Despite the average age of the 51allout team being remarkably close to Steve Smith’s first class bowling average (a whopping 55.44, Devereux fans), there are a few of us who are ‘down with the kids’ and have one of those sparkly new Xbox 360 things, and in a console era in which football & American sports games have been nailed by their producers we had a look at the most recent cricket game to hit the shelves, the imaginatively named..
Developed by Codemasters, International Cricket 2010 is a direct descendant of the popular Brian Lara Cricket console series and proudly boasts that the game will allow you to “Experience world class cricket, from the heart of the battle.” Unfortunately, much like a typical Mitchell Johnson delivery, this statement is pretty wide of the mark.
The first thing that greets you upon loading the game is the repetitive drone of an instrumental version of Kasabian’s ‘Fast Fuse’, which in itself isn’t a truly awful song, but when it’s rammed down your throat during every menu you navigate (and is literally the only song to feature in the game) it doesn’t take long for you to loathe it with every fibre of your being. So far so good.
The game is fully licenced by the ECB and Cricket Australia and, to the creators’ credit, the likenesses for the majority of licenced players are fairly decent, despite some questionable picks in the squads (Saj Mahmood & Dimi Mascarenhas stand out even more now than they did at the time). For those who like attention to detail, playing anyone other than England or the Aussies can leave you a tad cold. Facing 90mph deliveries from Dave Stern or plotting how you are going to bowl to the Little Master Sumit Tenhukkar just isn’t quite the same. Also Habim Alba has a turban and no beard, not sure he’ll be too pleased with that.
The controls are easy to get to grips with. Using the left stick to aim you do actually have full 360 degree control over where you hit shots, so you don’t just hit the same exact strokes over and over again as was the case in some earlier games. Likewise, when bowling you’re able to choose precisely where you want to bowl the ball using the left stick, and then the type of ball (inswinger, slower ball etc.) with just the push of a button. If only it were that easy in real life, eh Mitch?
In terms of actual gameplay, single player just isn’t much fun. Even on ‘hard’ beating the computer is too easy in any form of the game. Yes, your correspondent has been sad enough to play whole test matches, but only a handful as they’re annoyingly unrealistic. Unless you deliberately rein yourself in, it’s possible to score at 10+ an over without putting yourself in any danger, and when the user is bowling the CPU’s shot selection seems to be entirely arbitrary. 50 over matches, much like their real life counterparts, just feel like a chore. T20 is unsurprisingly the most playable form of the game, but even that is just too easy. It’s possible to win the World T20 with England for Christ’s sake! Nonsense. Oh, and while the graphics themselves are reasonable, the actual game engine is pretty shit.
However, despite all the flaws, multiplayer can be excellent. Forget playing online (not that there’s anyone actually playing this game online anymore) as there are too many plums who will just quit as soon as you hit a boundary or take a wicket. The beauty of this game comes in having a five or ten over bash against your mates. Many university hours were lost to furious battles where batsmen’s stunning ability to hit yorkers behind square on the offside for six and the clunky and glitched CPU fielding could either drive you to despair or jubilation depending on which side you were on. Not to mention the comedy run outs, some of which are straight from the Ricky Ponting user manual.
Overall, if you can pick it up on the cheap and have offline friends to play with, IC 2010 will probably provide you with enough cheap thrills to make it worth the money. Much like Nichael when he’s stolen the keys to the 51allout gin closet, the game is ok in small doses but before long will start to annoy you, and you definitely don’t want to be left on your own with it. Which reminds me, where are those keys?