If anyone has the details of reviews of ICC 2 in other magazine (I know it has been reviewed in PC Format and PC Gaming World but I don't get those magazines) please send me details.
International Cricket Captain 2 (ICC2) by Empire is the sequel to last years hit game International Cricket Captain. ICC was the first commercial cricket management game and in being so had a few flaws as it had tried to anticipate what sort of game was required. Web sites such as CricketGames.com and Indigo gave fans the opportunity to list what they felt was wrong with the game. Unlike a lot of companies today Empire have listened a lot to these wishes and implented nearly all of them in this new version of the game.
The most major change is in the games interface. The whole interface has been completely redesigned using DirectX and 16 bit colour. Not only does it look a lot prettier but is far more functional and logical in its layout. e.g. in nearly all cases double clicking on a player name will display the details for the player likewise teams, etc. There are a few quirks in the interface that might take a bit of time to get used to. One such case is swapping a player when picking yout team. Previously you highlighted the 2 players and then click the swap button. The new approach is to select a player, click on the replace button and then click on the player to swap with.
The game can also be run full screen or in a Window which can be resized if you have a high enough resolution. The game also appears to run pretty well under NT 4 although Empire do not want to support this operating system if it does work fine in most cases it will be a real boon for the working cricket captain who wants to guide his team during his lunchtimes but only has NT 4 installed.
There are now 3 modes for playing the game. First up is Full Game with option to start with England captaincy or try and earn it. If you want to enter your score on the Hall of Fame website you have to earn the captaincy. The other 2 modes are new with this release. International allows you to play any of the 9 test teams and play international seasons starting with the World Cup. When you go on tour the option to play local sides as warm up games is not included it is strictly international matches. World Cup surprisingly enough allow you to play the recent World Cup on its own starting with the 3 friendlies against county sides to warm up. Unfortunately you can not elect to play one of the minnows (Bangladesh, Kenya and Scotland) which I hope will be rectified at some point. One nice touch though is whilst the game defaults to the final 15 players used in the World Cup you can alter the players. This is not just for England but all teams, even Zimbabwe has 52 players listed to select your squad from.
The full game now has more finances and transfer options available. When you first start you are given the chance to buy new players. You can also set budget allocations to Coaching, Physio and Youth Team. Coaching effects how many training sessions are availablem,Physio the fitness of your players and Youth Team the quality of players coming up the ranks. These can be between 10,000 and 50,000 defaulting to 30,000 each. Whilst bidding for players you can adjust the budget to free up cash. You now get to see rival bids and can also opt out of the bidding screen without having to complete all 10 rounds.
When picking players you can now see batting and bowling form for last 12 matches plus ratings for Match form and Coaching effect. A weather forecast for the durationof the game is now available to help selection and toss decisions. The highlights are similar to the last version but there are more animations for appeals (now includes edges), fielders dive and pull off stops or deflect the ball and coloured uniforms are used for one day games. The perspective whilst still looking slightly squashed is no where near as pronouced as before. Hover the mouse over a batsman and his preferances are displayed. Control options have been improved with the much requested options to protect a batsman from the strike and bowl around the wicket. At the end of an over you can replay the highlights for any delivery. You can also replay all the wicket taking deliveries. All these small improvement are easily selected and allow for ultimate control for people who want it. The playing of other matches seems to have been speeded up considerably and getting the computer to control your match whilst still not recommended is not as penalising as before and you can win more matches using it than previously.
I have not had the game long enough to play several seasons to see how well the game stands up to long term and whether problems like reducded batting averages over time have been fixed. I would imagine they have been but only time will tell. The game is still limited to 20 seasons of play. Features like the 2 division county championship starting in 2000 have been implemented so it is vital to finish in the top 9 in your first season.
Another major new feature this time around is 2 player hot seat mode. This allows you to play a series of matches using the test sides. Bowling control is as normal using the mouse but batting control is only possible using the keyboard. I would have preferred the mouse to work for both with keyboard control as well. It is possible for the batting side to hide their tactics but the option to protect a batsman from the strike is not available in the hot seat mode. Internet play is not currently implemented but is definitely planned for a later release in the series.
You get the impression with ICC 2 that the aim was to take what was already a pretty good product and tinker with it, adding all the user requests, beautifying the graphics and the interface whilst retaining the same game play. This has been achieved with some class. Is the game worth buying - the answer is a resounding yes. If you did not buy ICC then make sure you buy this. Even if you bought the original ICC and enjoyed it this is still a definite purchase. The number of little tweaks and improvements made to the game really add up and show the product has matured a lot in its second incarnation. The analagy has already been made elsewhere with the Championship Manager series where the second version was a huge improvement on the first.
I don't normally score my reviews but a lot of people are probably interested in what mark I would give International Cricket Captain 2.
Saturday, 16 March 2013.