Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 PS2 Review

After almost a decade of absence, the Brian Lara Cricket series has made a triumphant return. The game was released at the start of the Ashes series, and is the first cricket game to ever top the all format charts as a result. Not a bad new beginning for the re-emergence of a popular series, which started way back in the 16-bit days and was last seen on the PlayStation nearly a decade ago.

This writer has got to admit that he isn’t too big a fan of Cricket. The rules are fascinating, but when it comes to watching the sport, it’s an almost sleep inducing task. Witnessing a ball being batted around for hours on end just isn’t the most stimulating of TV viewing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that playing a virtual recreation of the sport is going to cause “sleeping pill” like reactions to such a person as this writer. Taking part can completely alter a perspective, as is the case with Brian Lara Cricket.

The Brian Lara Cricket philosophy has always been about ease of play, and this 2005 edition is certainly no different. Batting and bowling are both achieved with a might of ease after only depositing a small amount of time and practice, although this doesn’t mean that the game is lacking in depth as there’s still plenty of skill required before you are good enough at leaving your mark and turning virtual cricket into a bona fide art form.

Stepping up to the crease for the batting motions isn’t as daunting as one might think, even with a ball flying at you at speeds in excess of 100mph. Most of the important face buttons each have their own task, if it’s defensive shots, attacking shots or big hits intended for the maximum six points. Hitting the ball is one thing, but nailing the timing for perfectly played shots is an entirely different thing. This is slightly aided by an on-screen bar, which displays how successful you were on the timing of each of your shots. Running between wickets is meanwhile achieved by pressing the required button, whilst maintaining a close eye on the small box that displays your running batsmen.

Bowling and fielding is intuitive enough without being overly patronising. Delivering balls is accomplished easily enough, with each of the face buttons granting you access to various throws. Fielding is brainless and AI controlled, which means you are only required to attempt catches or toss the ball back to the wicket keeper. In fact the fielding is flawed as try as you might, the ball just can’t be tossed to the bowlers side, and we’re certain that the development team could have just as easily succeeded in keeping things simple without dumbing down this rule. Elsewhere you are able to toy with different fielding formations, which is a must if there happens to be an enticing gap for the batting side to take advantage of, or you just fancy fiddling with your fielding positions.

Virtual confidence also plays an important part in the game. When batting, high confidence allows for better shots and increased movement in the crease, whilst bowling confidence grants you new ways of delivering the ball. The confidence is displayed on the screen through meters, and works a real treat during the game, so much so that you’ll be feeling just as confident as your on-screen player.

The presentation of the game should be commended for it’s “TV style” camera angles and the employment of the Hawk-Eye technology, which shows the deliveries of the balls in each over, as well as the line where the ball would have travelled in LBW situations that have been shunned by the umpire. It’s just a shame that the overall look of the game is lacking in polish, and looks really quite poor in comparison to EA’s latest effort.

There is a wealth of game modes for the keen player, including tournaments such as the fully licensed ICC Cricket World Cup and the Champions Trophy (the players bizarrely only have their real names in these modes). You can choose to play Test Matches, One Day Internationals and Double Wicket in exhibition mode. The game even offers a classic mode, which allows you to repeat or rewrite history in virtual recreations of past memorable match ups, all in glorious black and white.

Brian Lara Cricket has made a very successful return, and retaining the simplicity of earlier games in the series makes the game as addictive as ever. Bear in mind that all these words are coming from someone who falls asleep whilst watching cricket. To finish with a cricketing cliché, Brian Lara has definitely cleared the boundary for an impressive shot.