Big Ant come out swinging with the best cricket game in years.
If I was in the mood to play a sports game, the chances are a cricket title will be down near the bottom of the list. It’s not that I’m particularly dismissive of the sport, far from it, but it feels like it’s been a long time since there’s been a solid cricket video game that appeals to the hardcore and the mainstream alike, perhaps only Brian Lara Cricket way back on the PS1 was the last truly great simulator that was genuinely enjoyable for a large audience. And so when Ashes Cricket landed on my doormat I was hesitant, but jumped in with my optimistic hat on. I’m glad I did, Ashes Cricket is the best cricket game since Brian Lara and undoubtedly the most engaging recreation of the sport in years.
What makes this game appealing to the masses is the player licenses, male and female England and Australia licenses are all fully represented, with all domestic Australian teams also included – though you can also edit and create any team you like -. This certainly helps with the games realism, though we’re not going to be confusing this one with an EA Sports title anytime soon. It certainly brings the credible likenesses, which adds to the appeal, and the batting and bowling animation are actually pretty good and unique to a variety of in-game players.
Eagle-eyed users will probably notice personal touches added to individual players that I didn’t, but you can certainly tell movement and play style is important to add to the realism Ashes Cricket is aiming for.
The AI of the fielders though does bring into question how much detail was placed upon anything that’s happening away from the pitch. You can get caught out in highly unrealistic ways which can bring you straight out of the action. Particularly if the ball is raising high and it’s anywhere near a fielder they can simply place his arm in the air and nine times out of ten you’ll be out before you know it. It’s really frustrating, and unless you thwack the ball really high the chances are your batsman will be outta there without much hassle. At times the fielders don’t even look up at the ball. It’s a real shame as most everything else is solid, but the lack of attention to the field is just bizarre.
There’s no chance you’re going to be bereft of modes to get stuck into in Ashes Cricket. There’s obviously an Ashes mode will allows you to play through the entire tournament as either male or female teams and it’s exciting and fun to get stuck into. You’ve also got a career mode where you can either play as an unknown or as an established player. You’ve also got an online mode which will allow you to challenge players around the world in casual matches. Or get decimated. Like I did. Decimated. Decimated.
As mentioned above, you can create and edit teams you support in the game. The Cricket Academy allows you to import creations online, along with being able to edit bats, stadiums, logos and more, even what the umpire looks like. If you’re into your cricket this is an invaluable mode, and will let you live out your wildest cricket fantasies. You know, if that’s your thing.
So yes, Ashes Cricket is the best cricket game in the world right now and that’s no hyperbole. With the variety of options available along with the full license integration and the creation modes, you’re never going to get bored. Yes, the fielding AI is strangely way off, the commentary is bloody terrible and the tutorial, though essential, is hugely intimidating and poorly designed. As the tutorial is normally the first interactive aspect of the video game a user will play, the fact this one is so jam packed and so difficult to navigate is a worry, and not the great first impression of a game which, despite this, is really quite good.
Once you’re free to roam the game, though, you’re gonna have a damn good time.
Ashes Cricket is available now on PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One. It’s available on PC in December.
Developer: Big Ant Studios
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.