So Australia has lost the Ashes finally and the world of cricket possibly won't ever be the same. Obviously with such a massive series on offer games were bound to be made and EA were first on the market with Cricket 2006 which was a decent effort but Ricky Ponting Cricket was always looming in the background and looked like the better game. The final game is here and we were right. Ricky Ponting is by far the better game for one major reason, you can actually bat!
Ricky Ponting contains a number of game modes such as test match, one day international, world trophy and ICC Champions Trophy. Most are self explanatory but Codemasters have gone to the trouble to get the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 license meaning that you can play a series completed one year ago. Now on the surface this sounds extremely stupid, but in practice it was a master stroke as it allowed them to get around EA's exclusive license agreements with the ECB and Cricket Australia.
As in the real world, the game is divided into three main areas; batting, bowling and fielding. We do have one problem with bowling and that is it seems nigh on impossible to get someone out, even with very fast, correct length bowling for a sustained period of time. Patience is a virtue and it's something you need in RP, especially when playing a test match. However the bowling mechanic is very well done with the face buttons representing different styles of swing. Circle for instance swings the ball right, while square left, just like the placement on the controller.
Batting on the other hand is also superbly executed. As in the real world it's all about the timing and the more cherries you get the better you are batting. At first batting will seem ridiculously hard but chances are you will be swinging early or late. If you miss time, it's going to possibly be a wicket especially with the big swings, so controlled, timed batting is required. The batsman is also required to play themselves in before having any chance of having a huge six.
However this doesn't apply to the entire game. For those who want a pick up and play slogfest, Codemasters has included a mode aptly known as slog mode. In this mode, the bowlers may as well be playing 20/20 test matches as you can hit six after six out of the ground even with the best bowling. We do recommend this mode first off because it allows you to get the timing required right without risking your wickets too often.
License wise this game has some truly ridiculous contracts in place. In the ICC mode every team is licensed as are the players. Outside of that it's false names and likenesses. However with that said, there is a multitude of stadiums from around the globe featured and possibly the most number of commentators ever featured in a game ranging from fan favorites such as Jonathon Agnew through to famous players such as Tony Greg. The voice of cricket is absent due to being an EA exclusive. Where you play determines which commentators you get, as in the real world.
Visually the game has its ups and downs. In some areas of the games the players have fantastic likeness due to the licensing, whereas in others they are completely different. The animations and visuals are quite well done and players react when they get hit by the ball. The bowlers all have individual actions as well such as the now infamous Flintoff run up and bowl. Commentary and sound effects are very well done with the commentators talking about relevant topics when the play seems a little boring and lackluster.
Ricky Ponting Cricket was worth the wait despite the lack of licenses. The slog mode is fun with friends but for the true cricket fan timing is everything and that's what this game offers - a tough challenge which rewards patience and practice.