Review by CricketGames.com.
Review by Guy.
International Cricket Cricket (or ICC for short) by Empire is a major first for a commercial cricket game. Rather than go for the typical arcade fare they have opted for a management style game somewhat akin to the classic Championship Manager. This is a rather bold move but one that hopefully has paid off and will pave the way for future cricket management games by Empire and others.
Having worked in the games industry for 3 years and tried desperately from within to create a cricket management game only to be told it would never sell I take my hat off to Chris Child the creator in persevering to get the game commercially developed. Chris developed the run scoring engine for the game as a University project (lucky him mine was a Windows interface to a aged Dos database yawn!). A big hand also goes to Brian Walker who tried to persuade his old employers Domark to market the game. Brian who was the producer of Championship Manager 2 later moved to Empire where he had more luck.
I was actually interviewed by Brian and Chris for the role of a programmer on ICC. This for me could have been the ideal job. Unfortunately despite being offered the job in the end I had to turn it down as Empire was a 20 minute walk, train, 2 tubes and a bus to get to. This journey took a minimum of 2 hours to do. Also I would have had to give up my existing program International Test Cricket which I didn't want to do as that has been my cricket project for longer than ICC has been Chris's.
ICC is certainly a product I would have been proud to have worked on. It is the game cricket purists have been wanting for years. There is absolutely no keyboard bashing bowling or simplistic batting controls. ICC boasts some impressive graphics but they are used to show you the action not to dictate it. What you do instead is captain your side selected from any of the 18 county teams (Australian and South African releases are planned soon) and try and mould them in to a all conquering side in the County Championship, Nat West Cup, Sunday League and League Cup (Benson & Hedges). Do really well and you will be offered the job of taking charge of England against the other test playing nations. Captain is possibly a poor choice of word as you are much more of a manager, a captain would normally play in the side. This has already been the cause of a terribly unjust review in PC Zone who seemed more picky with the title of the game than the quality of the game.
You take charge of your side by training players (you can't train everyone so you have to prioritise), picking the side whilst dealing with injuries or international call ups, deciding the match tactics and then at the end of season negotiating contract renewals and signing new players. Sounds simple but hides a wealth of engrossing gameplay. Make no bones about it ICC is hard. You are not going to win everything in your 1st season or develop one strategy that wins you every match.
Playing a match in ICC take a lot of time. A county championship match will take about an hour to play. You can if you wish elect for Auto-Play and generate an instant result. If you elect to play the match there is the expected conditions report which may influence your decision of what to do if you win the toss. You can control the animated graphics which are generally of a high quality to be every ball, selectable highlights or turn them off totally. When batting you control the aggression levels. Raise them too high and players will quickly get dismissed, too low and runs come at a crawl. Bowling you have more options. You have a similar aggression level plus line of attack (off, middle or leg stump) and fielding settings (you can use predefined or create your own which can be saved). You also have to rotate your bowlers to stop them getting too tired. It is very hard to dismiss a side and you have to continually adjust your tactics to try and achieve a break through. Different tactics for 4 day and 1 day games are also required.
Statistics have always been a very important part of cricket. Here ICC both excels and is sadly lacking. Players are rated using their career averages for accuracy but wicket keepers are not rated in any way! Stats of a match are excellent with complete wagon wheel and worm graphs available but for career records only averages are stored.
In the long term ICC offers quite a challenge. You are rated for each season's performance and at the end of 20 years you can post a score on the hall of fame. There is also an online hall of fame sponsored by Cornhill to allow you to compare your scores against everyone else. Empire have provided better support than most companies releasing several patches and running an excellent forum for ICC on their site. There is a lot in the game not covered in this review but the bottom line is this is a game I recommend for all cricket fans.
For a first attempt at a cricket management game International Cricket Captain is a very creditable effort. Hopefully now the product or others like it can develop and evolve the genre to the level of football management games. A sequel is already planned.
I have not provided ratings for this review as they can be very subjective. If you want to, send me your own review of ICC (with ratings if you want) and I will add it so people can see more than one opinion. All reviews will be credited and you could win a prize.
Saturday, 16 March 2013.