After a notable absence, Codemasters returned with a cricket game in 2005, endorsed by Ricky Ponting. Nearly 2 years on Codemasters has now presented Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 available on PS2, PC and next-gen Xbox 360. With the cricketing world currently having its focus on the Caribbean, there is no more perfect a time to release a cricket game.
With Codemasters putting too much of the original formula from the previous entry in the series, many fans are wondering what is new for ’07. Codemasters has stepped up to the challenge presenting an official ICC Cricket World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy licence, along with tweaks to the game play and a new, wider variety of shots.
Game modes are fairly stock-standard, and remain virtually untouched from ’05. The new entries to the bunch are the Cricket World Cup 2007 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2005. Both of these options use all real player names and statistics, unlike the custom games that use fake names - Adam Gilchurch anyone? Cricket bats are also registered which is a nice touch.
A key aspect that is missing from Ricky Ponting 2005 is the ability to create a player, and then follow him through, improving his skills and keeping record of his statistics. This was certainly an enjoyable feature and is sorely missed.
The 3 main aspects of cricket are all integrated into the game play. Batting is by far the most enjoyable of these. Codemasters has implemented a new 360 degree batting control, giving players full control in placing their shots. The other new features added to the batting side of things are sweep shots and advance shots. Sweep shots are useful but extremely unrealistic, with players being able to sweep straight back over the bowler’s head!
Batting is extremely easy thanks to the stupid AI, even on the hardest difficulty, with even the most novice of players having little challenge dispatching the bowler for boundary after boundary.
Bowling is almost identical of that seen in Ricky Ponting 2005, pressing X to start your run-up, and then the range of deliveries assigned to the face buttons. Swing is controlled using the L1 and R1 buttons.
Again hindering the bowling is the idiotic AI. CPU batsman will try to hit boundaries off nearly every ball. It is painful to watch batsman giving away their wickets so cheaply and often.
What really lets the game down however is the fielding. Codemasters implemented a new edge feature, where randomly even a perfectly timed shot will give off an edge to the keeper. This is all well and good until trying to take the catch, which requires the reflexes of your local superhero. The fielding team will also always attempt a run out, which consumes much time and really does get on your nerves.
The graphics are decent, but not spectacular. The player models are generally fairly accurate, and the stadiums are well crafted. Player animations are realistic and believable. Hawkeye is a great feature however, and cricket fans will be pleased about its inclusion.
Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 was a step in the wrong direction for the cricket genre. Codemasters have presented an unpolished and unfinished game, obviously brought out in time for the world cup. The 360 degree batting control is great, but the positives are far outweighed by the negatives. Ricky Ponting ’07 was a real disappointment.