Ashes Cricket 2009 Review
- Posted August 12th, 2009 at 20:57 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Not the complete package, but still a very competent, challenging and enjoyable game of cricket.
- Batting. It's extremely satisfying when you hit a boundary
- The wide range of bowling techniques on offer
- The accessibility of the control scheme
- The opposition batsmen on normal on hard difficulty modes. They're just too good
- The uninspiring, unexciting QTE-based fielding mechanic
It was the Australian former cricketer, Richie Benaud, who once famously said that “Cricket is a batsman's game,” a quote that perfectly sums up our experience of Codemaster’s latest foray into the popular, quintessential English summer sport. Cricket is a sport that is known for its slow-pace, a game in which a clever mix of attacking and defensive play generally wins the day. That doesn't make for the most exciting of sport's videogames, so predictably it’s when you’re behind the crease, an area where the game is usually won or lost, that provides the most excitement and entertainment in Ashes Cricket 2009. As long as you're not expecting a fast-paced and flowing arcade cricketing experience, then fans of the sport should be happy that Codemasters and Transmission Games' latest cricket game does manage to capture the skillful and technical aspects of the sport by offering a measured and challenging game on the pitch.
Ashes Cricket 2009 is the official game of the inaugural summer test series between England and Australia. It features the official teams of these two cricketing heavy-weights, yet it loses some of its authenticity when you choose to play as one of the 10 other cricketing nations, whose licenses are still owned by Electronic Arts. Fans of cricket will recognize many of the stadiums from around the world, including Lords in England, The Gabba in Australia, and Pakistan’s National Stadium and authenticity is re-captured somewhat by the voices of cricketing legends Ian Botham and Shane Warne, who do a great job at commentating during matches, as well as providing some useful tips in the comprehensive tutorial mode.
Away from the main Ashes game mode, which sees England play Australia over five tests, you can partake in One Day Internationals, Test Matches and 20-over matches, as well as indulge yourself in the superb tutorial mode and range of challenges it offers. Alternatively, you can customize matches to suit your needs, or jump into the online arena to take on other cricket-loving players from around the world. The array of game modes is far from spectacular, in fact it’s pretty much the same bunch of modes from Codemaster’s last cricket game, Brian Lara Cricket 2007; though Ashes mode now replaces ICC World Cup mode. However, there’s still just about enough content to ensure longevity long after you've won your first test match, and we’re pretty sure that English and Australian gamers will never tire with trying to get one over on their arch rivals.
Aside from the embarrassingly ugly, cardboard cut-out crowds that line the stadiums, distracting you from the overall polished look of the game, presentation is, on the whole, immaculate. Character models are impressively rendered and animate well on the pitch, whereas the easy-to-navigate interface and well-stocked stat-reports are presented with clarity thanks to the easy-on-the-eye color scheme and large font-size. Replays are also impressive, as are the Hawk-Eye visualizations that have been stripped from the Brian Lara series, giving the matches an authentic TV-produced feel.
Ashes Cricket 2009 should ultimately be judged on the three areas of cricket: bowling, batting and fielding, and it does a decent job in two of the three areas. The simple batting control scheme is intuitive and relies on your skills and timing rather than simply allowing you to smash the ball around the pitch - arcade style. Aiming is accomplished by using the analogue stick to point in the direction you want the ball to go and you're guided by the on-screen radar, which highlights the direction the ball is heading and shows you the opposition's fielding positions. It's all about adjusting your timing to take into account the position of the delivery and the speed of it, and then trying to judge the shot to perfection by choosing the direction and pace that you want to hit the ball. Batting is a lot of fun if you’re willing to play cricket like it should be played and not go for sixes on every shot - you'll end up like we did, being all-out for just 24 runs. If you do score over 50 runs with one batsman, or manage to hit the ball for six into the crowd, it will have taken skill and pin-point precision to do ... (continued on next page) ----
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