Ashes Cricket 2009 – Review (X360)

by Victor ‘r0gue’ Vieira


Overview

The ‘Ashes test series’ is one of the more prestigious cricket series. Named after the legendary Arthur Ash, It is played between England and Australia. This is the latest cricket game from Codemasters since the retirement of the namesake of Codemasters’ previous cricket game- Brian Lara. So Codemasters went with a new licence for their new title as EA Games still have the official ICC license. So obviously Australia and England are fully licenced and as for the rest….well I’m sure you can work out who H.Gabbs is from South Africa. You can play in this historic battle that is Ashes, or choose the other forms of cricket series’ i.e test, one-day or 20/20 and choose from the known cricket nations that include New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Ireland, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Kenya and Ireland. If counties is not your thing then you are limited to ‘All-Star’ selections, however you can customise your selection aswell as edit your players.



Gameplay and Features

Those who played the previous Brian Lara games will immidiately feel comfortable with this one and controlls will feel familiar. They have however developed many aspects and made this one more technical and less random with both batting and bowling. All the aspects of the game of cricket have been improved and they have even included the ability to catch now which needs you to push the button with the correct timing. You will feel more in conrtol with bat and the ball, having way more options than before. As usual you use timing to bat and boul, but now you have a more descriptive ‘shot’ or ‘bowl’ selections with everything in view on your screen. I am very impressed with all the new elements in view which just add to the technical aspect of the game. They even went as far as having the players mindset or confidence in view which will help you decide on going for that boundary or wicket when your player’s confidence is up. Your first port of call should definitely be a very complete and categorized tutorial to learn exactly what you are doing and help fine tune your game. Then finish it off with some great challenges of real-life situations in matches of the past.

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Fielding does not require too much input but more than before. You have control over your teams positioning in the field according to the bowler-type. In the field choose which end to throw the ball to aswell as the previously mentioned catching, where the camera view goes behind you so you can monitor your timing. Prepare for many dropped catches. A very nice touch was the ‘diving’ option when running between wickets which is asigned to one of your buttons, the others being to cue a run or stop the run. You have control over your teams positioning.

Batting includes all the different shot types from defensive to attacking and you choose to play off the back or front froot using LB and LT. If you are not sure what foot to play off you can leave the ‘foot buttons’ and it becomes auto, however playing off the correct foot will give you more accurate placement of shots. From there you can choose the direction of the shot with the success depending on how you choose to strike the various bowling types. So get your batter’s eye in conservatively and when his confidence is up play the shots that will get your runs up. Timing plays a big roll in where the ball hits your bat and it even illustrates once you’ve hit the ball wether it was an inside or outside edge. Nice touch indeed.

Like the batting there is more depth to bowling than before which allows all the type of bowling that your particulars bowlers action allows. Once you have chosen the ball type, then it is controlled placement of length and line followed by timing that will determine the success or failure of the ball. Once again if you get your bowlers confidence up the chances of more dangerous balls becomes easier. You can bowl to off or on side, choose the type of swing or spin all very accurately besides your timing which determines the pace. If you don’t press the buttom with correct timing you will ball a ‘no ball’ which is now a ‘free hit’, a rule that was changed recentely in Cricket.

Visually the game is rather good. The presentation is neat and visually pleasing. The Stadiums and pitches look very good and realistic, but the players look a bit generic. Some players are more recognisable than others. The players actions are very well done with a few awkward moments here and there, but overal the player’s animations do add nicely to the atmosphere. Another aspect that adds to the atmosphere is the broadcast like ’go-to scenes’ where the bowler is taking up his approach etc etc. Batting sounds ‘meaty’, the ball sounds ‘heavy’ as it hits the pitch and the crowds sounds are good and realistic too. The ‘real-life’ commentators give good commentary but after some hours it does become familiar.


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Bits I loved

  • A great cricket game finally.
  • Great presentation.
  • 20/20 furious action.
  • Technicality of the game.
  • You can save a match during the match and pick up next time where you left off.
  • Way less randomness than the series’ games of the past.
  • Fun fun fun.
  • You actually have to work for boundaries.

Bits I hated

  • SA stats were a little done in, although you can edit them.
  • Some players look nothing like in reality. Once again though if this bothers you, you can have a go at editing them.
  • The dropped catches.
  • More dropped catches.
  • Why does EA buy the licences to everything out there?
  • Could not find that “cherry on top” aspect of the game overall

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Conclusion


Ashes Cricket 2009 is without a doubt the best cricket game yet. Way more detail than before really help this one be far less random than the previous titles, capturing the atmosphere, thrills and spills associated with cricket. Codemasters can definitely not be accused of not going far enough forward with this one and deliver a great looking, great feeling cricket game that is hugely entertaining. While the technically of it all is enough to please avid cricketers and the variety should keep them entertained for a long time coming, it might be a little too much for someone who is looking for a ‘pick-up and play’ sort of game. They would probably find a better fit with a more ‘arcady’ sport game that could be easily picked up and played without being too technical. I definitely give this one the thumbs up and as someone that grew up in a cricket nation this will get allot of milage in my console.

Best cricket game yet….although they have left room for improvement.

Ashes Cricket 2009 is available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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