Sport! Along with the behemoth that is FIFA and a slew of unfathomable American sports titles, EA occasionally finds time to squeeze the more genteel pursuit of cricket into its burgeoning roster. While lacking the razzamatazz of its stable-mates, Cricket does a reasonable job of recreating the old game and this year is no different. Literally.
In traditional fashion, it's a case of a quick wash and brush-up, with the developer resolutely refusing to fix what isn't broken, while updating it in terms of players and teams. The EA dollar speaks loud, and as such, the England team is fully licensed, featuring real player names as well as physical likenesses, with the cream of our cricketers faithfully recreated as dead-eyed zombies. And if that's not enough, you can always stick yourself in the game using the ubiquitous Create-A-Player technology. Throw in 35 different stadiums and a laconic Richie Benaud commentary, and it's just like watching it on TV (without your specs on).
Obviously that's not enough to warrant spending 30 quid, as you can watch cricket on TV for free, generally while counting the days until the football season starts. And if you were to play a test series or two, that day would soon come round. It's all very authentic having such an option, but is anyone really going to sit down and play out a five-day test? We would suggest not. Even the hints and tips section reminds you - twice - that 'patience is a virtue in test matches'.
Assuming you don't have such monk-like virtues, limited overs games are available, including the all-new Twenty20 tournament. Even so, you're always tempted to lash wildly at every ball, which will rapidly see you trudging back to the pavilion to polish off the cucumber sandwiches. Erring towards the simulation side of things, you really have to do things properly, content to play defensive shots while looking for the occasional opening. If anything, the batting is too hard, with pinpoint timing required to get any purchase on the ball.
As for bowling, it's somewhat more accessible, with an array of shots offered on-screen and a moveable cursor dictating where the ball will pitch, although perversely this is often obscured by the umpire's hat. And the most boring part of cricket, fielding, is largely automated, with an option to hurl the ball straight at your choice of stumps.
While it plays a solid game of cricket, the overly technical approach is off-putting and a lot of practice in the nets is required to become competent. Probably more suited to multiplayer, unfortunately this will involve human contact as there's no online mode. Or you could just get yourself out in the sun...
Solid if unspectacular
- Reasonable likenesses
- Authentic approach
- Batting is too hard
- No online mode