Having always been a fan of having a variety of games available to play I spotted this little gem for £4.99 brand new in my local Gamestation the other day and simply had to take a punt on it but was it still £4.99 wasted or is it really up there with the best of them?
Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 is the game which came out in time for the ICC world cup and so one of the biggest offerings in this game is the chance to play your way through this tournament. Well thought out and clear menus allows the gamer to know exactly what is going on and what you are doing which although a small thing is not something you find with all games nowadays.
Once into the game you find well defined graphics with one of the more interesting things that you notice being that the players are clearly focussed upon but the background (stadium, tree, etc) is left slightly out of focus making it less overpowering with the display style making it so you mainly focus where you need to thanks to the gentle nudge given by this presentation style.
The graphics themselves are very impressive whilst not quite upto the standards set by some of the recent football games out there but this is not something that people should be looking at negatively as this isn't a football game...it's cricket and should feel differently to football games.
Now...let's get onto the basics of what any game needs to be up there, great controls. The control system has stuck to previous offerings of Brian Lara cricket in staying as simple as they can whilst also offering up good control over the outcome of the games. Both batting and bowling with this game have been worked on hard to sharpen these up and it is noticeable when playing.
Controlling your shots as with the real game is paramount to achieving success with checking the fielders radar important as well as judging the bowling to perfection. Timing in this game is of huge importance so if you are not great with your reflexes then maybe not the best of games for you but as with anything it is something you can work at to improve to be able to be top dog.
Commentary is of an ok standard but does not set the world alight and this is something you feel has had less emphasis put on it than the other areas of the game.
Overall an excellent game that offers up plenty of re-playability and thanks to it recognising it is a cricket game it has not tried to copy football or American football games for the graphics or style of presentation which for me is something that gives this game extra credit.
Quite how this passed the programmers and publishers quality checks is quite beyond me. There is a very unfortunate glitch in this game which really hampers its ability to entertain. When the ball is thrown to the wicketkeeper, having been hit by the batsman, he will always knock over the stumps in order to run out the opposition batsman. This sounds normal, until you realise that this happens even if the opposition batsmen has completed his run before the wicketkeeper even catches the ball- the wicketkeeper will still knock down the stumps.
This absurd glitches slows the game down very considerably and unfortunately I found that it makes it unplayable over long periods. This put aside the game is not bad but it still does not really feel much of a step up from the original Brian Lara cricket. Even the graphics haven't improved all that much given that its on the 360.
Granted, the game does have all the necessary licenses and so forth and with two players could be considered playable, but a glitched cricket game is not really my cup of tea.
My first impressions of the latest installment of the Brian Lara Cricket series was very good. The overall layout looks much better. But that changed when I was playing on it for a few minutes. I'll start with the music. It was terrible really. Just one song played over and over and it was a rubbish one at that. But I did try my best to ignore that and carry on with playing the game. I was really quite annoyed that there wasn't the same create a player mode as in the 2005 version. I had hoped it would be the same, where you earn points playing for any team you like and you earned a different amount of points depending on amounts of runs scored etc. Unfortunately that wasnt there at all. You couldn't even play as your player in normal international matches. That was one of my favourite features with the last game so I was dissapointed with that.
The gameplay is near enough the same and there wasnt much improvement on the graphics. That is saying something because the last game was on PS2 so the graphics quite simply are not good enough for next-gen consoles. There quite a few new conversations and things with the commentary, so that is alot better in my opinion.
As the Brian Lara Cricket games have always been, it loads quickly so you don't have to wait for long. If it does take a bit longer though, during a match it has some statistics in the bottom corner like most fours last innings and things like that which are interesting to look at.
Another thing which has stayed consistant in the BLIC games is how easy batting is. It is still incredibly easy to score a 6 almost every ball which becomes boring after a while because it is not very challenging. With bowling it is no where near as easy to get wickets but if you do get bored you can use the new autoplay feature to skip as far ahead as you want.
A fantastic game, this is the closest thing i've ever seen to real cricket on a console, the bowling is hit and miss, you only have the option to place the ball in various areas, pitch it and spin, swing or bounce it as you feel appropriate, this is fine but as with real spin bowling the ball doesn't always go where you want it.
Fielding is ok, occasionally you can make good catches but retrieving the ball is simply a case of throwing at a point close to the maximum to return to the wicketkeeper as soon as possible.
