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Please send me your own reviews of Cricket 2002 for the PC.

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Review by John Clifford.

I recently visited my local computer store with the intention of purchasing FIFA 2002, a game that seems to be almost non-existent in my part of the world. Upon coming to the realisation that the FIFA game was not available for purchase, I saw three copies of another EA title, Cricket 2002, perched neatly on the stand in front of me . Having been disappointed with EA cricket games in the past, I was somewhat reluctant to spend my $70 (Australian) on a product that may not be up to scratch, considering FIFA 2002 surely would have been a quality investment. But, resigned to the fact that I was not going to be able to take home exactly what I wanted, I was still not willing to go home empty handed.

To cut a long story short, I bought Cricket 2002. Then I went home. Then a few hours later I carefully opened the box, pulled out the CD, put it in my computer and completed the installation process. It looked very promising indeed, and I was ready to be surprised and impressed by the brilliance of all aspects of the game, particularly in terms of playability, for want of a better word.

I was presented with a neat, crisp introduction, followed by a simple yet attractive main menu. After playing around with the 'Options' and settings for a short while, I wanted to go straight into a five test series between Australia and... well, anyone else really, but felt obliged to spend some time in the Practice Nets. Selecting to work on my batting, I began to discover exactly how to play the particular shots, and after bypassing the opportunity to bowl, I headed for an exhibition match, 10 overs per side between Australia and New Zealand in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

When selecting my preferred XI for the Australian team, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see my favourite player, one G.S. Blewett, was not in the Australian squad. No matter though, for I can go to the player editor and make sure he is in my line up. Unfortunately, this proved more difficult than I had expected. For what is the point of having an editor when all you can change is the player's name? I had wanted to replace Colin Miller (now retired from the game) with dear Mr. Blewett, however this exercise was useless. I altered the name, but then realised that if I left things this way, Greg would be classed as an off spin bowler with a batting average of about ten. This simply would not do, so I scrapped the idea entirely.

Anyway, back to the game. Batting first after winning the toss, I struggled to get any runs. On 'Easy' level, I continually timed the ball to perfection straight to the fieldsman, occasionally managing to get one through the gap from a boundary. So, after my ten overs I finished at 8/34, five of these wickets coming as run outs due to my increasing frustration at the inability to score runs. Then it was off for two overs of bowling before the game was over. Nathan John Astle and Stephen Paul Fleming helped themselves to a total of 0/36 from 11 balls, as McGrath went for 22 off an over and Gillespie for 14 from five balls.

Okay, back to the Practice Nets for me...

After owning the game for about a week now, I have stopped playing it all together. There are so many problems that it hardly seems worth the effort and frustration. Bowling is a joke. The only way to stop the computer from scoring is to bowl yorkers over and over again, otherwise they manage about 12-16 an over in one day matches. Batting is okay, as long your favourite shots are the cut and the straight drive, because it's near impossible to play anything else. Chasing 80+ in a twenty over match is extremely difficult, as leg side shots are out of the question and balls on the stumps must be defended or you'll lose your wicket. Keeping in mind, this is on 'Easy' level. Normal mode is pretty much the same, except that it's slightly more difficult to time your cuts and drives.

The in game commentary is atrocious at best, while the fielders usually face one way and throw from their elbow in the opposite direction. There are so many small, niggling bugs that all add up to make for a VERY frustrating final product. It simply should not have been released in this state. Don't waste your money like I did, and stick to a reliable EA Sports product like FIFA.

Review by Vineet Radhakrishnan.

Total number of hours played:10-20

The game was tested on two systems.One powerful new PC and the other an average PC.

Test PC 1 Specs:
P 4 1.8 Ghz
1024 MB DDR RAM
Geforce 4 Ti4600
SB Audigy

Test PC 2 Specs:
P 3 700 MHz
128 MB Ram
Geforce2 MX
SB PCI 128

Introduction

EA Sports has for the past few years brought out its Cricket game which never seemed to even come close to its other famous sports titles. So it was not without a few lingering doubts that I unpacked the 2002 edition of the fledgling EA Cricket Franchise wondering if it would be another rushed and flawed release. Having endured Cricket World Cup and Cricket 2000 in previous years by EA programmers who had no idea of the spirit and game mechanics of Cricket I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the developers of the only good PC cricket game Brian Lara Cricket were involved in the development of Cricket 2002.

Installation

The Install is trouble-free and straight forward with an option for a full or minimum install. Frankly I did not find much difference in the game load speeds which are pretty good in either case.

Presentation

Like with all EA releases the mandatory intro montage is quite enjoyable with a nice upbeat soundtrack accompanying it. The in-game menus are quite slick yet functional. Full points here.

All graphical adjustments are made in-game itself. The controls can be mapped to either keyboard or a joystick/pad. The default control keys are sensibly mapped out and fortunately the run and canned sequence skip are mapped to different keys. I hated it when I suddenly found myself runout as my batsman made a break for it every time I pressed the skip button too early.

There are options to choose the difficulty, weather, etc but I could have done with a few more game options such as ability to explicitly choose a night game and on/off toggles for various rules like the LBW, no balls, wides which would give the player the ability to choose between an arcade slugfest or a more faithful simulation.

Graphics and Sound

The maximum graphics resolution supported is 1280x1024 and along with antialiasing and trilinear filtering enabled the game looks quite beautiful. The stadiums are well modelled though as with most games the spectators could be better. The actual pitch conditions are also graphically well represented.

