The following review appeared in the December 1998 issue of Computer & Video Games.
Stroke googlies through the covers, glance balls down fine leg and hit bouncers for six in Bran Lara's third video game outing.
Being someone who can watch test cricket non stop for an entire five days, I'd expect to enjoy every cricket game ever made. Thing is, the only ones that have ever got the right balance of realism and entertainment are Codemasters' Brian Lara games. This is a dream come true for cricket fans, with loads of accurate models of famous grounds, real players, a decent commentary from Geoff Boycott and Jonathan Agnew, varying pitch conditions, loads of possible balls and shots, plus plenty of different play modes. Even non-cricket fans will enjoy slogging the ball around in a limited over match because it's so simple to play. The graphics are great, though the 3D models wobble about and occasionally look really freaky. Some great touches such as slow motion replays for third umpire decisions and some cool little animations add to the realism. Essential for fans of the sport, and a cracking multi-player alternative to the myriad PlayStation football games
The best cricket video game ever, and a whole load of fun for everyone. A bit fiddly in places but still a real corker! It's four all the way!
Brian Lara Cricket. Just in time for the end of the cricket season, along comes something to keep budding Bothams happy for the winter.
Tradition is a great part of cricket. Stewed tea and cucumber sandwiches, small boys in the park, Geoffrey bleedin' Boycott hanging around too long at either wicket or microphone. You know the sort of thing.
So it's rather charming to discover that the game bears certain similarities to the only other decent cricket game in the history of videogames. World Class Cricket, latterly known as Graham Gooch World Class Cricket and Brian Lara Cricket. A quick phonecall to Codemasters and the mystery is solved: the producer of this game was formerly a developer on the others.
It's probably a good thing too, as what we have here benefits from those years of experience. There's a quality of gameplay in Brian Lara that's unmistakable, like the accumulated layers of flavour that occur in a mature bottle of port, rich and reassuring.
The game is sometimes limited though. No option to shuffle up the wicket and take on a spin bowler, for example, the batsman is locked to his crease, something that's deplored in real life. And you'll be more than mildly irritated by your bowler hurling himself out of the way of obvious caught and bowleds, only to redeem himself by catching ones that appeared to be well beyond his grasp. But these are small-fry complaints, niggles that could well become as comfortable over time as the notch in the handle of your cricket bat that at first irritated and distracted you, but whose reassuring feel you would now miss. In short they grew on you.
And the game has so much to offer the cricket enthusiast. A simple system enables you to control bowlers, batsmen and fielders with an ease that soon becomes fluid. Within minutes you'll be launching bouncers at Brian Lara himself or sliding along the ground to deny Alec Stewart a boundary.
You can now opt to play any kind of international game you like, from five-over-a-side knockabout to a full blown five-day test match via a World Cup series. 12 teams are represented, each packed with all the modern stars of cricket. There are also a few hidden features that, once discovered, will enable you to play great matches of the past or stuff your team with cricketing legends and superstars.
The pace of the game is pretty slow for a sports sim, this is no all-out arcade version of cricket (if indeed such a thing is possible) but a thoughtful gentle representation of the game. There are plenty of scene-setting moments too. The captains come out on the pitch for the toss, the umpires lead the teams out, the game even has weather and yes, you can end up sitting in the virtual pavilion watching virtual rain. if you play a test match and you get no interrupting weather however one of the game's potential flaws does show: the game attempts to keep you engaged by having plenty of action, which does mean that almost any test will be over by the end of day three as a rapid succession of sixes and wickets keep the tempo up. This is probably no bad thing but is obviously a little inaccurate.
Commentary comes from Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott - whose gravely Yorkshire vowels add real authenticity to the game. In fact it all feels so slick that at times you could be watching the telly.
(There were 14 screenshots in the review with the following captions)
One of the things that makes Brian Lara so convincingly realistic is the stuff the players get up to in-between balls. Bowlers stare at batsmen, batsman jog up and down and rehearse shots, fieldsmen stretch and limber up.
