The country has been in a cricket frenzy recently with the Ashes not long having been on and England retaining them in some fashion (credit to the Australian women’s side though who managed to beat England’s women). With that win for the men’s team, interest has spiked in the sport and there are people all over the UK getting more involved with cricket, whether it be by partaking in the sport physically or electronically (or both). However, you don’t tend to see many cricket computer games making the top charts; I think the most popular cricket game of my time has probably been the Brian Lara Cricket series, in fact I can’t really name another at all. That’s all changed though thanks to the people at Childish Things Ltd who have released Cricket Captain 2015, a cricket simulation game.
They’ve been developing the Cricket Captain game series for a few years now, going way back to 2010. However, it wasn’t until this year I had actually heard of it, so in terms of how it has improved on past games I won’t have a clue really but I can compare it to the cricket games of old that I used to play. Cricket Captain takes a more tactical approach to the game than Brian Lara Cricket did, you won’t find yourself running after balls to catch out the opposition or swinging the Bat to grab yourself a 6 pointer as you clear the perimetre. Instead you take a more tactical approach to the game kind of like Football Manager, and it all starts out by selecting your team; since I went to the University of Glamorgan it only felt right that I pick Glamorgan as my County team.
Next you enter negotiations for making new signings before your season starts. Now because I probably went what seemed the worst County team on the game I ended up with a tiny wage budget compared to my competition, but you can pick up some decent youngsters rather cheaply. I went for the silly method though of making a record bid of A.Flintoff (they don’t have licences for the full names and images), he was getting on in the game but if he’s anything like the real one he’ll get the job done. With the remaining pennies I had left I picked up what looked like a decent young bowler because frankly, I didn’t have much on the pitch to get me excited about. Now the way signing players works is like a bidding process, if you’re the only one in for a player and they want to join you it’s no issue, but for Flintoff I faced stiff competition from a number of clubs. You have 10 weeks open for negotiations to get everyone you want and after a few smaller bids, eventually I got tired of trying to be money savvy and just blew everyone out of the water in week 3 with a bid which was enough to get me my man.
After getting your team together it’s time to get into the action and play some Cricket; it works much like a real season so you’ll have a couple of warm up games before getting into division games. Now you can select to play Test Cricket or T20 for instance, or both if you want to put your team to the full test and it will follow the season throughout the year. Don’t fancy playing in the County division stuff? You can go captain an International side or teams from India and Australia as well as a few more. Once into an actual game you’ll be asked to pick Heads or Tails to decide whether to bat or field first, on my first time I lost the toss and was made to field. The screen shows a tactical layout of the match on the right with latest scores on the left.
For bowling your fielders will set themselves up based on how you choose to bowl which is quite impressive in terms of customisability; you’ll be able to set whether to have your bowler run from the right or left, you can then select where about before the stumps you want the ball to land before it bounces, and finally you select how aggressively you want to bowl. Remember that if you go too aggressively then you can over throw a ball, but throw too softly then you will see your opponent racking up more runs. You’ll then be able to decide whether you want to stick with your tactic and take it to the end of the over (makes for a faster game), or you can change it up ball by ball and take each one as it comes (this can seriously drag out a match). As for attacking the ball it’s a similar set up with choosing how aggressively or defensively that you want to play, be careful though you don’t want to go all gung ho and get caught out for a duck.
Now the good thing about the gameplay which livens things up from just staring at a screen with numbers and tactics is that if a player does score a 4 or 6, or if you bowl someone out, then it skips to an animation of the event happening. Still other than this it isn’t like football manager where you can watch the whole game, it’s almost like a text based adventure in that most of your time is spent making choices and looking at the screen to read what happened. In that aspect the game wasn’t that fun, however for actual cricket fans and probably a few sports fans in general it will be an interesting take on a game where you usually control the player.
In terms of graphics Cricket Captain 2015 isn’t anything special; there are no licences held by Childish Things so you aren’t going to be seeing players faces and you aren’t going to see team badges. Luckily though as each team in England is named after a County they don’t really have to dish out for licences because there is no law (that I know of) where you can’t use the name of a county because I’m pretty sure it isn’t copyrighted. Therefore without all the need for official images, Childish Things have been able to do what they want in terms of design which is very basic because it is mainly based on buttons, tables and text, the only exception being the animations. Despite animations being a welcome break though from the same old boring bland screens, they aren’t of the highest 4k quality or done in fine detail, they just offer enough to make it better than what you’re used to staring at.
Overall this is a nice game; for me it’s not as fun as the old games I used to play where you actually got to be a player, bowling balls and swinging bats, but it’s definitely got potential. I think if there was a mode that operated more like football manager where you could set tactics in advance and watch the games take place (at accelerated speeds of course) then it would make for a more enjoyable game. You don’t have to get rid of in-game tactics, just operate it in a way where you can make live changes or pause to shake things up a little. The graphics could do with a little work as well; maybe make things a bit more colourful and interesting to look at (background animations maybe?). But the main area I would recommend improvements is getting licences, it can be costly (yes even in Cricket) but it probably would draw in more fans having an official game. Cricket Captain 2015 is definitely worth noticing if you’re a cricket or a general sports game fan really.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.