Review by CHIP magazine (Indian editon) 4 stars out of 5.
I could not wait until the review copy sent by EA arrived and bought the game when I saw it in my local games store. Installation was quite slick with Richie Benaud and David Gower discussing the previous World Cups as the files were being copied. For some strange reason though no mention was made of the 1996 World Cup and Sri Lanka's victory. The game had only installed 35% at this stage so there was no reason for it to not be mentioned. The recommended install took 220Mb and copied 5000+ files!
On start-up of the program after the obligatory EA Sports sequence you get a typical slick brash intro that mixes rendered graphics and some 'enhanced' in game scenes. The menus are fairly standard and generally look pretty. Some options are in strange places - you can only change the graphics and sound option when you elect to play a game. If you go straight for the demo you get the default options. I decided to watch a demo to get some idea of the graphics. The demo chooses two teams at random. The demo is played with no commentary at all and just normal sound effects. On my PII 400 with 8 Mb Voodoo 2 card the graphics looked very crisp and the animations were very smooth. On the blimp camera view (called wide camera in the game) though there was a problem with textures not properly stitching together. This kind of problem you would only expect in Playstation games or software mode and not with what is effectively one of the best graphics set-ups currently available. The white markers representing the fielding restrictions were not all visible either.
Altering the graphics from the default 640x480x16 to any other resolutions has a serious side effect of ruining all the menus and in some cases making them practically unreadable. It seems for some inexplicable reason all the textures and even text for the menus are defined for 640x480 and altering the resolution causes them to be stretched or squashed. Thus changing to a higher resolution actually makes the menus and text far worse! I would recomend only ever running the game at 640x480 resolution.
When you decide you want to play a proper game you have 4 options: One Day International, World Cup Competition, World Cup Super Six and Training mode. If you elect to play a One Day game you can set up the teams, ground, weather and number of overs per innings (this is a slider and actually very hard to adjust one over at a time - trying to set it to 50 took far longer than it should). Difficulty can be set by adjusting another slider from very easy to very hard. It defaults to the mid setting. You can also elect to remove the circle showing the pitch of the ball and the delivery type to make it harder.
You can alter the players in your teams but the players listed are not the final 15 competing in the World Cup. For starters you have 20 players per squad. England include several players not selected like the Hollioake brothers (maybe they had to be included as they provided the motion capture sequences) and players like Fairbrother and Mullally are missing. Hopefully the promised feature of being able to download updated teams and results will fix this but currently this is not mentioned anywhere on the EA site. Looking at a players stats is weird as it shows most appearances, runs, wickets, etc. with Tests or 1-Day after it so you end up with some players listing most appearances as 1-Days but most runs as Test! Also the skill levels assigned considering this is a 1 Day only game are incorrect. Michael Bevan is a very poorly rated batsman compared to the rest of the Aussies and yet in real life he has the best batting average of major batsman by 15!
After all the setting up it was down to the game proper. You call for the toss but it is not very clear whether you have won or not. It does not seem that every time you win you actually get offered the option of batting or bowling first.
To their credit EA have done a very good job with the bowling and made it far more fun and controllable than any other cricket game. The recommended control method is actually the mouse and this does work very well. You have total control of the pitch and pace of the delivery plus you can also impart as much or as little swing/spin, seam and cut on the ball as you want to. You even have a kind of after touch option where after bowling you can cause it to be a slow delivery or a faster effort delivery. When adding swing/spin etc. there is a little swingometer like golf games which represents the accuracy of the delivery you are attempting. This also takes a players skill in to account. I actually took a wicket clean bowled with my very first delivery but was soon struggling as the computer hit me for 4's and 6's at will mostly straight or pulled. The computer batsmen do seem to adjust to your style. If you bowl the same delivery repeatedly they soon adjust and start smashing it.
It is possible to let the computer bowl for you. This can be for the whole innings, one over or even until certain criteria are met like runs score, run rate etc. The computer does seem to score quite quickly but lose a lot of wickets. I have yet to see a generated innings go beyond 18 overs. The scoreboard ticks over the computer deliveries and is quite slow. An instant option like that present in Brian Lara Cricket would have been nice.
With batting EA have again tried to come up with a different control method. You can move the batsman around his crease and charge the bowler if wanted. There are 3 types of shot defensive, normal and the 'power' shot which is high risk. You control the shot by moving your batsman accordingly and adjusting a cone which represents the direction you want to try and hit the ball. In reality this means rather than the normal method of pressing the direction you want to hit the ball as you press the shot button you now move this cone (which is quite fiddily) instead and just press the shot button on its own. A novel idea but not that brilliant or different once you start using it. I would have much preferred a total mouse swing style shot similar to recent golf games.
To run you press a button and the batsman start jogging - taping the same button causes them to speed up and it is also possible to change your mind (far quicker than in Brian Lara Cricket). One thing to be aware of is when batting if you advance down the pitch your player will not automatically try and regain his ground so you have to make him to avoid being run out. All fielding is automatic. Like previous EA cricket games the fielders are fairly deadly at hitting the stumps and always appeal! The game seems to go into some strange slow motion mode when a run out chance is possible. Any time you get hit on the pads the computer appeals even if you are two feet outside leg stump!
At any time you can see batting and bowling stats, partnerships stats and graphs plus batting and bowling diagrams that show the pitch and bounce of every shot/delivery. These can also be adjusted to show all players or just individual players. You can also alter the camera to any one of 12 angles although most of them are unsuitable for controlling the game!
There are some serious flaws in the game, the lack of left handers was made public before the game was released, the reliance on running at 640x480 resolution and poor texture stitching have ready been mentioned. Another serious flaw is that on several occasions I have run 1, 2, or 3 runs and it has not been added to the score at all! The game is also just based around One Day Internationals and more specifically the World Cup. There are no other tournaments and no Test matches. This no doubt will be in the ICC Cricket game that EA are planning to release later this year.
The overall feel is that despite two high profile cricket games appearing this year we are still waiting for a decent arcade style cricket game. EA Cricket World Cup looks a little rushed and is obviously trying to cash in on the tournament as it happens. Personally I would have rather waited and had options like left handers, Test matches, etc. What is needed is a cricket game written by cricket fans for cricket fans.
Overall I would probably just about recommend the game - there have been reports it runs slow on some machines. Unless truly desperate wait until the demo is released and then try that before buying. Maybe it is cynical to question why a demo was not released before or at the same as the full release.
This review was written after I had played the game for only one day. When I have had a bit more time to play it I may update this review or write a second one.
I don't normally score my reviews but a lot of people are probably interested in what mark I would give Cricket World Cup 99.
Saturday, 16 March 2013.