Cricket's answer to the football manager simulation games, such as LMA by Codemasters, is International Cricket Captain, developed by the wonderfully named Childish Things. The ICC series has been going since the late 90's and each game has been commercially successful, despite Childish Things not having to change their formula too much. This edition, the 2009 Ashes Edition was released in conjunction with England's victorious 2009 Ashes series.
As mentioned, Childish Things didn't really change their formula too much compared too previous games. For anyone who has played their previous games, you will notice just an updated roster and better graphics. Thankfully, this game has more updates than most of the others. Naturally, the roster has been updated, complete with their (correct at the time) statistics, so players who were around in 2009 are included. With many of these players still around today, it is a fairly fresh roster. In addition, the graphics have also been improved, with a more vibrant feel and a better 3D look than previous editions, when footage of play is being shown.
Amongst the new things Childish Things have implemented is the improved artificial intelligence. Batting and bowling is evidently much more harder to do, compared with previous editions, as the opponents do not often play to your strengths. Scoring 300 as an individual batsman in a test match or taking a hattrick in a ODI match are not as easy as previous games allowed it to be. The Twenty20 revolution, which was becoming very popular, found its way on to the game. That means you can play all 3 forms of cricket whenever you want. The 2009 edition of the Twenty20 World Cup is also available to play, with 9 (the test playing nations) out of the 12 teams that played in the tournament available to pick. Unfortunately, that means Zimbabwe are not a playable team in the tournament nor are they able to be selected in any other mode. In fact, only the 9 (at the time) test playing nations are available to pick for any international mode. There's also a little autoplay button when you captain a match, which will skip overs for you, without having to keep clicking the "next over" button. It's a very useful feature, especially to those who value their fingertips.
The new feature, which is actually a returning feature, is the Ashes campaign. Featured only in the 2001 and 2005 versions of ICC, this edition marks only the third time the Ashes have found their way on an ICC game. There are 6 series too choose from. The 2009 Ashes, which was won by England is available, being that it was the most recent series at the game's release. Botham's 1981 Ashes, the 1986-87 series, the 1998-99 series, Freddie's 2005 series and the 2006-07 series are the other series that you can play. You can pick either side to play as and can even select your own teams. Returning is the Exhibition Match mode, where you can choose a playable team and opponent and play them in 1 match. Before you wonder, these matches can be T20s, ODIs and tests. The "New Game" feature opens up the Ashes series and the T20 World Cup, as well as the season modes, which consist of Full Game, where you earn the right to captain an international team by successfully captaining English Domestic teams. The County & International mode is just Full Game, except you captain the international team straight away. International mode allows you to select an international team and get them to number 1 ranking. The Match Series allows you to pit 2 international teams in a 3 to 5 match series of tests and ODIs. Internet Game allows for online play. I've only used it once because the other player really did take his time, but lag is happily nowhere to be seen. Of course, you'll be really lucky to find an opponent in 2011.
There are a few flaws to this game. One of them is when you play well into the future and as a subcontinent team in any mode with International in the title, they don't have first names. They have an initial as well as surname, but when Childish Things come up with surnames and first names for all other countries, it makes you think that they were just being lazy. Second is the commentary loop. Jonathan Agnew's commentary on Test Match Special is a treat, but here, it's monotonous and repetitive. Another thing that annoys me is the footwork of some of the batsman, which would also make Virender Sehwag proud, in the sense that they don't move their front foot too much. In real life, using Sehwag-esque footwork is a complete no-no (and that's evident as Sehwag himself has flopped in difficult bowling conditions).
As for the price, anything more than a fiver is too much. Yes it really is that cheap. You can find it available on Amazon and eBay. As none of the season modes ever seem to end, it's pretty difficult to stop playing this game, unless you get sick of it, which I doubt will happen. Considering the next ICC game with the Ashes will be the 2013 version, why not buy it, when all the versions released until 2013 will not have the Ashes.
This is the most recent of many editions of International Cricket Captain.
~~Just in case you've never played the game, here is a brief outline~~
- You are the manager, captain and coach of a cricket team. You can chose between countless county sides and earn the right to run the national side, or you can go straight and run the national team. You basically run the coaching regimes, pick the team, and play through the match as manager (not actually controlling the players though), by either going ball by ball, or over by over and controlling the mentality, bowling lines and aggressiveness levels of the players.
There are also transfers at the end of each season, and this is a chance to suit out your squad with the best players around
To be totally honest, this game hasn't really changed much in the last 4 or 5 years. The graphics have altered slightly, but there are no drastic changes. However, I believe that this is to the games's credit. The game itself is masterful, and very addictive. Even after you get through about 5 or 6 seasons, and all the players start retiring, its still great to get the younger players through.
The game is great fun for any cricket fan, and if you are addicted to cricket, give it a go.
The latest installment of the International Cricket Captain series looks very similar to all previous incarnations of the game. For those that have never played them, it involves being the captain of a cricket team of your choice (international or domestic) although you do not perform any of the batting or bowling yourself. You simply pick the team and then adjust the tactics during the game. Think of it as a Football Manager but for cricket!
The database still looks more or less the same and the gameplay is also similar: just pick your team and tactics to adapt to the conditions, yet somehow it is as addictive as ever! The only significant change since the first releases of the game is the quality of the highlights, which are now much more realistic and smooth. The commentary (by Aggers) is still much the same but that is by no means a bad thing!
And for such a low price, this has got to worth buying for all cricket fans, even if it is just for the database update from the last version.