Cricket? The thwack of leather on willow, Matron? That most noble of English games that wanders on for days on end? The one at which we’re not really very good? Seems like an odd sport to make into a computer game – after all nothing really happens. Except that’s not really the case. Cricket has become a little more interesting in recent times. True, we’re still not very good at it, but at least the games tend to be faster and more entertaining now, as the other teams bowl us out that much quicker.
So enter Brian Lara, record run-maker, in a game that features over 240 international players from various test and non-test nations around the globe. Lara’s the only one who’s officially endorsed the game, but the statistics for the other players are there anyway, including England’s full squad. These are motion-captured players, too, so they run around quite realistically. Just in case you can’t make out what they’re doing at any given time, the commentary from Geoff Boycott will confuse you even further. Jonathan Agnew’s there too, adding some semblance of sense to the proceedings.
Played not on the village green but in huge stadia that require the might of a 3D graphics accelerator to appear in their full glory, Brian Lara Cricket is something of a revelation. It uses a similar control system to that used to good effect in many football computer games. In short, the computer does a lot of the dull work – like making sure that your players are in the right place at the right time – while you handle the skill bits like batting and bowling, thus claiming all the glory for yourself.
With a host of extra features that includes classic matches, 46 stadia, the ability to punt wildly for a six à la Botham and the choice of matches ranging from ten overs to a 5-day test, there’s plenty of versatility in Brian Lara Cricket. It’s been out for a few months on the PlayStation, but the conversion to PC format was well worth the wait.