Tim Paine discusses James Pattinson’s breach out of a Sheffield Shield match.
On the eve of another highly anticipated Ashes series this summer, Big Ant Studios have unleashed Ashes Cricket, and it’s comfortably the best cricket game in over a decade.
I hark back over a decade to the cricket games I grew up with, the games that may not have actually aged that well, but held the nostalgic feel of a great game.
» Golden Ashes: Australia’s best partnerships
» Paine, Marsh, Bancroft in Ashes squad
» Ashes squad: every player analysed
» Womens Ashes Test proves a success
» COMMENT: Paine’s selection is a farce
» COMMENT: Australia’s pace to rattle England
Having spent countless hours on Ricky Ponting Cricket 2005 and Cricket 07, I can honestly say I’ll be spending those same countless hours on Ashes Cricket.
It’s the same kind of game that makes you want to keep playing. That’s not an easy task for a cricket game, given many who aren’t die-hard fans consider the sport too long and meandering.
Ashes Cricket comes in after some very lean years of cricketing content for gamers that saw the trials of previous Ashes based games and the Don Bradman series, also by Big Ant.
While the Bradman cricket series was far from a disaster, you can’t help but feel that it fell short of expectations. However, the studio has seriously taken what worked, found what was missing, and thrown it into this one.
With fully licensed content around the upcoming English visit, you can play with all the current players and fully decked out stadiums from around the country. The women’s sides from both nations are included, as are the smaller suburban grounds featured in the women’s Ashes currently running.
Like many, if not all, sports games on the market these days, the meat of your time can be spent ploughing through career mode.
A facet of gaming that has become a staple of sports titles in recent years, Ashes Cricket has found a genuine and realistic way to incorporate a career-style game mode into the release.
Creating your own player, you work your way through the ranks, starting out in suburban grade cricket all the way through to the international stage of the Test arena.
It’s not just a matter of going through the motions either, you have to be performing to get picked for the next level up, whether that be state or international cricket, and you have a mountain of player stats and attributes to work with.
You can upgrade your player in every specific trait based on the points you earn from the form you’re in and the way you play.
It’s realistic and lifelike without being complicated, and that’s the best part of any game.
Aside from your budding career, there are international, domestic and custom tournaments you can jump right into – full Ashes tours for both women’s and men’s series right are at your fingertips.
The game modes are plenty to keep you busy.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s a thing of beauty compared to previous games.
The controls are fluid, smooth, realistic and, most importantly, they do what you want them to do!
It’s not just a case of formulaic dynamics either, where playing a stroke in a general direction will send it in the same default spot.
The placement and direction of your shot is dependant on the exact positioning of the analog stick, the timing of the shot, the footwork, the type of stroke played and other factors.
I’m making the same point over and over, but it’s worth repeating: it’s realistic and it works.
Even little touches make an impact, like raindrops appearing on the screen and rolling down the camera for an over before a break is called for weather, or pressing the appeal button too many times affecting whether or not an umpire will give a decision in your favour for the rest of the innings.
These are the small things that make it life-like, even down to the grass pattern of the oval and the prominence of cracks on the pitch.
You can even review decisions with DRS!
Customisation is as in-depth as any cricket game before, with the opportunity to create and mould your own players, teams, competitions and even stadiums and team logos.
Online play will be an interesting prospect when the cricket tragics hit the multiplayer part of the game.
Having only played before release so far, I haven’t been able to hit the online gameplay yet with anyone else on there, but the signs are there for a strong platform in an area that cricket games have never really been able to latch onto with great success.
Ashes Cricket is hands down the best cricketing game on the market right now. The work and quality put into the motion capture is obvious in the gameplay and having the fully licensed teams might not be massive to some, but it definitely adds to the genuine feel of the game.
It’s created a launchpad for Big Ant to build upon, improve future titles and create a whole generation of genuinely great cricket games.