E3, Wimbledon and the World Cup are all huge events that have just been around this past month so Codemasters thought it would be a good idea to release a cricket game slap bang in the middle just for good measure. So what else to do but grab my bat, put on my knee pads, insert my ever important cup for protection and head out onto the crease to see what this was all about?
Upon booting up the game you are met with the simple option of playing cricket or jumping into the tutorials. Because I am a total novice I decided to jump straight into the action and see how hard cricket actually is. I mean how hard can it possibly be? Well the answer is very. I had little choice but to jump back to the main menu and into the tutorials. Here you can learn all things cricket including batting, bowling and fielding. Unfortunately should you wish to learn a certain aspect of the game, off spin shots for instance, you’ll need to complete any previous tutorials in the list to unlock other areas. This is slightly annoying as the tutorials are very slow and often give you the ‘let me skip to the next one’ feeling. After learning the specifics it’s time to head back onto the field.
There aren’t any career modes in IC10 but there’s only so much time in the year to play so it’s probably a wise idea. Instead you can play a variety of different exhibition matches and tournaments. From the fast(ish) paced game 20/20 to the old school Test matches which take place over 5 days. If longevity is your thing you can play the various amounts of tournaments including a 20/20 knock-out tournament, the Champions Cup which is played over 5, 10, 25 or 50 overs or alternatively create your own with the custom tournament option.
When playing a game either one player or online, you’ll get to make use of the new third person camera angle which is similar to the ‘Be a Pro’ camera angle on FIFA 10. This new angle is pretty decent and does make you feel more like a batsman and involve you in the game more. The game play itself is also pretty simple and easy to get to grips with. When bowling a simple circular target is on the crease and this is where the ball will bounce first. To try and bowl your opponent out for a duck there are three different bowling types; in spin, out spin and straight. The batting follows a similar format. You’re able to attack the ball low, go for a six and all the glory by trying to smash the ball high, or play defensive and use your defence shot option. For those wanting to develop their skills further you can move left and right for position as well as attacking the ball on your front or back foot. The latter will test your cricket skill as depending on where the bowler is going to bowl, you’ll need to adjust your stance at the last minute. Remember the umpire will also have the last laugh as he can use the revolutionary Hawkeye system to determine a difficult decision.
The problem I find with IC10, and no doubt many others of you will, is that at the end of the day it’s cricket. I had hopes of IC10 appealing to the wider audience but unfortunately I don’t think it does. It just takes too long for anything to happen and for anyone wishing to nip on and have a quick game you can forget it. Even when playing a match spanning a mere 5 overs the game can take over 20 minutes. Now you might not think 20 minutes sounds long, but when it plays out at the pace cricket plays it’s just not very much fun, for me anyway. If you love cricket then this is definitely the best thing on the market although it should be stipulated that the online side of things will put you off.
If playing against the predictable AI isn’t your cup of tea then you’ve always got the Xbox LIVE side of things to keep you company. Or at least you would think so. Online should be known as offline as far as I’m concerned as it’s absolutely pointless to say the least. Not only are there hardly any players online at any given time, but from the leaderboards it looks like there has only ever been a maximum of 100 players even played a full game online, and that was for the most popular – loosely putting it – online mode ODI (One Day international). To the date of this review, a mere 18 people have completed at least one Test match. That coupled with the fact that the only 2 games I did manage to play disconnected completely ruined my online experience. If you have had success online it would be great to hear from you.
Like the LIVE scenario the visuals in the game could have seen better days. The licensed players from the Australian and English team look like their professional counterparts however their movements in the cut-scenes are the complete opposite. So much so that all players when walking or moving look like they’ve been out for a curry the night before, if you see where I’m going with this. Not only that but some of the scenes like the coin toss for example are just very jaggy and could do with being polished up.
Overall IC10 has the foundations to be a decent cricket game but far too many areas just aren’t up to scratch. Codemasters have seized their chance in the cricket market however, correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think there is a market for cricket games. You just need to look at the crippled online aspect to realise this point. Only the cricket enthusiast should make a purchase and even then it should only be if found in a bargain sale due to its un-polished nature.