Game Over Online ~ Cricket Ashes Tour Edition

GameOver Game Reviews - Cricket Ashes Tour Edition (c) EA Sports, Reviewed by - Jaguar

Game & Publisher Cricket Ashes Tour Edition (c) EA Sports
System Requirements Pentium 90, 16MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 32%
Date Published Tuesday, December 8th, 1998 at 10:13 AM

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The Ashes Tour is a traditional series of cricket matches played between Australia and England. A series of five test matches are played every year alternating the host country annually. In 1882, England was defeated for the first time on home soil by Australia. It was dubbed the "death of English cricket" and the bails were burnt to ashes. An urn containing the ashes was sent to Australia and every year the two teams contest for the ashes. As you could probably guess, this game has been timely released, as the Ashes Tour is in progress at the moment in Australia. This brings even more luck for the designers (Melbourne House, an Australian firm) as the event is being held in home territory which can aid to sales. Funny enough, once loading the game and browsing the options you can find there is no relevance to the Ashes Tour leaving it even more transparent as a money-making scheme elusive of any real creativity.

The majority of games players come from the US and cricket is not very popular in that region. The reason why it is unpopular is probably because, unlike other US sports, cricket requires skill, patience and concentration. This lack of popularity has lead to the almighty "developing" buck to be shoved to other projects, leaving only one or two poor cricket games to be released every year. This offering is no exception.

Cricket: Ashes Tour is published by EA Sports, the pinnacle of sporting game development. Recent releases, including NBA Live 99 and Fifa 99, have been dazzling in every respect, especially graphics. Cricket, however, is a disgrace to the good name of EA Sports. There is no Glide or Direct 3D support and even if there was, it would not be able to breathe any life into its dismal graphics. The cricket player characters are pixellated and have very few movement frames. There was no visible difference between each individual player and depending on the country you pick, the only difference would be a different skin colour. In fact, I was surprised to find that India were not a pack of 11 white guys! Lately much has been put into the improvement of "wallpaper" crowds, but the creators of Cricket have done little to remedy this situation.

The sound is dreary, unatmospheric and certainly does not do justice to the feel of a live cricket game. Appealing for dismissal seems very ambient and not in-your-face like it is in real life. The noise of the crowd is very monotonous and, with little effort, could drive someone insane. The sound of the actual game is of standard variety.

There's only one positive thing I can say about the gameplay and that is there is a lot of room for improvement. These days many games consist of excellent sound and graphics and to seperate it from the norm, good, sound gameplay is needed. Unfortunately, Cricket: Ashes Tour does not have good gameplay to save it. In fact, the gameplay is the worst factor this game has to offer.

The pre-game options consist of a good choice of selection. You can change various aspects of the game: humidity (comfort), cloud cover, wind and type of pitch. Standard cricket rules are applied to the game adding to the little realism. There are five different in-game views, three of which are completely useless and unplayable with. My favourite view is the "zoomed" view which reveals the absolute ugliness of the player models. As cricket fans would expect, there are two modes of gameplay, batting and bowling/fielding, both of which are terrible. Bowling gives you the choice of delivery and placement of the ball. This all seems very complex, but when batting you hardly notice any difference between delivery types. Batting, in real life, is a varying activity. Your stance, leg placement, angle of bat, and power of shot are all needed to respond to the ball bowled. Alas, in Cricket: Ashes Tour, batting is virtually uncontrollable and in essence, a hit and miss affair.

There is no choice of stadiums and you are forced to play in the given one. The players are of no substance and many a time a cricket ball would go straight through one. This was common for many games of the past and is evidence of Cricket's datedness. When stumping or running out an opponent, the wickets unrealistically fall to pieces as if they were made of cardboard. I remember playing an old cricket game about four or five years ago, and I can honestly say no innovation has been applied since then. There are no new angles added, such as misfields (the fielders are God-like and are error-free) or the use of the third umpire for close decisions.

Surprisingly enough, there is support for IPX and modem games. One could also play multiplayer on a single computer via an additional joystick or gamepad. If single player was anything to go by, I doubted multiplayer would throw any sauce on this burnt steak. Multiplayer is almost exactly the same as single player and there is no feel of interaction between players.

Fun Factor:
This is a joke. Fun? I almost feel like allocating these points to other categories. Seriously though, this game is completely elusive of fun. Even the most hardcore of cricket fans will soon become tired of the gameplay as it trudges on at a phenomelly slow pace. The first game I played was of the minimum length, 10 overs, and it was so boring I could not imagine anyone willingly playing a longer game. The only fun thing I did was pressing the Quit button. I'm sorry for seeming so cynical, but I cannot say anything about this game with a straight face.

Overall Impression:
From the time of loading the game up, until the time I quit, there was not one thing that impressed me. You might be thinking that I am not a fan of cricket. This is quite to the contrary as I enjoy watching cricket and I play it as a sport. To all cricket fans, I suggest you give this a miss and wait for EA Sports Cricket World Cup 99.


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