May 10, 2011

Game Review: World Snooker Championship2011

Game Review: World Snooker Championship2011

The main single-player mode in WSC Real 11 is Season, in which you create a new snooker player and start at the bottom of the world rankings. You can change your player's facial appearance and outfit, but the options available are limited, and the results tend to look a little like zombies. Once you've created your slightly undead-looking character you can take to the tables in qualifying rounds for all of the real tournaments from the 2010/11 snooker season. Early in Season mode, you may frequently lose matches and find it tough to progress to the later rounds of tournaments, but even when you lose you still earn experience, which can be used to upgrade your character.

Eventually, you get further into each tournament and start playing against famous faces from the world of snooker, such as cover star Ronnie O'Sullivan and Graeme Dott. Depending on your understanding of snooker, competing for the top places in tournaments can feel very slow because there is no option to change the AI difficulty to improve your results. WSC Real 2011 is a game that really wants you to learn how to be a better player, so while the early stages of Season mode can be frustrating, every win is incredibly rewarding.

In addition to Season mode, you can play a separate season of 8-ball pool in 8 Ball mode. Season mode is time consuming due to the length of real-world snooker frames, so 8 Ball offers a much faster alternative. You play as the same character from Season mode and still earn experience. Therefore, playing the pool season continues to make you a better player for the more complex snooker season, while thankfully not feeling like a grind. There's also a Quick Play mode and a Versus mode for local multiplayer, in addition to the online multiplayer. To help you practice your game, there's Free Play, which lets you take shots without an opponent, and Tutorial, which teaches you the controls. Unfortunately, Tutorial mode does little to help you understand snooker's complex rules. There are detailed rules listed in text in the options menu, but the game doesn't make learning the sport engaging for newcomers.

Once you're in a match, WSC Real 11 can be played in two different ways using the standard controller. The first method involves setting power and spin for shots using sliders, and then pressing the A button to play the shot. This is a very simple way for newcomers to get used to picking the correct shots, especially when it's combined with the excellent aiming aid and positional aid. The aiming aid shows you the approximate path of the cue ball and the first ball that the cue ball will come into contact with. The positional aid shows approximately where the cue ball will come to rest after the shot is played. These tools help you learn the nuances of aiming a perfect pot, while still preparing the position of the cue ball for a subsequent shot, or safety. The aids can also be turned off for experienced players looking for a more authentic experience. Snooker fans may also prefer the second, manual option for taking shots. This uses movement of the right analogue stick to simulate your cue action, making for a far more engaging style of gameplay compared to setting shot parameters on sliders and executing with a simple button press. It works very well if you put in the time needed to get used to playing your shots manually. Sadly, there's no Kinect support in WSC Real 11, which is a disappointment considering how well cue action could translate to motion control.

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