Batting is a simple matter of pressing a button and moving the D-pad simultaneously to choose a shot. The secret's in the timing. And away she goes racing to the boundary.
That's how to bowl a bouncer. Bang it in short. Different styles of bowler (fast, swing and spin) have different balls to bowl, which they do after you've chosen where to pitch the ball.
Fielding can be manual or automatic, depending on your level of patience. We prefer automatic to be frank.
TEST MATCH SPECIAL!
AT LAST! CRICKET GETS A FAIR VIDEOGAMING INNINGS
Brian Lara Cricket
West Indies captain Brian Lara returns from years stuck in Mega Drive ignominy to start in Playstation's first cricket game.
Ten minutes into Brian Lara Cricket, and Geoffrey Boycott and Jonathan Agnew start chatting. Not in an "And. Australia. Are. About. To. Bat." kind of way. No theirs is a conversation. They talk about pitches, about batsmen. They even talk about the weather. And it's right there and then that the class of Codemasters' sequel to the Mega Drive hit becomes clear.
The Playstation, hardly well known for its tranquil games, has never before seen the like of BLC. Sure, it's one for lazing on a Sunday afternoon, but the game feels so good to play you don't mind whiling the hours away. Funnily enough, it's when you lose concentration and spoon the ball into the slips that it becomes the most enjoyable. It goes without saying that the players move smoothly, and the whole thing looks good, but the knowledge that you were caught because you got the split second timing wrong just about sums up BLC. It's realistic alright.
Mostly Brian Lara Cricket is an enjoyable afternoon (not) spent at the park. The fielding is depressingly difficult - much better to let the computer do the donkey work for you - but again, a close run-out decision adds to the fun.
Batting is very much easier than bowling, however. How Alec Stewart must wish he could see where the ball was going to pitch before it left Shane Warne's magic fingertips - in BLC being a bowler means moving an all-too-apparent circle up and down the pitch, taking some of the surprise out of the whole affair. Nevertheless, with enough statistics, players and teams to make John Madden himself blush, BLC is wonderfully well executed. It should sell - well, a few copies, at least - simply because fans have been so starved of cricket games they'll lap up whatever they can get. But more of us should give it a chance. In fact, even the most devoted Final Fantasy fan should find there's much to enjoy here.
**** (out of 5) Ben East
Uppers and Downers
SHANE WARNE CRICKET 99 - PLAYSTATION
In the middle of hammering out this review, I enjoyed watching a great one-day match between England and Australia. What was even better was I didn't have to wait until the next match in the series to see a bit of the old stickywicket on my TV screen.
Instead I simply boot up the superb Shane Warne Cricket 99 on the Playstation and it's all there in digital domain. Shane Warne Cricket 99 is a solid cricket game, developed by the same chaps who brought us Colin McRae Rally (Codemasters). It's obvious these guys love their sport.
Batting in the game is easy and you have a huge range of strokes to choose from. Not only can you angle the bat so the ball goes anywhere around the oval, you can even duck or use your pads if you need to be defensive.
Similarly, there is a great degree of flexibility when bowling, as you can adjust line and length as you send your man in to hurl one down. That said, the bowling interface is harder to get the hang of and once you combine this with fielding, you have a real challenge on your hands. Thankfully, you can get the computer to handle the fielding until you feel ready.
Warne 99 also lets you choose from a huge range of match options. There are nine world-class teams at your disposal and the game even lets you recreate historical games if you feel like relieving some great cricket moments.
Warne 99 is not exiting graphically, but the motion-captured visuals are adequate.
The sound is also nothing to write home about and the English commentators (Geoff Boycott and Jonathan Agnew) are a lot less excitable than Richie Benaud's troupe, even though they get the job done.
The game is a ripper in two-player one-day mode, as at times the computer does bowl rather stupidly when you are playing the game yourself. Also, the batsmen's running between the wickets can be dodgy at times.
On the whole, however, Warne 99 is a polished effort that will greatly please cricket fans.
Overall - 8/10
Saturday, 16 March 2013.