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World Snooker Challenge 2005 PSP

Published by SEGA
Developed by Blade Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99

World Snooker Challenge 2005, an introduction.

Now I have to admit to being a little surprised to see a snooker game as a launch title for the Sony PSP. In fact if you look at handheld consoles in general it's difficult to think of a good snooker game on any of them. Fear not though because the game we have here, World Snooker Challenge 2005 comes with a quality pedigree. In recent times there has only been one maker of fine console snooker games and that is Blade Interactive. For years they made the World Championship Snooker series for Codemasters and recently the World Snooker Championship 2005 game for SEGA and for the most part they've been great games that have proved to be very popular.

What's the game about?

World Snooker Challenge 2005 looks and feels like a PSP version of World Snooker Championship 2005. The first thing you'll have to do is create your own custom player that acts as your profile within the game. In terms of modes World Snooker Challenge 2005 has a lot to offer. The snooker modes include Exhibition, Challenge Mode (essentially the career mode), Champion's Trophy (which is locked until you win the World Championship in Challenge mode) and a Trickshots mode. You can also arrange custom tournaments and take coaching lessons. It's not just about snooker though and various extra games, such as Doubles, Bar Billiards, Billiards, Pool (both 8-Ball and US 9-Ball) and Snooker Plus are available. The snooker players on offer include Ronnie O'Sullivan, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Paul Hunter. In fact there are over 100 snooker professionals in the game.

What's good about the game?

Unbelievably Blade Interactive have managed to make World Snooker Challenge 2005 as realistic and as enjoyable as their World Snooker Championship 2005 game. The game's feature filled with as many options as could be hoped for. Snooker is a time consuming game and thankfully you can turn off the player animations and AI shots which speeds up games quite considerably. The control scheme is practically identical to the one found on World Snooker Championship 2005 and works extremely well (although the analogue stick control doesn't feel as good as it does on the PlayStation 2 game). As with Blade's other snooker titles there are different difficulty levels that determine the amount of aiming aid you have available. On the easiest difficulty level (which uses the longest aiming aids available) even a snooker novice can end up making good breaks so it's fair to say the game is very accessible.

What's not so good about the game?

The biggest disappointment (and I'm going to be saying this a lot with the PSP launch titles that we're reviewing) is that there is no support for Internet play. You can play against a friend who owns a PSP and a copy of the game and indeed you can both play against each other on the same console taking turns. Whilst you can use the analogue stick to simulate the action of a real snooker cue it doesn't fee quite as good as it would with an analogue stick on the PlayStation 2 controller. That said it's certainly not unusable but it's certainly not the most accurate method of making good shots. I would have also liked a way to save during a game. I know this isn't much of a complaint as you can put the PSP into sleep mode but still it would have been a useful feature.

How does it look?

For their first game on the PSP Blade Interactive have done extremely well in making the game look almost identical to its PlayStation 2 counterpart. The same TV style presentation remains and I have to say it amazing to see such things on a handheld console. If you've played any of Blade's other recent snooker games you'll recognise the player animations (motion captured by snooker legend Steve Davis) and it's great to see they look just as good on the PSP.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

There was once a time when all handheld games were deaf gamer friendly. Sadly as technology advances this isn't the case anymore. Match commentary, the referee's comments and trick shot instructions are not subtitled and there are no options to subtitle this information. The tutorials use circles to highlight where the object ball should be hit (not voices to tell you where you should hit the ball) and where the cue ball should end up so at least these shouldn't cause any problems. All other information in the game is text only.

Final thoughts.

A snooker game may not be top of many gamers' wish lists for their brand new Sony PSP but if you like snooker then this is a must own title. I've been very impressed with the game and it's one that I'm going to be playing a lot of. If you have played any of Blade's other snooker titles, and enjoyed them, then you're going to want this. Even if you haven't played a snooker game in ages and have just picked up a PSP then this is a game you should seriously consider.


Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Blade Interactive have created the finest handheld game of snooker to date. World Snooker Challenge 2005 is a quality snooker experience that is simply brimming with options. A must have game for PSP owning snooker fans.