Cricket 07 PS2 Review
Cricket became “popular” in the summer of 2005, with no small part being played by England’s success in the Ashes series against Australia, where it seemed that for a brief moment – every single person in England; man, woman and child, suddenly became the most die hard fan of the sport. ‘Freddie’ Flintoff started turning up completely hammered at most sporting events and cricket was well and truly part of the public’s consciousness once again.
Fast forward a year later. England are playing their patented losing-based brand of cricket and the public support creeps back down to its usual low profile, when compared to the popularity of the all consuming game of football. EA, however, could hit a six by delivering a faithful rendition of the sport for die-hard fans, and maybe, make a game accessible to the casual gamer, drawn back to the game as England embark what appears to be another abortive Ashes tournament.
Personally, I never really cared for the sport. My father, however, is quite the fan – playing for the local village side most of his life. At some point in my early teens, I felt like I almost had to give it a go, and played for a season. Without giving you any more from my life story, the point is – I still don’t fully understand the terminology and the rules. EA Canada seems to have put up a huge wall of inaccessibility from the very start. What the hell is a googly? Where are the slips? What is so silly about ‘Silly mid-off’? Obviously, if I was a cricket fan (or simply not stupid) I would know these phrases and what they correspond to in the game, but without this knowledge, Cricket 07 gets off to a bad start by being a game very much “for fans of the sport”, who most of the time, will put up with a hell of a lot more fluff than the average gamer.
The obligatory EA ‘major new innovation’ added into this year’s version is ‘analogue batting’ or ‘the century stick’, as per EA’s horrible tactic of branding everything imaginable. By pushing the stick in various directions; you can slice, strike and smash the ball around the pitch with a new-found level of accuracy. Much more intuitive than any method used in previous games and once you have got used to it you will be scoring boundaries with ease. The L and R triggers allow you to loft the ball into the air and even walk out of the crease to really attack the ball, offering you a great number of different ways to play the ball. It may sound gimmicky, but it works. What is to stop seasoned players smashing the ball all over the place, I hear you ask? A batsman’s ‘confidence’ meter must be filled by playing a few safer shots before you can really bring out the big hits – how long this takes to fill is directly affected by the batsman’s statistics and balances nicely as by far the best feature of Cricket 07. Unfortunately, the rest of the game lacks this level of innovation.
Bowling is a chore. Select the type of ball you want to play, tap X before you go over the ‘crease’ line and make sure you aim it at the wickets. Repeat. That is all there is to it. Sure, you can add a bit of spin and as your bowler confidence rises you can bowl some more fancy balls, but ultimately it is nothing more than two button presses. Fielding is dealt with automatically, too, so after the ball has left your hand, it is completely out of your control. You either watch your team attempt to catch out the opposition, try and run them out or completely screw the pooch and concede more and more points through terrible fielding – which you are powerless to stop. It’s dull, barely interactive and means that for HALF of any match you play, you are going to find yourself bored.
The presentation is up to EA’s usual high yet soulless standards; you can’t move for logos, brands and licenses. Some of the menus are slightly over thought (which idiot thought it was a good idea to have different save screens for each kind of save?) and the tradition in terrible music that is ‘EA Trax’ returns once again with some uninspired licensed gumpf for you to ignore. Or if like me you have a music taste that could be described as ‘pretentious trash’, simply turn off at the first chance you get which leaves you with the surprisingly good commentary. The graphics are nice enough, despite the occasional poor animation, and the players, who are all officially licensed, all have their little differences – Shane Warne has his sunblock whilst fielding, Monty Panesar wears his patka and Andrew Flintoff reeks of booze… well, probably.
The inclusion of a separate ‘Ashes’ mode, that allows you to play the entire tour of 2006 and features a clever ‘challenge mode’, where you have to recreate England’s 2005 victory – scoring a century as Pietersen and winning the series 2-1, which unlocks a few videos from past matches. A little cheap, for the amount of effort needed. It’s just not cricket.
Perhaps it was to be expected, but if you aren’t a Cricket fan, you won’t get anything out of Cricket 07, which is what separates it from the sport game greats; Pro Evolution Soccer and Tony Hawk Skateboarding spring to mind – games that are essential to fans, but great fun for those even with the most rudimentary understandings of the sports. This is an average game that offers a reasonably authentic game of Cricket for those who would already be interested in buying this game, regardless of what any review says.
Like watching England playing Test Cricket. It has a flash of greatness but it is frustrating, dull and ultimately, it fails.