Reviewed and available exclusively on PC
I’m actually a bit of a long standing fan of cricket games, which I suppose is because I grew up playing the sport, and still love it.
Having said that, I’m the first to admit that it’s a sport which, due to its nature, does not translate well in videogames. Many of the finer details of the game are lost, and it is reduced to a basic matter of timing and shot placement. You lose some of the greatest things that cricket has to offer, such as the feeling of a ball being sweetly driven, or taking a good reflex catch in the slips.
Still, there have been numerous video games based on the sport released to date, some loads of fun, and some absolute failures (I’m looking at you Ashes Cricket 09). EA was the long time holder of the rights to using actual player names, while Codemasters has also kept its own line of cricket games running, including my personal favourite, Brian Lara International Cricket 2007.
One might argue that the best cricket games have been those focusing on the management aspect of the sport, such as the International Cricker Manager series, which continues to be a hit with cricket enthusiasts, allowing players to manage an English county cricket team, and work their way up to national level.
Cricket Power is very much in the same vein as more action orientated cricket games. It’s a new direction for cricket games, being available exclusively for PC as a sort of browser hybrid game. I say hybrid, because it is not a simple browser game. It requires an installation, uses a neat 3D engine, and it costs money.
The game is available over on cricketpower.com, and costs $10 (R70). Once you have created an account, and paid for the game using a variety of online payment methods, you are given install files to download, which come to just under 100MB.
You then install the game, and are able to play it by clicking on the desktop shortcut. Unlike normal PC games, the shortcut directs you to a website – cricketpower.com, where you can login and play the game in your browser. You are required to be online to play Cricket Power.
There are very few options in terms of gameplay. This is the official ICC World Cup 2011 game, and that’s the only form of the game you are allowed to play (bar net practice). When you start you are asked to choose a team, and from there your World Cup campaign begins.
The game’s visuals are actually surprisingly sharp for a browser game, although this can be put down to the aforementioned “advanced 3D browser plugin”. The field and players are rendered in 3D, and we are reminded of one of EA’s later generation PS2 cricket titles.
It’s also nice to have actual player names back, after the last few cricket titles coming from Codemasters sans licensing. No longer opening the batting are Gorhan Smyth and Arbi Devrielers. Individual players also have basic skill levels and attributes, although these are very limited. Still, there is a very noticeable difference when batting with Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, which is important for cricket games as you are encouraged to bat sensibly and hold on to your best batsmen.
I was pleasantly surprised with the polish in the batting department. Animations are fluid, and the control scheme is as good, if not better, than any AAA cricket title that has come before. Players become settled as they spend time at the crease, which makes them easier to use effectively. As expected, shot selection and timing are the two most important things to get right. The timing system feels solid, and there is a great variety of shots to chose from, depending on the bowler’s line and length.
Bowling is not as much fun as batting, but then they do say that cricket today is a batsman’s game. It can be frustratingly difficult to control quality batsmen that get on a role, although due to this, taking wickets is remarkably satisfying. There are various basic strategies one can employ, such as luring players into playing aggressive shots in certain areas and hoping to get them caught, or dropping in occasional bouncers in an attempt to rattle batsmen before bowling a Yorker with the following ball.
Bowlers can control swing, seam and spin, and they accumulate ‘adrenaline’ for things like dot balls, taking wickets, or body shots on the batsmen. When the adrenaline meter is full, you can execute special deliveries, which can catch batsmen off guard.
For what it is, Power Cricket is probably one of the most enjoyable cricket games released over the past few years, and the beauty is that it will run on any PC with an internet connection, and costs just R70.
World Cup matches are shortened to 20 over affairs, because no one wants to spend an entire day playing a single match, and there is a neat ongoing online league, complete with leaderboards. You can try out the net practice for free to get a feel for Cricket Power yourself, but I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a cricket game.