The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Game Point
Batting it right

If you love the game of cricket, take a shot at this one. EA Sportsí cricket series has been staggering for years now, struggling to impress. Finally, that has changed. Cricket 07 is not the best possible thing, but there are enough improvements to make it a much more enjoyable game.

One of the reasons this version works better is because of the improved gameplay mechanics. If you have a joystick, or a similar controller then you will appreciate the new Century Stick batting system that gives you an intuitive way of playing your shot ó you just tip the stick in the desired direction.

As far as running between the wickets is concerned, itís just a matter of tapping buttons. The Artificial Intelligence is extremely accurate in taking catches but there are occasions when you get overthrows and fumbles. Batsmen have a confidence meter that controls the success rate of shots. There are likely to be more errors with the inexperienced batsmen, so you really have to work to get runs on the board.

Bowling on the other hand lacks any compelling gameplay. You choose where you want to pitch a ball and press a button. Time it too late, and itís a no ball. With your bowler all fired up ó say, after taking a wicket ó you can choose special deliveries like bouncers, yorkers, and slow balls. With the action in the fielding fully automated, bowling starts to get boring. Thankfully thereís an auto play option in the test matches that speeds up the process.

While you can play any competition structure from the KFC 20Twenty to the World Cup, a big chunk of Cricket 07 is devoted to the Ashes. In this mode you can replay the 2005 test series, or go straight into the new 2006 series. There are also a number of small challenges based on the highlights of the 2005 series. Thereís a Create-a-Player option and a squad editor. You can detail your playerís abilities, give them specific strengths and choose a name to be used in the commentary.

In terms of visual style, Cricket 07 has clearly improved. The camera perspective has been given a tweak. However, most of the players are hardly identifiable and the animations are all the same. For example, all the bowlers have the same action. Attention should have been paid to the crowds and the stadium. Cricket 07 wonít win any awards for its visuals, but it does an OK job.

Cricket 07 is a fun game for hardcore cricket fans, but itís still not the addictive, compelling, exciting game that it has the potential to be. The new Century Stick batting system is a huge improvement, but the bowling in Cricket 07 is still too weak to make test matches worth the effort. A lot needs to be done to make this a truly engaging sports simulation, but at least you can enjoy hitting sixes out of the park with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Minimum System Requirements: Operating System: Windows 2000/XP, processor: 1 GHz or higher, RAM: 256 MB or higher, 3D video card: 32 MB or higher, free hard disk space: 1.2 GB or higher, DVD-Rom: 8x or higher

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