Lara cricket game pleases fans
Pics at bottom (if they work)
For many there is no sport like cricket. The whack of leather on willow, the gentle ripple of applause as the ball streaks to the boundary.
But for others, it is a matter of utter indifference with bizarre, almost Victorian, customs and bewildering rules.
Brian Lara International Cricket 2005, named after the great West Indian left-handed batsman, is the latest in a video game franchise stretching back more than a decade.
It aims to attract the cricket die-hards, as well as those who think that cricket grounds are just a waste of good land which could be better used for low-cost housing.
The game looks impressive and has tons of options. Game makers Codemasters have put together a presentation package as slick as anything emanating from the Electronic Arts stable of sport simulation.
Batting - always the best part of a cricket game - can be very hard to master with bowlers from even minor countries turning into a virtual Shane Warne, bowling it in at the stumps with unerring accuracy.
BRIAN LARA INTERNATIONAL CRICKET 2005
Screenshot from Brian Lara Cricket 2005
Format: PS2 (reviewed), PC, Xbox
Enduring appeal: 6
Timing the stroke is very much of the essence with batting, just as in the real game, with little margin for error afforded. But get it right and you will see the ball sailing over the boundary and a rewarded with an excellent replay of your Pietersen-esque shot making.
The batting action is let down by the rather ponderous way the batsman move around the crease to hit the ball. Press the action button and wait while the batsman seems to think about deigning to play the ball.
It Is no surprise therefore that you find your batter heading back to the pavilion at fairly regular intervals. It is also incredibly easy to be adjudged leg before wicket (lbw) by the merciless virtual umpire which makes it possible for Australia to be bowled out by Holland for 25 in Lara Cricket.
But the pain of being given out lbw is eased by the terrific rendering of Hawkeye, the facility used in TV replays to show if the ball was going to hit the stumps.
Bowling soon dulls the senses. Your little man runs up as you move the joystick, press a button and, hey presto, the ball is delivered.
Get half a dozen balls successfully aimed at the stumps in a row and you can pretty much guarantee that the computer or human opponent will make an error and will be making the long lonely walk back to the pavilion.
Your bowlers can sledge - cricket speak for making a disparaging remark to the batsman - but this often involves them pulling a stupid face and applauding very slowly
The fact that a lot of the players look like Avid Merion's Craig David character gives sledging in Brian Lara a comic rather than menacing tone.
Screenshot from Brian Lara Cricket 2005
Batting can be very hard to master
Unfortunately, the whole Brian Lara package is let down by the lack of real player names. Instead of Andrew Flintoff there is the more Welsh sounding A. Flintaff and England Captain Michael Vaughan metamorphoses into M.Vorner.
The action is accompanied by David Gower, Jonathan Agnew and Ian Bishop all chuntering away about the action, as with nearly every other virtual sports commentary this all gets dull and repetitive.
Brian Lara first emerged on the Sega MegaDrive a decade ago and at the time and was, by a long chalk, the best game involving two teams of 11 men in whites and their shiny red balls available.
Likewise, Lara's later outing on PlayStation One was way ahead of the competition. But in recent times Electronic Arts (EA), the giants of console sport, have moved in on cricket.
So how does Brian Lara compare to the latest EA Cricket 2005? Well, in truth, there is little to choose between them. There is plenty of depth to both games and both have lots of competitions to play in.
As for slickness and graphical execution, there is little more than a quickly taken single between them. The facial rendering in Lara is better and the game play a touch quicker but batting is more fun with EA, with shots easier to execute.
Put simply, in two-player mode, Lara has something as a decent pick up and play experience even for someone uninitiated in the dark arts of cricket but do not expect to be playing it solidly for months.
However, if you are a big cricket fan, then prepare to give of your life as you embark on the world tour, the Brian Lara career mode or battle through historical scenarios going all the way back to the first Ashes Test in 1882.
Re: Lara cricket game pleases fans
I played this yesterday. It's more of a baller's game than the batter's. The names don't really bother me, looks like they couldn't get the naming rights, but you can work everyone out. On World Cup, the names are fine.
Good fun, just wish the graphics were a little better.