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Jeremy Jastrzab
29 Mar, 2007

Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 Review

PC Review | It won't bowl you over but it might hit some expectations for six.
Here at PALGN we’re quite big fans of cricket. With our World Cup under way, we’ve recently received the PC version of the follow up to Codemaster’s Ricky Ponting International Cricket. It’s been about a year-and-a-half since we played it and some may have disagreed with the optimism of our final score. However, the fact that Cricket 07 not only borrowed several elements from the game, it also made numerous improvements that were necessary from years before, showing how much of an impact it made on Cricket games. While Cricket 07 was an incremental improvement over its predecessor, how does Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 stack up against its predecessor?

The original game graced the PS2, Xbox and PC. With the Xbox now all but defunct, yet the PS2 still going strong, Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 is set for release on the PS2, PC and Xbox 360. This essentially marks the debut of cricket in the next generation. Since it is obvious that the majority of the resources for the game went into the development of the Xbox 360 version, we will be bringing you the full review for that version in the near future. Word is that the PS2 version is similar to its predecessor, so for the time being, we’re bringing you the PC version.

For years, EA tried and essentially failed to bring a decent cricket experience to the table, while the fun but horrendously buggy Shane Warne Cricket was only good for a rainy day. Until RPIC2005 was released, it didn’t seem possible that a development team would have the time, effort, funds or the will that was needed to create a great cricket game. All it really took was some smart, well-designed mechanics and a generally good implementation and out popped a fun and functional game. Given that the foundations were as solid as they were, it was somewhat inevitable that the follow-up wouldn’t be too different from the original. However, some changes and additions have been made; some good and others not so.

Nothing like the start of play.

Nothing like the start of play.
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There has been an extended training mode added to the game. Not only will you be introduced to the new features of batting, bowling and fielding, but you’ll also have Tony Grieg there to talk you through everything. Some may not think that it’s ideal but it gets the job done. The main issue that arises (in the PC version) is that it doesn’t clearly indicate what the controls are during the training, meaning you will have to have prior knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the control layout.

In terms of the batting, it’s identical apart from two major additions. You have new strokes added to your arsenal, as well as three more dedicated buttons to strokes - these are attacking and lofted sweeps, and when the batsmen’s confidence is full, you can play a charge-down-the-wicket-shot. The new additions fit in quite well and add to the depth of the game’s mechanics. The biggest addition is the arc that appears in the fielding graph in the bottom corner, indicating the direction of your shot that you play. Cricket 2000 tried to implement this but failed miserably due to utter mechanical failure - in 2007 this works extremely well.

However, the PC has a significant downfall when compared to the console versions. For anyone who has played the Xbox 360 demo, you will have found that the range of the batting arc is almost 360 degrees and works extremely well. This has finally paved the way for a batting mechanic that allows for a skilful batsmen to pierce the smaller gaps in the field, rather than watch so many of your shots hit a fielder. Unfortunately, the PC only allows for a traditional eight direction. It’s disappointing and somewhat limited, but the mechanics of the game still allow for the field to be pierced, depending on the batsmen’s timing.

A certain lanky English bowler's pitch circle is three times as big.

A certain lanky English bowler's pitch circle is three times as big.
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In terms of the bowling, the general mechanics are pretty much identical to previous versions. That is, you still have the same intuitive button set-up and the ability to swing the ball in flight. However, the bowling meter has been refined that you no longer have such a small window for bowling at the top speeds. This means you can play with greater variations of pace. Fielding has undergone the most changes. You can now change all your field settings on the fly and you can now throw to either the bowler’s or the wicket keeper’s end. However, the catching and throwing meters have been changed and as a result aren’t as helpful as in the previous game. They’re not as conducive to reflex reactions, making close-in catches rather difficult to hold onto.

