Television has been responsible for smartening up the image of snooker in recent years. It's not very long ago that to admit you played snooker or billiards and, worse still, went to a club to play was to almost admit to having a shady and decidedly dodgy character - it's a wonder what a bow-tie and waist-coat can do to improve your image.
In Billiards II, Infogrames have chosen to present the game with a very glam image, all DJs, evening dresses and hostesses. 'Imagine a billiards club, on the borders of a vast wooded park,'enthuses the blurb. It certainly makes a change from the days when most snooker halls seemed to be above Burtons the tailors.
Here you are given a choice of three types of games: French billiards, which uses three balls; American billiards, a 15 ball game; and Futuristic billiards, basically a couple of fun games played on odd-shaped tables.
Choice of game is made through a screen called the reception hall where you click on one of three doors to access the required version. You can also select one or two-player or training selections from this screen. Once the selection is made you have the option to show the colour of your money and bet on the outcome of the game.
Taking control is fairly simple. Click on the cue ball and the cue appears as a straight line. This can be moved around to get the desired shot. Once the position has been selected an icon known as the English Indicator appears. Quite why it's called this remains a mystery, but it allows you to put spin on the cue ball, and to decide the power of the stroke. Once selected, the stroke is carried out.
During play you can also access a series of icons to alter cushion and table friction, among many other options, plus an option to see play in 3D.
And that's basically it. The rest is up to your skillful play. Would-be pool hall hustlers and pot shot heroes should check it out.