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October 12, 2005
Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2005 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Swordfish Studios
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Look, it's Andy Bichel.
When it comes to the Summer sports nothing captures the passion of millions of fans like cricket. To date the Playstation 2 has been graced with three cricket titles from Electronic Arts although none of them were really great games, with their last effort, Cricket 2005, particularly average. Now the makers of the highly respected Shane Warne Cricket have released their fist cricket title on PS2, and fans are likely to be very happy indeed. Ricky Ponting Cricket (or Brian Lara Cricket as it's known overseas) is an excellent title.

This game includes all forms of the sport including One Day Matches, Test Matches and Double Wicket Matches which is a 4-player game with two bowlers and two batsmen. All the worlds teams are included from Australia, England, South Africa and England down to minnows such as Canada, The Netherlands and Bangladesh with 16 players in each countries squad. Unfortunately unlike EA's recent title there are no domestic teams included in this title making the player count considerably lower. Another oddity in this game is that real player names are only used in official tournaments, probably due to licensing restrictions. In exhibition matches B. Lee becomes B. Leap, and S. Warne is S. Warde and so on. Fortunately Codemasters have been generous enough to include a name editor, so after a minute or two everyone is back to normal.

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Bowling down leg side...
Before you get into the game modes it's a good idea (if you want) to set up your own career player. You can enter your name, abilities, which hand you bat with (c'mon guys, keep it clean!) and also select your appearance (limited to the heads of the real players in the game). This player can then appear in your selected team during any modes throughout the game, as you start to score runs and take wickets or catches your stats gradually increase over time.

In terms of game modes there is plenty here to sing your teeth into. As well as exhibition matches (which can include One Day Internationals, Test Matches or Double Wicket) the game includes the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, World XI Series, World Tour and Custom League. Many of these matches allow you to change settings such as the number of overs, which ground you're playing on, the pitch condition, time of day, weather, ball type and condition, fielding restrictions and of course difficulty.

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Throw back to the keeper.
As with any cricket game there are two components batting and bowling. The bowling in this game isn't quite handled as well as I expected. After selecting the general target area each of face buttons is used to select the type of delivery. Square and circle break to their respective directions, X is a normal delivery while triangle is a slow ball.

In terms of fielding in Ricky Ponting Cricket you have full control over the 60-odd positions on the field and while the players will manually run to the ball unlike the haphazard catching in EA's title this game requires that you press a button at a precise moment in order to be successful. Likewise, throwing the ball back to the keeper is also done with a press of the button at a precise moment to determine the strength. Try as we might however, and we've finished about 30 one day matches we never managed to run out any AI controlled batsmen as they never take a risky run, even when there's a good chance of a single down to third man or long on or off. Something for the developers to look at for next time.

Where this game really shines is the batting which is infinitely more enjoyable then Electronic Arts' dire efforts. While batting the Square button is used for a defensive shot, the X button for a normal shot and circle for a lofted shot. Combine this with the analogue direction and while it may seem restrictive it's not in the least bit. Before the ball is bowled you can even move left or right along the crease. This game doesn't seem to restrict the ball to set paths as Cricket 2005 did but rather the ball will head in absolutely every direction, and if you

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Bowling on target.
There are plenty of areas which could have been improved to make this title even more exciting. Firstly while it's possible to move left and right across the pitch there's no way to charge down the wicket for an offensive shot, as a result there are no stumpings in the game. As previously mentioned it's impossible to get a runout against AI batsmen (at least we didn't in all the games we played). I would have also liked to see larger player squads to select from, or even injuries during tournaments, if only for a match or two - perhaps if your batsmen get hit with a fast paced bowler. Also annoying is the fact that it's impossible to scamper through for a quick single on a LBW appeal. Another niggle, you can only ever throw the ball back to the keeper, even if he's the further throw on a tight run out opportunity. These are only small issues, but ones which could have been fixed prior to release.

Graphically this game isn't quite as sharp as Electronic Arts' Cricket 2005 with less realism in the players, stadiums and lighting. Despite the statistics of Ricky Ponting Cricket having only 800 animations compared to 1000 for Cricket 2005, this game simply seems to have a wider range. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the ball seems to travel to different locations on the ground at a more frequent rate. Player models also look a little rough around the edges and while many players look similar to their real-life counterpart they certainly aren't photo-realistic.

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No Ball.
Audio in Ricky Ponting Cricket is a bit of a mixed bag. The commentary is fairly good although occasionally inaccurate or monotonous. It will call the second ball of an over as the first ball, or say that there was "no run there" on every ball of a maiden over. The crowds also need a lot more life put into them. They seem to have a constant roar to them and rarely go silent if there's a quite period in a game. Go to a real match and if a couple of maidens are bowled the crowd often becomes a dull murmur, not the loud ruckus we have in this game. There is almost no distinction between the crowds in different parts of the world either.

Despite the flaws Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2005 is without question the best cricket game ever. While one can hope for an improved sequel somewhere down the line this will keep us a lot more entertained then the rather dull efforts from Electronic Arts.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSNot as realistic as EA's title, but wider range of animations.
SOUNDNo player names used in commentary, repetitive. Average crowds.
GAMEPLAYThis is where this game destroy's EA's effort - in a massive way.
VALUEQuite a few extras to unlock, several game modes to play.
OVERALLCertanily the best cricket game pl Playstation 2, by a massive margin. If you like cricket this is an essential purchase despite some small issues. A fantastic title.

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