by William Thompson
previewed on PC
The mystery game
Ahhh... Cricket. Is there a better sport? Well maybe there is, but it is a sport that millions of people play and even more people enjoy watching from the comfort of their armchairs. OK... for most North Americans and mainland Europeans, the game of cricket is a complete mystery, but for the vast number of followers (mostly from nations once ruled by the British Empire) it is a game of power and grace.
For many years now, gamers have been able to play and watch the game of cricket on their computer screens and cricket games have greatly improved in recent times. One such cricket game was Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2005. Now, Codemasters are developing an updated version, originally titled Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007.
Win the Cricket World Cup
The upcoming version will be officially endorsed by cricket's governing body, the ICC and will feature the name and likeness of all the world's star cricketers. Players including England's Andrew Flintoff, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, the West Indies' Brian Lara and of course, Australia's cricket captain Ricky Ponting will also be able to vie for the coveted World Cup Trophy, as RPIC2007 will officially feature the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
For cricket fans, there will be a range of tournaments and game modes available. Apart from the World Cup itself, other tournaments include the ICC Champions Trophy. There will also be One-Day Internationals, the exciting Twenty-20 matches and even Test Matches so that the Aussies will get the chance to regain the Ashes, whilst the Barmy Army will be doing their utmost to retain them. Further adding to the game modes is the chance to play online against other online gamers.
Players get facelifts
The graphics, including the players have, excuse the pun, been given a facelift to make them more lifelike. And it seems that Codemasters have done a good job in this regard, as the player mannerisms have been well captured. In addition to the players, the arenas have also been improved. All the major stadiums will be included, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, The Oval and Lords. The quality of the stadiums has been improved on RPIC2005 with the addition of animated crowds. Subtle changes in weather conditions are also captured with the new lighting effects which are being developed.
Cricket game-play has also been given some more realistic touch-ups. When batting, the variation of shots has been extended. Sweeps, fine edges and the ability to dance down the wicket for that huge straight drive back over the bowlers head, give the batsman greater options.
But, batsmen beware. Bowlers have been given an increased arsenal of deliveries. Spinners such as Shane Warne and Murali will be able to use their huge variation of deliveries to bamboozle batsmen, whilst the quickies such as Steve Harmison and Brett Lee will be able to use reverse-swing as the ball gets older. It is even possible for the atmospheric conditions to affect the deliveries, with overcast weather being more conducive to swing.
Fielding has also been given a couple of improvements. Codemasters are developing a new slips-catching system which will require quicker reflexes. Also, players will be able to be run-out at both ends of the wicket and batsmen can even be stumped by wicket-keepers when they play and miss after walking out of their crease.
Will it score?
With limited competition for action cricket games (the only other recent game is EA Cricket) Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 will no doubt be able to secure enough sales to keep the franchise going. Whether the game lives up to gamers wishes may be another story altogether. This has been a difficult task for developers of cricket games in the past, as cricket contains a number of subtleties that game developers have failed to embrace. Being an avid cricket fan and gamer I look forward to seeing more of this game's development as it nears completion to see how these improvements affect the gameplay. But for now I'll just have to be content with watching the upcoming Ashes series in Australia on TV. Ricky Ponting International Cricket will be available on PC, Xbox360, and PS2 in March 2007, just in time to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup.