This game, as Hurricane Higgins might say, is not to be sneezed at. Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker is the work of programmer Archer MacLean, previously known for his kung-fu masterpiece lK+.
Facing stiff competition from Fire- bird's 3D Pool, you'd think there was nothing new you could add to a snooker game. You'd be wrong. JW's Whirlwind Snooker has its pockets stuffed with neat tricks which set it rest and spider abode the competition.
In the one-player game, you select one of four computer-controlled players. They have different abilities, so you can pick a level of skill to suit your own.
However, even Tom (the wimpiest player) is a real crack shot who spends all of two seconds planning, lining up and then potting you into oblivion. It's marvelous to watch, but demoralising when you get thrashed. Pick a two- human-player game if you're a beginner. At least you know both players are equally crappy.
Before you can break, you must position the cue ball. This is done by dragging it with the mouse pointer, any- where within the D. You can then add topspin for that extra roll-on, or a bit of side to curl the ball like a pro. You do this with the icons at the top or side of the screen. A small black cross shows the impact point of the cue on the ball, and it's a lot easier to read than a real cue ball.
When you're happy with positioning, the angle of your cue and the top/stun/side or spin, it's time to chalk your cue tip and whack the sucker. Various strengths of shot can be applied, with stunningly realistic results. As ball strikes ball, you notice the fluid movement which makes JW's Whirlwind Snooker so cool. You'd think you were looking at a real table, with real balls. Nothing jerks, nothing slows down or moves erratically. Balls cannon around, gradually tailing off as they run out of steam. Spectacular!
VERDICT: Strangely, it's not just the smoothness and realism which makes it a ''must have'' game. Nor is it the Jimmy White licence (it could be Fatima Whit- bread's Snooker - I'd still want it!) It's what happens when you leave it alone. If you take too long deciding a shot, then one of several things happens. Flies descend onto the table and flit about on your balls (ooer!), or the balls start pulling ugly faces at you, or waving placards. No, really!
JW's Whirlwind Snooker is enhanced by some excellent sound effects, too. Crowds clap and cheer when you pot a ball, the cue sounds perfect and the crack of ball against ball is, well, overwhelming. You can smell the beer and fags and the musty scent of the Hexagon (almost). Even when you miscue, the "twank" of your cue announces the fact to all and sundry, just like for real. It's embarrassing, really.
So, if you're bored with snooker, you're either watching too much non- interactive telly, or you're not playing this. It's more enthralling than a Steve Davis 147 break, weirder than Dennis Taylor's glasses and funnier than Ray Reardon's haircut. Get it now, but beware, you might have to "cue" for ages (groan...)