Can England take the Ashes?
This review originally posted at MentalGamers – www.mentalgamers.com/game_reviews.php?r=36
I’ve never played a cricket video game before so I really didn’t know what to expect of EA Sport’s Cricket ’07. It feels a lot like the FIFA series in terms of the menus and soundtrack though, so I instantly felt quite at home. A quick flick through the manual and the quick control guide left me pretty confused with mentions of googlies, zooters and flippers as I don’t really follow cricket, so I decided to jump into the training mode: the nets.
The “big” feature of Cricket ’07 is EA Sport’s new Century Control Stick control method for batting. This is supposed to allow for a much more intuitive batting experience with you being able to control the power and direction of your shots with a simple flick of the analogue stick on a gamepad, along with the choice of having the camera placed behind either the bowler or batter. I should point out that you can use just keyboard and mouse but the manual and game are quite obviously designed to be played with a game pad. Out with the Saitek pad again then. It soon became clear that something wasn’t right when I stood up to bat and no matter what I tried my batsman just left every ball, unless I used the shortcut buttons for certain defensive shots. I scoured the internet high and low and eventually found out that there are a very limited number of compatible controllers. I also found out that there is a registry “hack” that at least allows partial control, all though you lose control of the power of shots – everything is hit at full pelt. I won’t post it up here as messing with your registry is not for the inexperienced. If you need to do this you can find the information yourself using your preferred search engine.
Once I’d got the controller “hacked” I went back to the nets. Ahhhh now this feels better. Essentially you just flick the control stick in the direction you want the ball to go. If you want more full control, you can also choose to manually whether you take the shot on your front foot or back, and you can put the camera behind the batsman (looking at the bowler) if you want the authentic feel, or you can leave it at the default of behind the bowler. Another feature is your confidence bar – The more shots you successfully hit, the more confident you become and the bigger the “sweet spot”, allowing you to hit better and more accurate shots.
Next was bowling practice and to be honest with you I just don’t like it… I can’t get the hang of it at all. You choose the type of delivery you want to play by hitting the corresponding button before you begin your run up. Once you have set the delivery you have to “lock” the delivery, in other words move a target cursor around and tap a button to lock it where you want the ball to land. You then have to stop the power meter before you step over the line and get a “no ball”. It doesn’t exactly sound easy, but not too complicated either. The problem I find is that the second two steps are performed during the run up and the target cursor moves around pretty wildly, and I seem to throw more wide balls than anything else, and even when I get the targeting right I usually run too far for a no ball… If you manage to bowl well however, your confidence bar grows and you can choose to bowl a “special” delivery such as a yorker or bouncer when it fills completely.
After a bit of practice in the nets though, I felt I was ready for a limited overs exhibition match: Australia vs. USA, with me playing Australia of course. In theory it should have been a walkover. I elected to bat first and in no time at all I was all out for… wait for it… 0. Disaster, the USA only needed 1 run to win so what did they do? Hit a 6 off my first delivery of course. Thoroughly disheartened I went back to the nets for a few hours before trying again. I still haven’t managed to win a match yet, but at least I got a bit further in subsequent attempts.
After playing some proper matches there’s more I should mention. The other aspect of bowling is the fielding, but there’s not much you can do as there are only automatic and semi-automatic modes for fielding. In automatic mode you don’t have to touch a button, and in semi automatic mode you can only choose the power of the throw and whether to throw to the wicket keeper or the bowler. This coupled with the tricky bowling method left me thoroughly bored with the bowling experience, batting is far more enjoyable.
The graphics are nothing special although I’m told the players are recognisable, and some of the equipment manufacturers have got their logos in there. Sound wise it’s fairly dull. The music in the menus is great but you don’t get to listen to it in-game, which is a shame because there’s just no atmosphere. The commentary I found to be pretty dire overall.
As for game modes, there’s a fair amount to choose from. The main feature is The Ashes mode where you can play in The Ashes obviously. You can also play limited overs exhibition matches, 20Twenty, World Series, in fact pretty much everything is included. Also included is a mini-challenge mode where you can try and recreate moments in history in return for video rewards.
Cricket ’07 is touted as game for hardcore and casual cricket gamers, but to be honest I don’t feel this is true. I’ve had some enjoyment out of the batting side of things, but I reckon this really for hardcore cricket gamers only.
The Bad: Probably only appeals to hardcore cricket fans, Need a control pad to get the most out of it, Crap commentary