By Joshua Peck
Batting in a cricket game seems either every ball can be hit for six or you can’t lay willow on leather. Likewise, bowling is either aim at the stumps and bowled or the ball is sailing back over your head every time. However, Ashes Cricket, Big Ant Studios’ latest entry, has managed to find the balance between too easy, a la Brian Lara Cricket, and too difficult such as various EA Sports shots at the market.
More and more aspects of the game are available to be user controlled, though there are occasions when the AI takes over – annoying when dropping a simple catch or taking too long to turn when trying to make a run.
Being Ashes Cricket, most users choose to be Australia or England. No issue here, with full licensing in place and Jimmy Anderson actually looks like Jimmy Anderson. Other countries, counties and states are available, but with no licensing (although edited teams with correct squads and kits are downloadable from the online community hub), it’s like playing fantasy cricket.
In a year where women’s cricket boomed in the UK, with England winning the Women’s World Cup, it’s a massive positive to be able to play as the women and try to win the Urn for the girls too.
That’s doable with consummate ease. Setting up a Test, 50-over, T20 or even Five5 game is very simple, while those with more time can alter almost every facet to set up a contest unique to any form of cricket.
Designing your own stadium, including the looks of the grandstands, pavilion and even all the roads that lead up to it can keep you busy and it’s brilliant to go even more in depth in an almost Football Manager style.
The ability to play with your friends, whether online or in the same room is always a benefit, though being able to see the delivery coming at you from the beginning of the delivery stride is always a bonus to the batting side.
But, unlike at most club sides, you can always jump in the nets for some practice. And when you do make it to the middle, be sure to have those fingers warm. Coming down the crease, going on to the back foot or just a general sweep shot all take multiple button presses.
But that’s what makes it enjoyable. Ashes Cricket is challenging without making you want to throw your controller through the television at the end of every over, batting or bowling.