Batting is where this game really comes into its own, there are a huge variety of batting options, leg sweeps, straight drives, cover drives, batting is really good fun.
Graphics are fine, if not samey, and the options are pretty limited in only venues and types of games, further options in developing players and trying improving skills would be appreciated.
The big problem with this game is that as with real cricket, if you were to play a five day match you would have to have incredibly patience and spare time, also as your playing a game, you want to try and hit the ball as often as possible so can reach 340 by the end of day one, which over 5 days could make for ridiculous scores.
I'm hoping that someday this game could come out on the Nintendo Wii and allow the user to really play the strokes properly. Its in no way perfect but is by far and away the best cricket game i've experienced.
Althought this is an improvement on previous versions of the series, this still falls well short of a decent cricket sim for next gen gamers.
Perhaps it is not trying to be. Perhaps it is an arcade game- in which case it works fairly well. Ask some mates round and do some KP style batting. Because hitting sixes becomes ridiculously easy after a couple of days play. This is one of the main problems - it just does not offer much of a challenge.
Sure all the major tournaments are there and the game looks great but it is not really an engrossing game for the cricket enthusiast. YEs you can vary your deliveries, you can swing and seam the ball, but after a few days play you get used to exactly what will happen with each delivery.
Perhaps cricket just offers too many variables (ball condition, wicket condition etc) to allow a realistic experience for a console game. But with a bit of care and attention to detail, codemaster could produce a much better effor than this.
This game offers a few new features on its predecessor, for example, there is far more hidden trophies to unlock, and the fielding control has been greatly improved, meaning that it is now possible to run players out. Sadly, this game is not an unmitagated success. After half an hour of game play, chances are you would have heard the extent of the commentary vocab. Indeed, so often do you hear the words 'their in disarray' or 'theres been a mix up' you find that these terms enter your everyday usage down the pub! Some of the commentary has even been lifted from the old game, so chances are, you would have heard most of the commentary lines before you even break open the cellophane. Very disappointing.
Another issue is the fact that the wicketkeeper seems to whip the bails off the stumps with every run, even if the batsmen has been in his crease long enough to change his box. It gets incredibly annoying, a bit like watching Ian Healy play again!
Another gripe is that the game is just too easy. I am certain that the test level difficulty setting is alot easier than it was on the previous game....I even managed to score 650 not out with Andrew Strauss! Also, whilst you can play test leagues and exhibition matches, there is no option to set up a test series! Shocking!
On the plus side, the game offers you the chance to run players out, and includes a comprehensive selection of one day competitions, including the world cup. If you enjoy cricket games, then you will enjoy this, albeit with a slight hint of disappointment that this game could be so much better.
I often start off my reviews trying to explain what led me to a specific purchasing decision, but the thing with "Brian Lara International Cricket 2007" is that there wasn't one. Or at least, not one that I consciously made. I mean, this is never a game that I would have chosen to buy if it had been left up to me; the only reason I tried it was because it was in a bundle of games we got with our second hand Xbox 360 when we it bought from a friend. As I was going through the process of trying out our new selection of games, this one stood out for me straight away as being great fun. My previous experience of sports sims was admittedly pretty limited; I remember having a Daley Thompson athletics game when I was quite young (one of those where you had to bash two keys as fast as you could to win the running races) and I have tried out some football games without huge amounts of success, but that is about it. I am also not much of a cricket connoisseur (I think Robin Williams' quip of it being baseball on valium is fairly accurate), but after growing up with my dad as a huge fan of the sport, I do have some understanding (possibly even appreciation?) of the game, even if it is not something I would ever go out of my way to watch. This game seems to have been intended for a more mainstream gaming audience rather than die-hard fans of cricket, however, so it suited me as a game that was fairly straightforward to pick up and play without needing to become immersed in a lot of complex rules or technicalities.
- Game Set-Up
"Brian Lara International Cricket 2007" (which I believe is known as "Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007" outside of the UK) was released to coincide with the last cricket World Cup, held in the West Indies. It is therefore unsurprising that a recreation of the tournament is a major feature of this game, although in addition to this there is a mode based around the ICC Champions Trophy 2006, and you can set up individual test matches and one day internationals. There is also a rather useful tutorial and practice mode that will take new players through the basic elements of the game: batting, bowling and fielding. Disappointingly for fans of the sport there are no tour modes or domestic competitions, and the matches are limited to those 16 teams that qualified for the 2007 World Cup. Being a licensed World Cup product, it has replicas of the players and stadia featured in the competition, as well as licensed international kits, so things appear as realistic as possible if you are playing within the ICC modes. However, what is perhaps annoying is the lack of real player names outside of the ICC modes, a reflection of the limited licence of the game. So, when you try to play a one day international for example, you feature a group of players with mysterious but almost familiar names (A. Flantiff, anyone?) and there is no text editor to alter this.
