I have played quite a few Cricket video games back in the early and the mid-’00s and my personal favorites were Cricket 97, Cricket 07 from EA Sports, and Brian Lara Cricket 2007 or BLC from Codemasters. But since then, there has been a dearth of good Cricket video games. Some companies have tried to offer it but cricket fans had nothing that compared to FIFA/PES, Madden, and NBA2K games. Enter Big Ant Studios from Australia with their consistent rollout of Cricket games since the Don Bradman 14. Cricket 22 is the culmination of Big Ants’ learnings over the years but is the game enough to scratch the itch of Cricket fans globally? Read on.
Cricket for all
Cricket is a simple game to play, but rules can be confusing. To alleviate this and allow users to get comfortable with the controls, Cricket 22 explains the rules that help newcomers understand the intricacies of batting, bowling, and fielding.
More often than not, sports games are valued for their licensing deals with different teams and tournaments and while Cricket 22 does not have it for most of the international teams, it gets full collaboration from England and Australia, earning it the official game of The Ashes moniker. With blessings from ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and CA (Cricket Australia), the game also has licenses for Australia’s Big Bash T20 and The Hundred, a new competition in England and Wales. The game also has licenses for the CPL in the Caribbean and fully licensed West Indies, New Zealand, and Ireland teams, besides Australia and England. Interestingly, the game also brings women teams to the fore.
The benefit of having licenses is that the game has the right to use real player names and other parameters to deliver an authentic sports sim experience.
But that does not mean we are locked out of the full game experience. We can still play T20s, ODIs, and 5-day Test Matches with local and international teams, however, the player names, character modeling, batting, and bowling style feel generic.
Now, this is where the community takes over. Users can head to the community and download players, teams, and lots more to make their Cricket 22 experience as authentic as possible. I was able to briefly try the feature and download some players, but the game kept crashing repeatedly. Crowdsourcing is the perfect way to keep the game fresh as new players and teams emerge in the real cricketing world. Big Ant has even released an Academy Creation tool for players.
Visuals and Audio
Big Ant has done a good job with Cricket 22 visuals, at least with the players of the licensed teams. The player semblance, licensed stadiums look realistic in the game but it’s a completely different story when it comes to unlicensed teams. Forget about the player likeness, most players bear the same face in the playing XI. Barring a few, most stadiums look dull too and so does the crowd. They are understandably sparse in local matches but even the packed ground during The Ashes looks unconvincing.
There are weird one-line cutscenes that act as fillers but don’t add to the overall experience. It would have been nice if the game allowed skipping cutscenes like pitch report, toss, or even completing a task to reduce the fatigue.
The commentary team is packed with the likes of Michael Atherton, Ian Healy, Mel Jones, Alison Mitchell, and David Gower, but the commentary seems completely disconnected in the game. Three dot balls and the batsmen are finding it very difficult to play in a Test match or back-to-back boundaries and the batting team is trying to up the run rate or bowling a dead ball (bowler completes the run-up without delivering the ball) is lauded as a good comeback after being hit for a four or a six. These are just some examples but the conclusion is that the commentary from these reputed names is weak, repetitive, and uninteresting.
Cricket 22 offers a variety of modes to play like The Ashes, the Big Bash, and the CPL. There are, of course, other international and national-level competitions one can play and even hone skills in the nets. However, the most intriguing is the Career Mode. You can create and play as that player and move up the ranks from a local star to a successful international cricket player. The Career Mode also lets you control other aspects of the player’s career like dealing with injuries, improving skills with training sessions, fatigue management. The mode is promising, but reaching the top seems like a grind as local league matches can feel repetitive after some time.
The game offers two types of control schemes — Arcade and Pro. The Arcade scheme is the easier one while the Pro offers more control for advanced players.
Batting is enjoyable on Cricket 22 and it depends on three factors — footwork, timing, and shot choice. The game does a good job to show how you did after each delivery. It gives split-second visibility of the ball marker where you get to decide on where you want to play the shot and how you want to play the shot. The button combos to hit the right shot take a few deliveries to get used to, but the batting experience is good.
Bowling too is easy and you need to follow the moving cursor in the vertical bar to bowl a successful delivery. You can bowl different balls depending on the bowler type. There is a good variety of delivery options, but the thing I have noticed is bowling does not take into consideration the pitch and weather conditions for a particular delivery, like in a real cricket match.
You can also field the balls and, with visual triggers on the screen, choose to throw the ball at either end to a teammate or go for glory with a direct hit.
But it’s not all fine and dandy. The AI is unreliable at times and there’s a peculiar issue where players seem to glide to reach the ball. For instance, you decide to play the hook shot to a short ball that is angled on the offside, the batter will glide to the position to create a favorable angle. Another instance is during fielding where the fielder is nowhere close to the ball but makes a superhuman glide to save the ball or make a catch.
Getting Cricket 22 completely depends on if you are a fan of the sport or not. I would recommend staying away for now or waiting for the sale to pick it up but if you like watching and playing Cricket, despite its flaws, Cricket 22 is the only game that offers the full cricketing experience and is available on all major gaming platforms. Big Ant has been proactive in addressing the bugs and is complemented by a supportive community that ensures the game remains fresh with an updated roster and teams.
The game is available on Games The Shop for PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.