Bowling games are a rarity in the gaming world, not to mention the PC world. With the lack of competition, THQ ported their Playstation game of Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling, adding the number of people that can play in a multiplayer game to 32 (Originally 6.). Billed as the game with the most realistic control and physics available, it lives up to its claim. It is even supported by Brunswick Bowling (The leading supplier of bowling products.), and 13 of its players you can choose to play as. There are three words that should be kept in mind though, it is bowling.
Graphics: 13 / 20
Graphics are generally well done, except for two areas. The bowlers, bearing realistic texture mapping, move smoothly and realistically. The pins and the bowling ball are also well done. The one area, mentioned earlier, that isn't well done is the crowd. The crowd consists of very pixelated bitmaps, therefore, in some camera angles, they and angled and look like flat boards for a crowd. Very ugly. The second area that needs refinement is the Cosmic Bowl. Instead of opting for a realistic setting with lighting, THQ decided to just color the bowlers in funky colors (Purple bowlers, neon orange balls, etc.). This looks highly unrealistic. There is not much to be said for the graphics (Since it is a bowling game), but overall, it's decent.
Sound: 8 / 15
Similar to the graphics, the sounds are what u expect from a bowling sim, the sound of pins being knocked down, the ball rolling down the aisle, the crowd cheers, and that's about it. The lack of variety of sounds adds no touch to the game. The sound made by the pins and the balls are believable to mimic their real life counterparts. The only sounds you hear, however, besides the ball and the pins are 3 different crowd noises, the crowd cheering after a good shot, the crowd groaning after a bad one, and the crowd gasping if a pin is rolling to be knocked down. This bland sound would be helped by a Play By Play feature, but that was nowhere to be found, therefore, the sound stays bland.
Gameplay: 20 / 30
The control consists of aiming the ball towards the pin. The accuracy and the power of the shots depend on the timing of your click in the 2 bars that is filled quickly. Spins are setup when you aim for the pins. This makes the control very easy to learn. There are three levels of difficulty, rookie, amateur, and pro, available, the harder levels showing you less of where the ball is going to go. There are also 2 different type of games, normal and skins. Normal games can also be played in many ways, Exhibition, Tournament, Career, Practice, and Cosmic Bowl. I have to question the difficulty though. Playing on rookie in the first tournament, I faced Alan Baba in the first round. Being the easiest setting, I hoped to challenge Craig Chisvin. By the 5th frame however, I was done for (Being behind -34.). The computer opponent, only after playing 3 games, finally misses a shot. Almost all the time, they either spare or strike the bracket, bowling 220+. This extremely hard AI can be frustrating for beginners, or intermediate gamers for that matter. The overall physics is realistic to its real life counterparts. Now if I can just put up any sort of challenge to these damn computer bowlers.
Fun Factor: 10 / 20
This is where it's hard to judge. While it does provide a realistic setting and environment for a bowling game, it gets really boring after about 30 minutes of play. The extremely hard opponents doesn't help much either. As a conclusion, if you like bowling games, and enjoy playing it for hours and hours, then this game will entertain you. But for the people that gets bored after 5-10 games in the bowling alley, this is not much different.
Multiplayer Play: 5 / 5
Multiplayer over the LAN and the Internet is available to play up to 32 players. Although if you do decide to play with 32 players, finding other things to do while the 31 other people take their shots might be a wise idea.
Overall Impression: 6 / 10
Overall, this game is the best bowling game available. But with that being said, there is a reason that bowling game are rare in the gaming world. That reason being that it gets extremely boring after a few minutes of play, especially after being decimated by your opponents.
People who downloaded Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling have also downloaded:
Alley 19 Bowling, PBA Bowling for Windows 95, Links 2003, Brunswick Billiards 3D Pro Pool, Virtual Pool 3, Kingpin: Arcade Sports Bowling, Fast Lanes Bowling, British Open Championship Golf
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