EA Sports Cricket 2002 - Review
|14/12/2001||EA Sports||HB Studios||1-2||G||Medium|
If you're an avid sports fan living in Australia, England, South Africa, or much of the sub continent then you probably spend a good deal of your summer months enjoying either playing or watching cricket. It's the gentlemans sport, and one which has been played for well over a century now. Unfortunately, digital versions of the sport have been few and far between but Electronic Arts have been kind enough to develop Cricket 2002 for the PS2. The game has actually been developed by HB Studios in Canada, with EA's Studio Oz on the Gold Coast overseeing testing of the game. With constant delays from the inital September/October release date concerns were starting to build about whether the game could live up to lofty expectations.
|A massive hook shot.|
EA Sports Cricket 2002 is fairly well packed with features. The game includes the 10 official international teams, 2 minnow teams (Bangladesh and Scotland who are on the verge of inclusion into the Cricket world), and 5 all time squads from the cricketing nations which have to be unlocked. As you would expect the game includes all the players from around the world thanks to licenses from the ACB, ECB, NZ Cricket and the South African Cricket Board among others. The game modes and tournaments are varied and include the World Cup, World Series, Sharjah Trophy, Practice Nets, Test Matches, Exhibition matches and Knockout Tournaments.
Electronic Arts promised simple and intuitive controls through the Dual Shock 2 controller, and for the most part they have succeeded. While batting the four buttons corrospond with an attacking stroke (circle), defensive stroke (triangle), standard stroke (X) or to leave the ball (square). By pressing the L1 button you perform a more powerful shot with more hope of scoring a four or six however it also often skies the ball making your dismissal a lot more likely. While bowling you aim the ball using the analogue or digital sticks and then also use the direction control once again to control the spin or amount of seam on the ball. EA Sports Cricket 2002 gives you full control over your teams lineup, the posistion of your fielders and order of your bowlers. You also have the selection of manual or automatic fielding with either one being suitably implemented.
|The graphics really aren't too bad.|
While the game is a lot of fun there are some pretty big disappointments that should have been eliminated prior to release. The first problem is the bowling system used in the game. Moving the target around the pitch is extremely sensitive. Just touch the analogue stick and your aim will move all the way from leg side to off side. Worse still is that if you aim the target anywhere over the crease the computer sort of deflects it to somewhere else on the pitch, often just as the bowling target is about to be locked in. One minute you will be looking at the perfect yorker (where the ball bounces right at the batsmen's foot) and then the computer will suddenly move the target all the way over leg side, lock it in and with no option to cancel the bowlers run-up you cost the team 3 or 4 wide runs.
|No Brett Lee type celebrations here.|
Another inconsistancy with the game is the catches. Almost every time the fielder dives for a catch it will stick in his hands while on almost half the occasions of a simple lob catch the fielder will put the catch down. It's so annoying to see your fielder at short leg take a wonderful diving catch that would almost certainly be dropped in a real match by most players and then see him drop another one a few minutes later that even a 10 year old cricker could hold. Finally, the saddest thing with this game is the number of bugs present in the code. They aren't just small things either and can actually cause the whole game to stop dead in its tracks. But for more on this see the seperate "BUGS..." box to the left.
No, not the kind found in the movie Starship Troopers, but the kind that causes software to do some very strange things. Sadly, Cricket 2002 is the most bug-ridden console game since Mortal Kombat Trilogy on PSOne. Some of the bugs that I've seen in 20 hours game time, as well as their frequency, are as follows:
1. Program totally freezes during a match (three times)
2. Sound glitch creates repeated commentary phrase (twice)
3. Only middle stump is visible for remainder of innings (5+ times)
4. Sound drops out completely part way into match (twice)
5. Sound goes to a constant buzzing sound (once)
6. Incorrect calculation of current run rates (all matches)
7. Delay between action on screen and sound effects (5+ times)
One of the more pleasing aspects with Cricket 2002 is the graphics. The animation on the cricketers is quite good, although they tend to waddle rather then run, with many little nuances such as clearing rubbish from the pitch, fielders ambling in to pick up the ball and asjusting the gloves occuring quite regulary. Unfortunately the texture mapping on the players faces is quite horrific. Shane Warne looks more like Freddy Kreuger so spotting players during the actual game is almost impossible. Cricket 2002 includes a wide variety of pitches from around the world each of which has a different look. The pitches vary from quite green to bone dry while the day/night matches result in the lights being turned on. Unfortunately, night cricket looks a little strange as the entire field is given a strange, and quite unrealistic, green glow. Also, even though it's night time, and it may be at the MCG with 5 light towers, there is only one shadow cast from each player as if the sun was still up. The stadiums seem quite realistic but miss some accuracy (especially with the buildings in the distance) while the crowd is very disappointing and little better then those seen in Cricket '96 on the PC all those years ago.
Sound-wise this game is rather disappointing. The sound effects are adequate, although occasionally they'll happen a few seconds after the actual event and obviously while data is loading. The music is rather forgettable but it's the speech that causes the most concern. Ritchie Benaud never manages to sound anywhere near as interesting as he is on TV while the colour commentary isn't much better then those in Cricket 2000. Also the game, while fairly accurate, still comes up with some terrible comments such as "That's a lovely way to get off the mark" when the player was nearly run out. Also the "There's a mix-up with the batsmen" every time you abort taking a run or "It's time to introduce the spin bowlers" when they have already bowled an over or so becomes very annoying.
|Diving catches are rarely dropped.|
It's such a shame that there are so many bugs in this game. Electronic Arts have been delaying the game constantly to fix these faults but obvioulsly they had to get the game out in time for Christmas. Still, what is there is moderately solid enough with some nice graphics and a fairly enjoyable game. If your a mad cricket fan then you should get quite a bit of enjoyment out of this title, once you get over the initial disappoinment. When you look at the development team of under 20 people, compared to almost 100 for EA's premiere games like Madden NFL 2002 and NHL 2002, then much can be forgiven. It's certainly better then nothing, but still requires some fine tuning to become a great game. Perhaps next year then.
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|GRAPHICS||Fairly solid player animation, but some mistakes, poor facial textures.||72%|
|SOUND||Commentary is merely functional and repetitive, average sound effects.||67%|
|GAMEPLAY||Technically not the best, but cricket lovers should enjoy the game.||74%|
|VALUE||Plenty of tournaments, plenty of teams, several teams to unlock.||88%|
|OVERALL||A disappoint game from EA but given the resources it's adequate.||75%|