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Reviews

Cricket 2005

Michael Holding was a fast bowler for the West Indies Test side through the late '70s and early '80s. Peter Willey was a well-known English batsman of the same era. Both decent enough cricketers, but neither memorable in their own right (er not strictly true - Michael 'Whispering Death' Holding was one of the finest bowlers to ever grace the game - cricket loving C&VG Ed)

Until they met on the field of battle that is, for that was the day the immortal line "The bowler's Holding the batsman's Willey" was born (courtesy of BBC commentator Brian Johnston), and a career's worth of after-dinner speeches was subsequently made by both.

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And what exactly does that have to do with EA's latest cricket game? Not a great deal really - we just thought it would be a humorous way to introduce a game based around what is considered in some quarters England's slowest sport. Five days for a Test match? We've seen new species of great ape evolve quicker.

Is perhaps a blessing, then, that Cricket 2005 offers ten-over games as standard (although if you do want to play a real-time, five-day Test, you can do that too). In fact, in terms of options, Cricket 2005 offers a wealth of variety, with both club (English and Australian) and international cricket represented across numerous tours, tournaments and test series, including the ever-popular Twenty20 Cup series - which, let's face it, is basically one-day cricket re-imagined for the videogame generation anyway.

Likewise, this being an EA title you've got presentation and attention to detail that's second to none. Players that actually look like who they're supposed to be, Richie Benaud commentating, endless amounts of TV-style replays (including slow-motion close-ups for those video umpire decisions and endless shots of batsmen onspicuously readjusting their boxes) and all the Sky Sports-style stat screens you could ever dream of. Yep, this is an EA Sports game alright.

Which leaves us with the rather thorny issue of how Cricket 2005 actually plays. Condensing the complex bat and ball sport to a workable, joypad-controlled game was never going to be easy, but in all fairness to the folk at EA, they've not done a bad job. Batting uses a combination of different buttons for assorted shots plus the analogue stick for direction, while bowling the perfect Yorker requires a skilful blend of button presses, analogue stick tweaks and a swiftly moving power bar that must be stopped in exactly the right place.

But (and you knew this bit was coming, right?), we can't help feel that in trying to make a serious simulation of the sport, EA has got its fine-tuning of the controls all wrong. Put simply, it shouldn't be this hard to hit a ball. In real life, maybe, but in a console game? No. Even after 20 minutes practising in the nets, playing on Easy, as England, against Canada, we still managed to lose five wickets in the first over! Isn't batting supposed to be the most fun bit? Instead we get a protracted exercise in self-humiliation. Maybe we're just rubbish at cricket games, but after several people in the office also gave up in disgust we suspected there might be a problem.

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Our advice? Don't rush out and buy Cricket 2005 just yet, especially not on the strength of the EA logo alone. Not even if you're desperate to play a cricket game over those long, sunny summer afternoons. Wait another month and see how Codemasters' Brian Lara International Cricket shapes up in comparison, because on these impressions, it might just turn out to be the superior option.

The verdict

Complete cricket package that suffers from a very demanding batting system. The cricketing hardcore should like it.

6
Format
Xbox
Developer
Unknown
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Genre
Sports

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