“Snooker loopy nuts are we…” Ok so that’s enough of that, it’s bad enough having Big Break on TV on Saturday nights here in the UK. Don’t let that put you off though because Jimmay White is back in yet another snooker title, Jimmy White’s Cueball World from Virgin Interactive and developer Awesome. Time to hit the tables and find out what Mr White is offering up this time round.The Jimmy White series has always been known as the best of the bunch as far as snooker titles are concerned, there’s more to it than just creating flat table with a bunch of balls moving around on top, it’s all about the ‘feel’ and physics. Cueball World is another venture into creating an even more definitive snooker title and this time they have included a few extras to entice you back to the table.Cueball World not only features snooker, as you would expect, but also now adds the games of pool and billiards to the package. Pool is every pub goers favorite past time so it makes sense to add what is essentially a scaled down version of snooker. Snooker is snooker but there are numerous variations on the rules of pool so Awesome have included just about every version I can think of in the game, UK rules, US 8 Ball rules and US 9 Ball rules.There are a few smaller additional games which have also been added, there’s darts, Thumb War where you have to press a key as fast as you can, Maze which involves moving a ball through a maze by tilting the table and getting the ball to the end in as quick a time as possible, and finally Stunt Tables. This last game is probably the best the bunch and will test your speed and ability to get balls slotted away even with various obstacles in your way. There’s one catch with these extra games, you need to beat the AI players in the more conventional games before these will unlock. If you’re not interested in this sort of stuff then no matter but they do act as an incentive to win games.The most important thing about a snooker, pool or billiards title is the game mechanics and Awesome have done a great job to create a system that will work for just about anyone. You have two ways to control your shot, one is to use the mouse to control the power of the shots by holding it over the cue and moving it backwards or forwards as hard as you think you should hit the cueball. This may not be to everyone’s taste so you can bring up a menu which has a power slider which you drag back as far as you need depending on power required. On this menu you can also adjust the spin on the cueball to give total accuracy of shot. If your a little rusty you can also add in the guide lines which will help you position the angle of the shot and again this is an optional extra.It has to be said that Cueball World is a great looking game. Each game you play can be played in different ‘worlds’, or locations if you prefer, but you need to beat opponents to unlock each one. The locations are really nicely done, each world looks very polished, whether it’s in a plush room, on a beach or in a jungle. Oh, and look out for weird creatures or objects moving about in the background, they’re just another piece of eyecandy to keep you busy while your opponent takes a shotThe main player view in the game is the full 3D view which gives you complete movement around the table including zoom and angle, this is the most authentic way to play the game and also probably the easiest. There’s a variety of angle controls which can be changed by holding down mouse buttons and swiveling around or you can simply use the keyboard hot-keys. The other view is a top-down table view which some gamers may prefer. The 3D view looks superb as you move and swivel the cue, it’s been implemented very well and it’s easy to handle..Playing on your own is no fun (but is optional) so there are a variety of AI opponents to test your skill against. One thing that’s a bit weird with the AI is each opponents ability. One minute you can be playing the same AI opponent who is completely useless and then in the next game the same AI player will suddenly be really good and wipe the floor with you. You always have to expect the unexpected in Cueball World. The AI is represented by a pair of hands which float about the table, show various gestures to express mood as well as controlling the cue, it’s all pretty surreal. The biggest gripe with the game is the speed of the AI, it can take what seems like ages to think about and take the next shot. The AI is certainly no Hurricane Higgins and may put some people off.Once you start winning games you can move on to the other tables in the different locations, but should you lose, Mr White will pop up with his cheeky c**ney charm and commiserate you on your terrible performance. Like you need to be reminded about how bad you just played ;)The game’s sound is pretty minimal but the clatter of the balls against each other and the cue has been recreated perfectly. There are also various environmental sounds depending on where you are playing, the whole experience is actually quite mellow.So has Cueball World brought life back to the snooker sim on the PC? Despite the fact that the only real incentive is to get to the next ‘world’ to check out the scenery or unlock a new mini-game, it works pretty well. If you think about it, it doesn’t matter where you are playing it’s what you are playing. The biggest complaint has to be the AI speed, it really could have been cranked up a few gears to keep the game zipping along. If you can live with AI that’s sluggish at times then you won’t be disappointed, the game ‘plays’ great and that’s what matters. The idea of knocking balls round some baize stretched across a flat table is back and Mr. White and Cueball World certainly delivers.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.