Every sport has its bad boy. Whether it's Roy Keane on the football pitch, John Daly on the golf course or John McEnroe on the tennis court, these mean men bring passion, excitement and juicy gobs of controversy to any contest they take part in.
Snooker's Ronnie O'Sullivan follows in that proud tradition, turning a game that's as boring as Luton on a Sunday into must-watch TV. After the bland identikit personalities of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, OSullivan was exactly what snooker needed
But can The Rocket do the same for the crowded snooker game genre? It's quite a challenge; we're fans of Steve Davis' effort, but Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker would seem to have the necessary clout as his game is fully 3D. That means no fixed overhead view of the table (unless you want it), promising instead to get you down low over the table for a realistic view of the action.
And it's quite an impressive view. While it's all a little rough around the edges, the balls are recognisably round, and do a good impersonation of the real thing. While it is nowhere near as polished as a decent 2D representation of the sport (check out Gameloft's Midnight Pool for a good-looking 2D cue game), 3D does, in theory, make for a more involving, realistic rendition of the sport.
Realism is what developers Player One hail as Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker's greatest asset and we'd have to agree. The way in which the balls behave on the table is as close to the actual thing as we've yet seen, and while it takes some getting used to after the more user-friendly approach offered by most other snooker mobile games, the lifelike ball physics does make for a more satisfying pot.
The controls are well thought-out too, with the left soft-key changing between the four camera angles on offer and the thumbpad doing the rest. Executing a shot is straightforward. You first choose the direction, aided by a pale white line that shows where the ball is targeted, then determine any spin that you want to impart on the cue ball. You then set the power, by pulling progressively further back on the cue itself. This system allows for a great amount of control and takes a lot of time to master, particularly judging the power correctly, as there's no graded bar to measure against. Finally, a simple press of the thumbpad or 5 on your keypad sends the white ball on its way.
Simple then, but we still suggest getting in plenty of practice before taking on the tough computer competition. Although there's a mode to take on a friend in a multiplayer game, the meat of the game is the Challenge and Championship mode, where you'll face off against Ronnie and his chums. They provide a stern challenge, and any mistakes you make will be punished. This is actually a very refreshing change – too many pool game computer-controlled opponents throw you a game by making bone-headed mistakes.
That's not to say that Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker is too hard, mind. You can win – you just have to earn it. That makes reaching the top and beating the big man himself all the more rewarding. But it also means that less dedicated fans of snooker or pool should look elsewhere, because you'll need to be a determined cue clubber to get the most from this accomplished title.