When the Xbox One Game Preview scheme was first announced, it was met with open arms. As a place for developers to throw their upcoming games, helping get a bit of support and shape from the community, the idea is a good one. I can fully see the reasons behind putting a huge open world title like ARK or Elite into it, as there is plenty of scope for amendments. But the latest title to utilise the scheme, that of Snooker Nation Championship 2016, isn’t quite in the same open world league as the others. It’s just cues, tables and a load of old balls. Isn’t it?
But the preview scheme is where it is and for a seriously low price, is likely to tempt in numerous fans of the green baize, especially when the only real option for Xbox One owners who have a penchant for strategic table potting is currently a downloadable content model for Pure Pool.
Thankfully, what is currently in place is quite exciting. With an open practice table available at will, you’ll find yourself spinning and bending balls easily. The UI is well thought out and the control system does the job you would expect, with fine tuning allowing for greater control and input. The shot power, controlled with the right stick, can be locked in place, ensuring you never find your thumb slipping or balls pinging around the table out of control. Multiple shot aim options – off, standard, championship, extended and long – will give all but the most green of snooker players the chances to show off some skills too.
When you’re happy that your skills are in place, then the chance to go ahead with a seriously comprehensive Championship mode, working your way up from qualifier to world champ is available, with differing A.I. skill levels for you to do battle with. There are both local and online multiplayer options in place too, and should be the go to point for those who prefer to go up against real people, with the latter allowing for one off matches with leagues also seemingly on the horizon.
All the gameplay options you would expect are are available and I’ve yet to experience any real huge bugs, glitches or indiscretions. Yes, it’ll occasionally crash on initial load and a couple of seconds of full on controller rumble after every shot is supremely annoying, but this only seems to happen when there is more than one controller switched on.
There are also a multitude of cue designs, table baizes and more, all purchasable with PNS, the in-game currency, and so, the more you play, the more you win and the more you will be able to unlock.
I’m still not really sure why Snooker Nation Championship 2016 is an Xbox One Game Preview title, as it’s seemingly got enough features to warrant a full release. Crashes aside, it works well and only needs a small delicate fix to have everything working wonderfully. The visuals are outstanding and ball physics work brilliantly – those are two things which a snooker title will live or die on. There is even a referee in place to help you keep track of your high breaks, but I do wish he’d stop telling the crowd to switch off their mobile phones. The repetition is more than irritating.
But it is what it is and so if you’re tempted by the chance to smash some balls around, or tactically take apart either an online or real world friend, then you could do worse than check it out.
There is currently no cemented release date for Snooker Nation Championship 2016 on Xbox One, but after checking out its current state, we’d guess it isn’t too far away. We will of course have a full review ready for its proper release.
Many thanks go to Xbox for the preview code.