Break, rattle and roll…
Snooker is a deceptive game. To the casual observer it looks easy: grab stick, hit ball into pocket. Simple. It’s not until you start playing that you realise a couple of things: balls don’t always go where you want, strategy is involved, and breaking a cue over your knee in frustration is a social faux par.
Those are the memories I have of attempting to play as a spotty London teenager in the 80′s, and International Snooker 2012 on the iPhone has helped me relive them. Except the thing with the cues. They’re only virtual.
Snooker is all about how you line up your shot. This is accomplished by swiping to aim at the ball you want to hit, then setting the strength on a sliding power meter and hitting the ball icon.
This ‘Click Click’ method (I couldn’t think of a better name for it) is slightly outmoded however. There should at least be an option for something like the more intuitive swipe based control from the iOS Tiger Woods series.
As you consider your shot, coloured lines appear showing the resultant trajectory. This makes it relatively easy to pot the ball; being able to turn this feature off and rely solely on judgement would’ve made the game more skill based.
Let me correct myself. It’s easy to pot the ball in theory. As those helpful trajectory lines appear, you can alter your aim by swiping the screen, but it can be oversensitive. Thumbs aren’t the best instruments for accuracy on the iPhone, especially if they’re as grotesque as mine, and at times the level of precision needed to score as opposed to narrowly missing the hole sees you constantly adjusting and readjusting.
The graphics are sharp and the presentation resembles a BBC sportscast. There are a number of locales ranging from the type of dingy back room I used to play in as a youth, to the swanky arena you’d see on TV while channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon. You can also save replays of your best breaks too. Sound is as good as it needs to be for a game such as this, which is to say, it does the job.
Quick Game, Multiplayer and Career modes are on offer. Quick game is self explanatory and Multiplayer throws you up against random folks from Gamecenter complete with text-chat. Career pits you against fictitious players in regular tournaments, with success earning you credits which can be used to upgrade your equipment and purchase new game types.
Interestingly, your opponents in career mode are invisible. Not that that they’re ghosts or anything, but they aren’t represented by any form of in-game character model, so zooming out between shots reveals nothing more than a disembodied cue. Perhaps I’m being picky, but this leaves Career mode feeling a little sterile; none of your opponents have any kind of personality, they’re merely names. A bit like some of my ex-girlfriends.
But where it counts, the game gets it right. Physics are obviously everything in a snooker sim and here they’re as true to life as you would expect, meaning that despite some control issues, International Snooker 2012 is a lot more fun to play than anything I experienced in my cue-snapping days at the local Youth Club. Those were the days.
International Snooker 2012 is out now on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for $6.99 (£4.99). Get it on the