by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Here comes the boom
We previously got the chance to sample an almost-complete version of Big Bash Boom at the Big Ant Studios, but with the game incomplete and just having a short time with the game, it was hard to get a full take. With the Big Bash season (BBL08) well under way, it gives us the perfect opportunity to revisit the game in more detail. For those who aren't in the know, the Big Bash is the local Australian Twenty20 competition, the shortest version of the game of cricket. It is generally a game with high scoring, as batters try and score as much as they can in the limited time available.
Easy to play
Despite the lack of any real tutorial or instructions, the controls are extremely easy, allowing even cricket novices to play with a certain degree of skill after just a few deliveries. Indeed, my eight-year-old daughter was able to hit boundaries after in about an over (and she was carting me for consecutive sixes after a couple more over). Getting the timing right is indeed the most difficult part of the controls, but once mastered, scoring can be a breeze, particularly on the lowest difficulty setting. The same goes with bowling, as it is simply a matter of selecting which delivery to bowl, (fast, swing, slower ball etc) and then aiming where you want to bowl. Again, there is some timing involved, as a bowling meter appears on the left side of the screen and hitting the centre point within the meter produces the optimal delivery.
Fielding and catching is pretty simple as well. When a ball is skied towards one of your well-placed fielders, a graphic of two circles appear, one with an L on it. Using the Left thumb-stick, players need to manoeuvre this L circle into the other circle within the time limit in order to complete the catch. It makes catching require a little bit of skill, especially on the harder difficulties, but is a fun little feature, that takes the randomness out of catching. I mentioned the well-placed fielders before, but gamers only get to choose from a selection of field settings. There are enough to choose from, but it seems that the game switches back to the default field each ball, which does reduce the flow of the game somewhat.
Bright and colourful
For the most part, the visuals are great. Like the Big Bash itself, Big Bash Boom is loaded with colour. The teams all have their bright uniforms and the crowds are full of the home team's colours. But unlike the real thing, when sixes are struck, a trail of colour representing the teams follows the ball. When a player from the Melbourne Stars hits a maximum, a trail of green stars appears and if the Hobart Hurricanes score a maximum, a purple gust swirls around the ball on its way out of the ground. There's nothing like watching the ball disappear over the roof of Marvel Stadium - well unless you were the bowler.
The players, from the big stars down to the rookies, all look like their real-life counterparts (well, bobble-headed versions of them anyway). Each of the players has had the full facial capture procedure and it shows. Even the women of the WBBL appear like their namesakes. This is an area that often gets overlooked in sports titles, and it is great to see that the same amount of effort has gone into the women's game. The stadiums all look great too, and have been created from the ground up, despite Big Ant having worked on past cricket titles. The crowds wave banners and giant cut-outs of their teams' players, giving the game a wonderful atmosphere.
One issue I had with the visuals was with the run outs and stumpings. On more than one occasion I was given Run Out even though the visuals clearly showed my player had made his ground. One was particularly frustrating as I was nearing victory with just a couple of wickets in hand. It is also comical at times to see a fielder attempt to hit the stumps and watch the ball run away to the boundary. No overthrows are recorded.
As a batsman, as you score more boundaries, your special power meter builds up. The same goes when bowling dot balls and keeping the runs down. Upon gaining a full meter, a bonus power-up can be activated. These power-ups last for a short period of time and are of varying usefulness. The batting power-ups seem to offer greater advantages. One of the power-ups gains the batsman double points on the next shot, which can be quite handy in boosting the total, whilst another bonus makes it super-difficult for fielders to catch the ball. The bowling power-ups are a little less useful; one of them sets the pitch on fire disabling the batsmen from running, but if you're going for boundaries, it will be somewhat obsolete. Another semi-useful bowling power-up is the speed boost, which works well if you have a fast bowler sending down thunderbolts, but not as well when you have a spinner. Another boost enables fielders to become superheroes, flying up into the air to catch skied shots.
The commentary from Pete Lazer is upbeat and, like the game itself, rather comical at times. He has something to say for just about each delivery. Although if you've played a whole season, he'll start repeating himself. The sound effects are standard for a cricket game, but there is some cool background music from local artists, which often builds up the tempo.
Realism 0, Fun 1
If you want a cricket game with realism, there are definitely better games. But if you're after a fun, or a quick and easy game to play with some friends during the lunch break at the cricket, then Big Bash Boom would be just the thing. It is the cricket version of NBA Jam, a game where it doesn't take itself too seriously. Indeed, upon scoring a six or taking a wicket, gamers can have their players perform one of dozens of crazy victory dances. With loads of colour, some fun power-ups and the simple nature of the controls, Big Bash Boom is a game even non-cricket lovers could get into. And for those who do love the Big Bash, this game is perfect to play during the innings break of an actual match.
Simple controls, fun atmosphere
Graphical glitches, limited game modes