Welcome to the Oval…
The Ashes – the oldest and arguably greatest trophy in world cricket. the prize given to the winner of the biennial test series between arch-rivals England and Australia. The prize that only a month or so ago was regained by England on their home soil, much to the disappointment of Australian captain Ricky Ponting. The prize that you too, can claim in Ashes Cricket 2009.
Ashes Cricket 2009 is the latest cricket game from Codemasters. Their last effort, Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 (replace Ricky Ponting with Brian Lara if you live outside Australia and New Zealand) was a great effort, bringing virtual cricket closer to anything that had been made previously.
Regaining the Ashes
If you are Australian, then you’ll want to erase the memory of defeat by winning back the Ashes trophy. If you’re an English fan, then you’ll want to relive the virtual glory over and over again. Although the game is called Ashes Cricket 2009, there are still other options if you happen to be from one of the countries that don’t compete in the Ashes. The largest cricketing nation, India, can still compete in Test matches if you so desire (How about the rest of the world that hardly knows what cricket is? -Ed). But apart from the drawn out Test Matches, gamers have the option of playing in One Day Internationals and even the high octane Twenty20 matches.
Being titled Ashes Cricket 2009, the developer/publisher has acquired the rights to use the names and likenesses (I use the term loosely) of the two teams that take part in the Ashes contest. Aussies can help Mike Hussey out of his form slump, while the Poms can have Kevin Pietersen play for the entire series if they so wish. This is a great improvement on the Ricky Ponting (Brian Lara) game of 2007, which had you playing as Adam Gilchurch instead of Adam Gilchrist. It may only be a minor addition, but certainly helps with the realism and immersion of the game.
Unfortunately, other teams still have fictitious names. As far as the Aussies or English are concerned, this would probably not be too much of an issue, but for the vast followers of the Indian cricket team, this may cause some angst. This can be rectified in the player editor section, however, so if you’d rather play as Sachin Tendulkar, then you still have the chance to do so after some manual tweaking.
Not so life-like...
Now, I did mention before that the player likenesses have been included. But as was the case with the previous iterations, these leave a lot to be desired. Yes, Ricky Ponting does look like Ricky Ponting. But this should be expected considering that they already had his face right in the last release. But of the other major Ashes players only Brett Lee, Paul Collingwood and Monty Panesar looked close to their real-life counterparts. Freddie Flintoff does have a bald head, but that’s where the similarities end. Other players would be hard to pick out of a police line-up, though, as they are just vaguely similar to their namesakes. The players features can be edited (like the names) so you can try and give them more of a likeness, or even play as yourself if you so desire.
The crowd too (as was the case with the 2007 version) is a bit on the disappointing side in the visual department. There seem to be about ten or twelve different crowd members that are scattered throughout the stands. Fortunately, like the player likenesses, it isn’t a game-breaker, but just something that the developers should take note of in the future.
The controls are simple to use for batting, bowling and fielding. The stadiums are well presented. Commentary from Jonathan Agnew is great.
Player likenesses need some work, as does the crowd.