Setting up a new game is easy enough. You start by choosing the mode you want to play in (World Cup, one day international, etc), then selecting your team and choosing from a range of simple options such as picking a stadium, the weather conditions, the sort of ball you want to use and in some cases whether it will be a day or night match. Player selections can be made by swapping players in out of your default team from the rest of your squad, and you can also change options such as batting order; you are presented with basic batting, bowling and fielding capability information to help you make these judgements. There are also four difficulty levels to play matches in: village, county, test and slog. The learning curve is quite steep, with village rapidly becoming too easy for me as a novice player, but county providing considerably more of a challenge and test currently practically unwinnable for me (I haven't been brave enough to dare the "slog" mode yet). A nice addition to the game is the use of Hawkeye, which is used as in real life to support umpire decisions and to show aspects of the game such as the line of bowling delivered in an over.
Bowling is fairly straightforward to grasp the basics of. Your bowler will stand patiently still until you tell him to start his run up, and then you have the choice between four basic delivery types, which are mapped onto the four main buttons of the Xbox controller: a straight pitch, a ball that will bounce to the right, a ball that will bounce to the left, and a slower paced delivery (which will have different effects depending on whether you are using a fast or spin bowler). You decide where to aim the delivery by moving a crosshairs that appears once you have begun the run up (using the control stick), so once you have started you only have a few seconds to correctly position and execute the delivery. As the bowler approaches the wicket, a power meter pops up to the left of the screen, and you select the power by simply choosing how early or late you make your delivery (although it also reflects real life player stats, as compiled by Wisden). Make your delivery too late, however, and it will be classed as a no ball. As the ball moves through the air, you can further control its flight by using the shoulder buttons to add more swing to the left or right to attempt to confuse the batsman, although the amount you can do this is controlled by the skill level of your bowler. Your bowler also has a confidence meter. If he performs well (by giving away few runs and by taking wickets), his confidence will rise and a full confidence meter gives you access to special deliveries (such as Yorkers).
Batting is done through a combination of the control stick and buttons. Once the bowler begins his run up, you can shuffle your batsman left or right across the wicket with the control stick to get yourself in position to receive the delivery; you have some idea of what to expect as you can see the bowler's aiming crosshairs in front of you, but of course you have no idea of how much pace, swing and bounce the delivery will have and you need to balance good positioning against exposing your wicket. You are presented with a mini-map of the fielding positions of the opposing team in the bottom right corner of the screen, which you can use to decide which direction to hit the ball in to best avoid the fielders (balanced against where the ball will be delivered to and your position relative to the ball). Lofted, ground and defensive shots are mapped onto the main buttons of the controller, and like with bowling, a full confidence meter (from scoring runs) gives you access to specials (such as advancing down the wicket). Success is dependent on timing and placement; there is not a great deal of difference between a ball hit successfully for four, one missed completely and another that is chipped neatly into the waiting wicketkeeper's hands, so this presents you with a nice challenge.
Then we move on to fielding. This is an element of the game that doesn't work as well as the batting and bowling, largely because of the lack of control. There are a number of set fielding positions that you can cycle through to arrange your outfield in an attacking or defensive arrangement; you can vary this as often or as little as you please, even down to changing your fielding array between individual deliveries, but the limited choices don't give you much control beyond "I want a lot of fielders clustered around the crease" and "I want my fielders spread out around the field". Once a shot has been played by a batsman, the movement of fielders towards it is controlled by the game. Just before your fielder is about to take a catch or make a throw, a sliding meter appears above his head, with the slider moving rapidly across it. You need to press the appropriate button when the slider reaches the mid-point of the bar for the fielder to successfully make the catch or for the throw to be made accurately. The meter moves very quickly and it is often hard to react in time, especially when you also have to get the button press correct as well (there are separate ones for catch, throw to bowler's end and throw to keeper's end). If you fail in this endeavour, then you drop your catch or the throw back to the crease becomes taken over by the game and the ball could end up at either end - and often thrown so badly that the catcher misses it and the batsmen have chance to sneak in another run or two whilst your fielders go flapping after the ball again. When the ball does get returned correctly, the bowler or keeper goes through an automatic stumping action, regardless of how long the batsman has actually been standing there quite safely, which is nothing but an annoying time waster. This can, quite honestly, get frustrating at times.