Apart from the minor changes, the game feels rather similar. However, there have been aspects that even though they may be similar, the minor improvements are for the better. For example, the AI is more realistic. When they are behind in a chase, they’ll start to hit out more aggressively - heck, they’re much less conducive to stonewalling and actually take the easy singles, unlike in the previous game. The rest of the minor improvements are primarily mechanical that make the game feel more refined and deep. You have the option of playing with "realistic" or "balanced" stats, where realistic stats are meant to reflect the teams in reality while balanced tries to make the playing field more even. Still, some of the stats in the game aren’t exactly true reflections of the actual players ability.

Having spent hands-on time the Xbox 360 demo and debug-version, we found that a gaming pad is much more suitable for the game than a keyboard and mouse. The inputs into the keyboard - or even the mouse - were slower to respond to than on the pad. Even if you could connect the Xbox 360 controller to the PC version, you’re better off getting the Xbox 360 version.

Playability over presentation is something we'll happily get used to.

Playability over presentation is something we'll happily get used to.
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Probably the aspect of the game that is most disappointing when compared to the original is the selection of modes. While you have the ICC 2007 World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy to play through, each with licensed players and originally announced squads, the other options revolve are setting up custom Test, ODI or Twenty20 series or exhibitions. The issue with the latter options is that you play with fictitiously named players. You can make new squads and rename players but it’s a rather tedious process. On the Xbox 360 version, there is Xbox Live support for online play, but on the PC you’ve either got several players on the one screen or you can set-up up a network game. While there are various unlockables, we were very disappointed that there is no mode similar to the Classic Matches mode, or even the Double Wicket option from the previous game.

Graphically, the appearance of the game will depend on your PC specs. Towards the minimum end of the scale, the game resembles a current-gen game while on the other side, it looks closer to the 360 version. Either way, it’s not a huge leap over the predecessor. In essence, it’s more detailed and more fluid under the right conditions but for the most part, it is merely a slight upgrade over the previous game. In terms of player resemblance, this only holds for the official squads and even so the majority of them only hold a slight resemblance and the game doesn’t really account for distinguishing characteristics such as weight or beard length. However, playing with the real players gives more atmosphere than the non-real characters, which in turn is still better than previous efforts in cricket games. In terms of sound, we’re rather disappointed - the sound effects and commentary have been pretty much recycled from the previous game. It’s cleaner, more accurate and houses the talents of Jonathan Agnew, David Gower, Ian Bishop, Bill Lawry and Tony Greig but is not particularly discernable from its predecessor. It’s particularly disappointing that the commentators don’t use the real names in the World Cup and ICC Trophy.

Overall, Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 makes the necessary gameplay changes to elevate it to being better than it’s predecessor, even if a couple of the tweaks aren’t welcome. There is room for improvement but as it stands, this team is well in place to deliver in future games and it’s a lot of fun as it is. It does take an arcade approach, but it comes off quite well for a second time. However, in general, we’re a disappointed about the lack of gameplay modes available in the PC version, and disappointed that you can only play LAN multiplayer. Furthermore, the keyboard and mouse are not as proficient as a controller pad, though they are functional. If you buy one cricket game, this is the one to get but only take the PC version if that’s your only option.
The Score
Despite the familiarity, the slight improvements mean Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 is still at the top of the table. However, you should only get the PC version if you have no other choice.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
7 years ago
Sigh!! Can't anyone make a decent cricket game?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Atari
Developer:
  Codemasters
Players:
  1-4

Extra:
Minimum Specification:
Windows XP
DirectX 9.0c
Pentium III @ 1.4GHz or Athlon 1600+
256Mb RAM
Supported Graphics card
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
2x DVD-ROM Drive
4.5 Gb Hard Drive Space

Recommended Specification:
Windows XPVista
DirectX 9.0c
Pentium 4 @ 2.4GHz or Athlon XP 2400+ or above
1Gb RAM
Graphics Card: GeForce 6800 or Radeon X800 or above
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Sound Card
2x DVD-ROM Drive
4.5 Gb Hard Drive Space

LAN support

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