Given the raging success that the resurgent International Cricket Captain has been enjoying over the past twelve months or so, it’s not surprising to see Focus Multimedia poke their head above the parapet with a cricket management title too. Our only surprise is that the field is currently still quite thin, with EA Sports’ cricket title completing the collection for the armchair willow fan.
Focus Multimedia’s take is arguably the most primitive of them all, in that it’s a management game that lacks any real visual flourish. The most action you’ll see is equivalent to some dots moving around a highlights screen whenever there’s a boundary or chance of a wicket.
Still, graphics have hardly won the Football Manager franchise the success it’s enjoyed, so let’s take a closer look at the management game itself. You pick your county of choice to manage, and immediately find yourself immersed in sorting out contracts and transfers to get a good squad in shape for the forthcoming season.
You have an assistant throughout the game who can take such tasks off you, but that seems a bit beside the point to us. Once you’re happy that you’ve got your playing staff sorted, you’re set a seasonal expectation – avoid relegation, win things, that kind of stuff – and off you go.
Up until this point, the game’s been basic, inoffensive, but hardly compelling. And that pretty much sums up the rest of it too. As you traipse through a season, you deal with internationals, with injuries and with fluctuations of form, constantly under pressure to get the right balance in your team.
Sadly, all this build up – handled via effective if plain menus – is let down by the primitive match system. The visual highlights are shamed by those of International Cricket Captain 2006 (to be reviewed on this site in the near future), and worse, serve little interest at all. Eventually, we simply had to switch them off.
Tactically, it’s fairly easy to get battered off the park if you’re not careful, and there’s only so much you can control (the levels of aggression with which your batsman or bowler will play, for example). In fact, it rarely feels like you have much influence at all, short of picking the team and playing with a couple of sliders.
Given the low asking price, it’s perhaps a little unfair to come down hard on Marcus Trescothick Cricket Coach. But the blatant truth is that it’s not a particularly good game, and it’s outclassed by some distance by its main competitor, International Cricket Captain 2006 (a game not without problems itself). And while that game costs an extra tenner, for the sports strategy fan it’ll be money better spent.
Company: Focus Multimedia