The player models are quite poor and crude. Not all players are instantly recognisable like the superb models in FIFA 2002 or NHL 2002 but EA has managed to model most famous players quite accurately though they are frankly quite ugly when compared to the previous mentioned games.EA has skimped on the lesser known players using generic face models. There are also quite a few inaccuracies in the player faces most notably the Turbanator Harbhajan Singh who shockingly looks nothing like the real thing and is missing his famed turban!

The textures used could also do with some more detail and richness. The pitch also does not show any sign of wear or cracks developing as the game progresses which would have been an impressive touch. The batsmen are well modelled and the strokes look quite authentic but again it would have been good to have certain players come in wearing a cap or no head gear as in real life to inject some individuality. The bowlers runup and bowling action are not well captured however and the fast bowlers look awkward and ungainly instead of like the well oiled destroyers that they really are. The spinners are also not really impressive. The stock animation after getting a batsman out gets boring after some time. Some more variation in the canned sequences are desperately needed. The default camera views are quite good and can be changed to equally acceptable alternatives. The replay options are also ample but I would have loved a button to bring up replays with a ingle press instead of using the menu every time.

Lack of individuality is the one big drawback in gameplay. In cricket as with all games most teams have a few phenomenal players who can single handedly change the course of a game. Never was any such individual prowess brought out during gameplay. This diminishes interest in the game to some degree as it introduces a certain uniformity. The fielding animations are also quite poor. The running looks almost hilarious at times but the dives and catches are well animated. Also some more emotion shown by the players would have been very welcome for close misses and critical breakthroughs interspersed with maybe some speech in their respective language. The wicket keepers are strangely quiet unlike real life when they keep shouting out encouragement to their bowlers. The biggest flop is there seems to be only one umpire for all matches. In over 20 matches the same umpire is officiating! Methinks some match fixing is afoot..

On the positive side the third umpire is included as are LBW replays which show the line of the ball. Wagon wheels, spirals, worm graphs are all present but have to be accessed manually. It would have been great if they showed up from time to time during the course of the match just like on TV. The commentary is just sufficient and has no frills. Reminds me of the staid old BBC commentary of years gone by. Benaud's comments are too literal and robotic at times. A personal comment here and there or a word of encouragement or insult when a batsman gets out would have improved the game tremendously. The crowd seems quite happy but keep cheering wildly even when absolutely nothing is happening. I also encountered a few glitches in the sound where the pitch report would stop abruptly at the start of a game. The sound is average and offers nothing really new. Not even close to EA's own normally unreproachable standards.

Gameplay

Where EA redeems itself is in the gameplay. Despite the various flaws elsewhere in the game Cricket 2002 is actually real fun to play. Batting is superbly executed. The various shots can be chosen at will and timing really does play a crucial role as in real life. The various difficulty levels are reasonably well spaced out. The AI is good but can be improved still especially the automatic fielding. The power button is a welcome addition to the normal strokes and provide for some exciting gameplay. The running between the wickets is also more than tolerable. It feels really good to hear the meaty thwack as you bludgeon the ball into the stands or flick the ball for a delicate leg glance and watch it speed to the ropes. The bowling is not as intuitive as batting but is still quite enjoyable once you get the hang of it. Like almost all cricket games you still have to rely on the CPU to make a mistake to get a wicket but the variations possible are impressive. The manual fielding is a bit cumbersome and needs to be refined further before it becomes a viable option. When the game really comes into its own is when you play with a human opponent. Careless runouts, stump shattering deliveries and stellar batting kept us on the edge of our seats for quite a few hours. The thrill of hitting the winning run of the last ball - now that's what I call excitement.

There are also extras like a player editor but it is minimal and you cant really do much except change the names-no creating new players from scratch. There are a wide variety of tournaments such as the World Cup, Sharjah triangulars, ODIs, test series and also plenty of All star teams to unlock. However a schedule of tests and ODIs enabling you to play out an entire season for each team is sorely lacking.

A stickler could ask for more gameplay features but one must recognise that Cricket 2002 is a work in development and does not have the years of evolution enjoyed by other EA games and if they build on this gameplay Cricket 2002 has all the makings of a truly enjoyable experience.

Conclusion

Cricket 2002 is a solid start by EA in a field that is alien to them and has limited popularity in the traditional markets of The US and most of Europe. EA Cricket seems to be finally rounding the corner to becoming a really good game. The programmers have made a genuine effort to create a faithful simulation of the sport. Graphics are excellent in places and terribly wrong in others. The motion capture for Cricket 2002 is simply atrocious. The players waddle around like overweight penguins. It indeed hurts to see athletic bowlers like Bret Lee, Shoiab, McGrath, etc look like a portly Andy Flintoff as they run up to bowl. The sound needs an overhaul to inject a bit of excitement to the game. The game is bogged down by many minor bugs and flaws and a few major ones that EA would do well to address immediately by bringing out a patch. However fortunately the game shines in the most important part of any game-the gameplay. Cricket 2002 is a promising beginning that seeks to fill the void for rabid cricket fans who have been starved of a good cricket game and shows occasional glimpses of its potential but has yet to mature and evolve before it can aspire to reach the legendary status of other EA franchises.

Final Rating

Graphics: 70%
Sound:55%
Gameplay:89%

Revised: Saturday, 16 March 2013.
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