After a string of disasters, Cricket’s latest virtual simulator for the PS4 and Xbox One restores one’s faith in the game by delivering undisputed class.
India might have recaptured the Cricket World Cup back in 2011, but it can be argued fans of the game’s virtual avatar haven’t been served a true masterclass since Brian Lara Cricket ‘96 (courtesy of Codemasters, of course). Two decades is too long a wait for any self-respecting cricket gaming fan to endure. But unlike followers of Duke Nukem who were bitterly disappointed with Duke Nukem Forever, a sequel that took 16 years in the making, Bradman Cricket only promises to impress and satiate long-standing expectations of the uncompromising cricket gaming enthusiast who’s had to contend with substandard EA Cricket episodes and Codemasters’ diminished glory over the years.
Wait a minute — it’s a cricket game after all, how different can it really be? And your reservations are totally valid. This game doesn’t have licensed players or stadiums, its graphics are alright (nothing great), and the in-game commentary and crowd animations are jarringly repetitive and unrealistic. To strike a direct comparison, this game can’t hold a candle up to FIFA 15 in terms of its complete package. But Don Bradman Cricket 14 does enough on one crucial aspect of the game that makes you fall in love with it immediately.
What Don Bradman Cricket offers is a totally refined, remodelled set of controls and game mechanics that heightens your immersion into the game experience and ultimately its sense of entertainment. For this reason alone, the game is a must-play, must-have title. It is to cricket gaming what Grand Slam Tennis 2 was to tennis — absolutely no repetition whatsoever because of the learning curve involved in coming to grips with a slick, overhauled control scheme.
Whether it’s batting, bowling or fielding, the PS4 (or Xbox One) controller’s various buttons are generously exploited to offer minute control over everything. Right from selecting the pitch of the ball to the nature of the delivery, even where your feet lands in the crease, several of these key decisions will take some time to master; but once you know what you’re doing, subsequent deliveries are bowled with a combination of swishes and flicks of your respective controller’s analog stick that the whole action is completed without unnecessary inhibitions. There is no zone (on the pitch) to precisely aim towards, for a bowler, which is a pleasant. The same is true for batting — front foot cover drive or back foot cut? — Or fielding, where unique camera angles and control schemes help you react to unique situations on the fly.
Going through the motions feels a lot more fluid, more wholesome and organic in Bradman Cricket than any game I can remember.
The controls are so exhaustive that they require you to go practice in the nets, but not irritating in the way that combination moves can be in some games. The developers of Bradman Cricket understand this fine balance between refreshingly innovative and repetitively boring when it comes to the game’s fine control scheme, and they deserve great credit for achieving this milestone. Within a day, the controls become part of muscle memory and tend to take a backseat, letting you truly enjoy the game more than ever — and that’s another testimony to the developers. For this reason alone, experiencing how Bradman Cricket reimagines cricketing controls in a game, your decision to purchase a PS4 or Xbox One is fully justified.
Who cares if the game’s team rosters are full of gibberish? The game lets you tap into its community and download custom rosters. The latest, real-life cricket game features like DRS are also present as is Don Bradman Academy, a feature in the game, lets you create your own dream team (and share with others).
The game also has FIFA-esque career mode where you take over the fate of a 16-year-old cricketer and guide him through the first class circuit by playing (or simulating) matches and tournaments, levelling up the professional ladder, and finally representing the national team. But all of this is still the side-show to the excellent control scheme
Don Bradman Cricket is undoubtedly the most refreshingly original cricket game we’ve played in over a decade, and it’s all thanks to its stellar control scheme.
Don’t expect this to be what EA’s FIFA is to football games, EA’s NBA is to basketball or Madden is to NFL titles, and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, cricket gaming enthusiasts starving to play a worthwhile title for years can look forward to countless hours of virtual bat and ball fun with this title.
Reviewed on a PS4. Game copy courtesy of http://www.sameogames.com
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Jayesh "Big Daddy" Shinde
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