- Graphics and Sound
This game has received some criticism for not looking as good as you might expect an Xbox 360 release to look. As this was one of the first titles on this console that I played I must confess that I didn't notice anything too awful at first, although in retrospect I do concede that a little extra effort could have been spent in this area: it looks solid, but not spectacular. The players are decent enough, considering there are 140 of them licensed for the game - if not always exactly like their real life counterparts (I would feel less than flattered if I were Andrew Flintoff) - and the animations are fairly natural. However, some of the automatic movements controlled by the game look clunky and contrived, and I wouldn't recommend looking too closely at the crowd in the background as they are blockier than Lego. In regards to sound, the matches are, as we have perhaps come to expect from sports sims, accompanied by commentary, in this case from the likes of Tony Greig (although not, as I have noticed, always entirely appropriate to the action or even the teams that are playing). You also get unexciting but appropriate sound effects such as the ball being hit, wickets being knocked down and players calling for LBW. The quality of the sound in-game is good enough for me, but the menu pages music started to get on my nerves after only half a dozen games, and now each match must for me be set up on mute.
As with all good sporting games the basics are fairly easy to get the hang of, but success in this game depends on the nuances, the tricks and the timing. For example, learning to hit the ball when you're in to bat is not that hard, but learning how to time and place your shot to score fours and sixes without knocking the ball straight to the nearest fielder takes time and practice. This means that while the game may seem repetitive to observers, this constant challenge keeps it an interesting and fun game to come back to time and again. The Xbox achievements give it an added dimension, too; I just couldn't resist going back to it until I had managed to score my first century, double century and hat trick. All this adds up to a game that most gamers will be able to pick up and play competitively in quite a short space of time, and have fun with - and I found it a good deal more exciting than watching cricket! Keen fans of the sport may find it lacks too many subtleties for their liking and that the inability to play a full test series was too big an omission, but I think this is one game that should appeal to more general sports fans and game players alike.
Value for money: 7/10 (at current Amazon prices; 5/10 for RRP)
Learning Curve: About an hour to pick up and use the basics with confidence
Longevity: 4 to 6 weeks of regular gaming, but fun to pick up and play the odd game for months
Multiplayer options: Available on Xbox Live (but I have not used this option so cannot comment on it)
PEGI rating: Suitable for ages 3+
Price: Amazon - £15.26 (RRP £34.99)
Terrible Game! Stay Away!
This game is so rubbish its nothing like real cricket - batting is far too easy once youg et the hang of it, you will be hitting 6's every ball!
The most annoying part of the game is if the batsman go for a run and get in when the ball is thrown to the keeper he always knocks the stumps over even when the batsman are clearly in! This just wastes so much time its just stupid!
The players dont even have proper names unless you play in one of the 'liceneced' tournaments like the world cup. IF you just want to play a test match then you have to play with names like micheal vorner and andrew flantiff...frustrating? Oh yes!
I regret ever buying this game stay well away...dont buy EA cricket either though! That is rubbish too!
Stick to Halo 3 and COD for now!
brian lara 07 is the next installment of the critically aclaimed brian lara series. In the last game you choose a teamto guide through the cricket world cup, selcting and ultimatley playing as the team. The newest game has the same concept. The games improvements are hard to notice at first but you can see changes. The training for instance has a more indepth system, showing you step by step what is what. The main menu is slightley more clear an easy to navigate. The choice of locations and balls is pretty much the same except for the few extra venues included in the world cup. The playing of the game itself is fairley straight forward, ball goes to those stick things. The game isactually more complex with you deciding formations andbatting and bowling orders. The batting is quite easy as the bowling AI is that good. The bowling on the other hand is quite difficult with it ending up as a trial and error of ball locations and speeds. Overall a good game that only a true cricket fan would befound playing for hours.
The game recreates the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 as officially licensed events, complete with player names and likenesses. In addition, the game will also feature an array of officially licensed cricket equipment.