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November 1, 2003
EA Sports Cricket 2004 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
10/12/2003EA SportsHB Studios1-4$99.95

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The typical gameplay viewpoint.
It seems like an eternity for this sequel to EA Sports Cricket 2002 finally come to fruition and hit the shelves. The original game remains as one of the highest selling titles on Sony's system in Australia. To say that EA Sports Cricket 2004 is improved somewhat is an understatement. This game is a complete overhaul of the original, and looks absolutely brilliant as a result. With a development period of approximately 18 months the developers, HB Studios, have been able to pack this game full of additional features and options. Will this game be an essential purchase for those with the original, absolutely.

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New Zealand are struggling.
As well as all of the international teams and bonus squads, EA Sports Cricket 2004 will include domestic teams and competitions from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa thanks to the licenses from their corresponding cricket boards. Test matches as well as One-day Internationals will also be included for this game and the Playstation 2 version will have 4-player support for some 2-on-2 action. In addition to the tournaments that you have come to know and love from the game will include a Master League. According to EA's press release the Master League will be a highlight of this game - although they neglect to state exactly what it is.

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Creating a player.
For the cricketing buff there will be no end to the detail. A large variety of statistical graphs will be available including run rate, wagon wheel graphs, as well as a huge amount of statistical data on every player that will track over the course of a tournament. The game will revolve around a full TV style presentation including a full action replay mode, third umpire, animated ducks, TV style overlays, field position editor and much more. The field position editor will allow for auto or manual fielding. A full Player Editor allows players to change the features of current team members to your own local team.

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Take a hike son.
EA Sports Cricket 2004 will include over 75 stadia will be modeled from all over the world, including Lords in England, Calcutta, Melbourne, Auckland, Cape Town, Barbados and Lahore. The detail in the stadia will be amazing and will include a variety of pitch types and conditions. During test matches the pitch will even degrade over time. Lighting (the game does include day/night matches) and shadows are of the highest grade and together with real time weather will all add to authenticity of the playing experience.

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Smashing it over the bowler.
The in-game graphics certainly look impressive with a dramatic increase in the detail on the players faces and bodies including various body sizes. Let's hope they texture map actual player faces for more authenticity as it was sorely missed from the original game. The animation, which was also a disappointment in EA Sports Cricket 2002 should be dramatically improved thanks to all new motion capturing. Commentary in the game will be provided by Jim Maxwell and the legendary Richie Benaud while the crowd effects are based on real crowd sounds from around the world.

One can only hope that the developers make this game a lot more stable then EA Sports Cricket 2002 which was among the most bug-ridden games ever seen. With 18 months development the developers, HB Studios, should have had enough time to iron out all the wrinkles. They have certainly had enough time to add tonnes of detail to the game. Expect a release for this title in time for Christmas.