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July 20, 2005
EA Sports Cricket 2005 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
7/7/2005EA GamesHB Studios1-2GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
3305KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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Now that's a great stadium!
My god. This was a game I had such high expectations for. The screens looked nice, the game had a tonne of teams and options and all the early buzz was of an improved title all round. But oh how my hopes came crashing down quicker then an English batting collapse. EA Sports Cricket is such a hard game to review. On the one hand the graphics have improved and there's a tonne of teams and game modes to keep you playing, but the gameplay is just so lacking.

Let's start with the good (I can get this part over with pretty quickly you see). EA Sports Cricket 2005 includes a tonne of teams and options. As well as all the international teams including the likes of Australia, England and New Zealand and all the way down to Canada and Kenya the developers have also included domestic teams from England Australia and New Zealand. Cricket fanatics will be ecstatic by this inclusion. The developers have also included Test Matches, One Day Matches and the new Twenty 20 matches - although in One Day matches you can even have 10 over matches. The developers have also modeled 35 stadiums from around the globe while a variety of pitch and weather conditions are also available.

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Note the sponsors logos...
As there are three separate components to cricket - bowling, batting and fielding - we will look at each as separate components. Bowling is one area where the developers have put in a bit of effort. After you select the bowler you then have the choice of delivery. If you have delivered several good balls some special deliveries also become available. After the desired target has been selected the power meter starts up. Prior to stopping the meter at the desired power level you can now also push the analogue stick in one direction or another to select the amount of swing. It works remarkably well. The problem with this title is that it's way to easy to find a sweet spot, deliver a terrible ball, and get the opposition out. It's bad enough the first time, but when you get most of the opposing team out for a handful of runs its an exploit that should have been fixed. Strangely the CPU opposition also has a wonderful knack of hitting the most deadly delivery, the yorker, for six. What gives?

Unfortunately the batting also has its problems - and big ones at that. The game allows for front foot, normal, and back foot shots as well as an option to leave the ball. By pressing R1 during your shot the batsmen goes for a powerful shot. No matter how much practice you have in timing your shots or practicing in the nets, the chances that you will pull off a successful innings with several boundaries and sixes is remote. The odds of you lobbing the ball directly to a perfectly placed fielder is remarkably. In fact I can almost guarantee that big shots will more often then not end up in the hands of a fielder. Also annoying is the fact that once the ball is being bowled your batsmen gets magical sticky glue on the bottom of his shoes. That's right he can't move an inch, not even to flick the ball off the pads, or move back to smack the ball to the boundary. Overall I found the batting experience in this game inferior to that in EA Sports Cricket 2004.

Finally we come to the fielding. Yes, you can place your fielders in almost any position on the ground, and in general the fielders when set to automatic do a reasonably good job. What is extremely disappointing is how fielders will drop some of the most simple chances and yet catch those many would consider impossible. This would be reasonable enough if fielders only dropped maybe one in twenty easy chances, but the odds are more like one in four.

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Australia is at 1/15.
One good thing has come out of EA Sports Cricket 2005 - the developers have fixed almost all of the bugs from the previous title. There's still some bad mistakes, for instance after batting second you don't win by a certain number of wickets, but by one or two runs. Save size is still a major issue I have with the game. Even without all the fancy features of EA's major sports franchises this game still demands a hefty 3305kb - that's almost half your memory card! I would love to know what data they are saving in such a massive file. Run outs look very dodgy at times, poor quality replays and questionable decisions abound while LBW decisions still need some work as well, although they are much better then in past games.

In terms of graphics the developers have really upped the ante. Cricket has never looked better. With the addition of over 1,000 new motion captured moves the game looks a lot more realistic. The replays could still be improved - especially LBW decisions, but overall the game looks nice. We would have loved another camera angle just a little further away from the wicket while playing, but not quite as far back as the next option which almost places you in the grandstand.

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Bowling to Langer.
Sound is one area that we highlighted as an area that really needed improvement in EA Sports Cricket 2004 and guess what - almost nothing has changed. The commentary from the legendary Richie Benaud and Jim Maxwell is still as broken up and stuttery as ever; "Australia has" "Four" "overs" "to bowl". The crowds are adequate, but certinaly not the best ever heard, while the music is generally confined to menus.

"We don't like cricket, oh no, we love it!" - at least that's what I said in our preview of this game. Unfortunately we don't love this game. Do us a favour Electronic Arts, get rid of HB Studios and either find a new development team, or develop the cricket game in-house. EA Sports Cricket 2005 has a couple of changes and improvements over previous games but the game becomes so infuriating during batting that it becomes a chore more then a pleasure to play. Unless you really want to play a cricket game during the upcoming Ashes series you may be better off waiting to see how Ricky Ponting Cricket 2005 turns out before choosing between the two games.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Games Warehouse (PAL Version)
GRAPHICSQuite nice actually, one area where HB Studios have spent time.
SOUNDI would have expected improvements from the last game - there isn't.
GAMEPLAYBowling is way to easy, batting way too hard. Needed balancing.
VALUEPlenty of options and teams, but you'll soon wish it was more fun.
OVERALLCricket 2005 is an improved game technically, but is really let down by the gameplay in several areas. Certainly could have been better - much better.

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