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Cricket 07 PS2 Review

05/06/2009 Specialist Sports Gamer Review
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Cricket 07 PS2

Cricket 07

Format:
PS2

Genre:
Sporting

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Although EAís Cricket 07 didnít get a current generation console release, a few short minutes back in its groove reminded me what an excellent experience it provided. The graphics and animation are a bit rocky by modern standards but the amount of match options, its accessibility and superb use of the Ashes licensing still made this an entertaining cricketing experience.

Diving straight into this game I was immediately taken back to Channel 4ís groundbreaking Test coverage. Not just because they wrestled it from the decaying hands of BBC sport but because of the funky, loud and downright cool way they presented the Ashes. Mark Nicholasí tones took me through the games tutorial and although itís a phoned-in performance, my Hampshire roots canít help but swell with a little pride with our former captain.

It felt great when my attacks and field placements came together - ousting Ricky Ponting never got old - but when itís proceeded by another 30 overís of boredom the authenticity started to become counter-productive.

He and Richie Benaud provide the commentary to the on-field action and it feels television-like enough to give me that anticipation I always had before going into bat myself. But just like Brian Laraís Cricket the difficulty setting feels a little off. It was quite possible to thrash the ball over the fence five times out of six whenever I felt like it no matter what setting it was on. This led to some thrilling, if unbelievable, 20/20 matches and some stupidly short 5-day games.

On the flip-side, bowling and fielding were no fun at all unless I had the luxury of a whole day to play. The limited over matches felt too brutal to be fun and bowling during a 4-day match or in a Test series was a gruelling and pointless process. It felt great when my attacks and field placements came together - ousting Ricky Ponting never got old - but when itís proceeded by another 30 overís of boredom the authenticity started to become counter-productive.

This is 07ís highest compliment and biggest detraction for me. The game suffers from a variety of bugs but overall I got the feeling it captured the essence of cricket better than any game before or since. Unfortunately, playing anything more than a 20/20 match meant putting the bowling onto simulation mode and trying to bat sensibly as I would in real life. Taking up to two hours to craft a half-century is rewarding when itís for my local team, but when itís in the game? Thatís just too much like hard work.

My hope is that Ashes 2009 does something similar to EAís scenarios. Dedicating 50 hours to bowling, even if I do get Ricky Ponting out, is going to be a hard sell no matter how much patriotic pride I have.

I had the option of creaming the ball unrealistically over the park like I previously stated. But doing this in a Test arena seemed like an insulting crime against the sport. The more I played the game the more I wanted to treat it like a proper simulation, even if it gave me all the tools to break it. Itís definitely a case of getting out what you put in. I remember at the time of its original release playing the Ashes from beginning to end with no simulations. It felt worth it at the time but these days I need something more gripping and instant.

Fortunately the gameís vast multitude of options covers this need and the 2005 Ashes scenario campaign is Cricket 07ís best feature. Playing as either England or Australia the game replicates vital moments from that famous series and sets various targets you have to beat. Like putting on an opening wicket partnership of 100 or getting Kevin Pieterson to 50 without running anyone out are good bite-sized chunks of gameplay.

Presented with real snippets of the live coverage I felt this was just the type of game to warm me up for this yearís Ashes and new cricket game. This isnít a particularly new feature. Games in the past have taken historical matches and done the same, even going back to the gameís ancient roots. But modernising it with real footage gave me a feeling that I was participating in that magical, winning series.

My hope is that Ashes 2009 does something similar to EAís scenarios. Dedicating 50 hours to bowling, even if I do get Ricky Ponting out, is going to be a hard sell no matter how much patriotic pride I have.

Written by David Kenson

You can support David by buying Cricket 07



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David Kenson writes the Sports Gamer column.

"I bring twenty or so years of enthusiasm for, and experience of, sports to bear on my reviews of all sorts of sporting games. I've usually got what John Virgo would call the 'commentators eye' because I've played in the real world."

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