it comes to the audio it can at times be a bit of a let-down. The reason for this is when you are playing a match in a tournament, you would expect a bit more excitement at certain key points in a match. However, this is not the case and can often feel like you are the only one at the venue with many of the crowd seem to be absent. This is also more apparent when it comes to the referee and commentary team as the audio doesn’t always match what is happening on the table.
At times when you pull off a great shot you will hear the referee saying “foul” and you are left scratching your head thinking you did something wrong. The commentary in the game is provided by Eurosport’s own team Neal Foulds and David Hendon and while they do the job, I would wish that they had a bit more banter between the two during the lulls in gameplay. The two also seem to comment at the incorrect moments, like when aiming your shot and powering up, which to some can be a bit off putting. This is only a minor issue for me, but its still an issue that could be easily rectified in an update in the future.
Snooker 19’s content is a bit lacklustre when it comes to options and the game modes that are on offer. This is probably to be expect since this is the first title in what could (hopefully) be a yearly release for the team. You have Career mode that sees you play as either an up and coming star of the game or you can play as an established player from the likes of Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White to Ken Doherty. You get to play through a full season and try to raise your rank or maintain it by keeping your game up.
Other modes in the game consist of Quick Match and Online Matches and that is pretty much it. Quick Match offers up just that, a quick match where you get to choose Snooker, Shoot-out and Six reds. Each game mode offers up its own unique twist like Shoot-out where you have a shot time and an overall match timer that you must try to finish a match before the timer runs out.
In Online VS you can play against friends and random gamers online that you can search for and compete in a single frame match. To invite a friend to a match, you will both need to enter in the same invite code so that you are both matched up once you start your search. Since the Online VS games are unranked, I was hoping for more options to mess about with and feel like this was a bit of a miss hit in terms of options. These games are unranked matches and they should allow you to choose how many frames you want to play and there should be an option to choose the length of the shot and match timers or even an option to turn it off.
Online Tournament is where you get to take part in Online World Snooker tournaments that mirror their real-life counterparts as they take place live. This is a great feature to have and something I hope the team improve on in future games, but the game is still in early stages as a franchise and who knows what ideas the guys have at LAB 42, only time will tell.
Snooker 19 accurately portraits the sport in both visuals and core gameplay and while it’s not going to appeal to everyone, it will however be a MUST HAVE game for fans of the sport. If there was something missing it would be the lack of more options in the menus and a create a player option for Career and Online modes. This is a small issue that doesn’t tarnish what is an amazing snooker game!
GoG Rating: 8.5/10