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1 Reviews

WSC Real 09: World Snooker Championship

Review: Even harder than the real thing?

WSC Real 09: World Snooker Championship is a loyal recreation of the real-life sport, a fact that'll be music to some people's ears and white noise to others.

Like the sport, WSC Real 09 can be visually unappealing, a bit slow, and will likely struggle to find much of an audience beyond dedicated followers of the green baize. For avid snooker fans though, the game will tick the right boxes and provide lasting appeal.

While some fun pool and billiards modes are offered, the heart of the game is its snooker mode, which features all of the sport's major qualifying and championship events, plus real life-stars.

But before you set off on your debut season you'll probably want to try out some of various practice/coaching modes on offer.

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Completing tutorials and challenges adds a small but welcome layer of depth by rewarding you with skill points. These upgrade your customisable avatar's game in areas like positioning and the ability to handle pressure.

While not essential against bog standard AI opponents, such skills prove highly useful when facing top ranked players as there can be very little margin for error.

The practice modes also introduce you to the game's two basic control set-ups - Real Mode Controls and Classic Controls. The first is new and deeper, enabling you to move around and analyse the table from more varied viewpoints, and to inspect individual balls and potential shot outcomes in greater detail.

However, the system's slightly fiddly and navigation feels a little clumsy in comparison to the Classic Mode Controls, which will be familiar to players with past experience of WSC games. While perhaps slightly less immersive in terms of depth, the Classic controls tend to allow for a more free-flowing game.

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We found ourselves leaning towards the traditional set-up and it didn't hamper our pot success rate one bit as we were soon racking up sizable breaks, and this is where the main fun lies.

Aiming and positional aids help you gauge the direction and final resting point of your target and cue ball without being overly generous. Multiple viewing angles, including a top down perspective, give you a good awareness of how best to approach a shot, although on occasions the camera with which you rotate around the table can be a little inflexible.

Anyone who's ever played snooker knows that professional players make it look very easy when in fact it's the opposite. The game's ball physics are realistic and finely tuned so a willingness to toil on the practice tables in order to upgrade cue power and trajectory, or to develop spin, stun, swerve, jump and trick shots offers ample reward.

Sinking a long pot or a plant, escaping from a snooker or notching up a 100-plus break has never felt so satisfying and will keep fans coming back for more.

While it doesn't greatly hamper the general experience or negatively impact gameplay, the visual presentation of WSC Real 09 is underwhelming. It looks disappointing when compared to the almost photo-realistic levels other sports titles are starting to reach.

A lack of polish is most evident in the robotic AI characters who often appear rigid and uncomfortable when cueing and striking shots. The bland-looking audiences at the game's multiple venues also lack sheen and the title suffers from overly lengthy load times too.

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The BBC branding, from the scoreboards and commentary to the match coverage, which is viewed from TV-like camera angles as default or from a top down perspective if you hit Y, partly succeeds.

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