Cricket is one of, if not the most popular sport on our planet. So much so that in many countries across the world, Cricket has been embedded into their culture. The sport is revered and celebrated and some players are even worshiped by folks from around the world. With such high regard given to a sport and so much popularity following it, it’s kind of hard to believe that Cricket isn’t represented that much in video games. I mean, FIFA, NBA, and MADDEN get yearly game releases with refreshed rosters and game modes, but why not Cricket? The answer to that question may lie in the fact that there isn’t an audience that wants to play virtual Cricket. They’d instead watch it or go out and play Cricket for real which is quite fair frankly. However, what about the audience who wants to play virtual Cricket? Who do they turn to? Where do they go? The answer lies in Developer Big Ant Studios latest entry, Cricket 22.
Let me start off by saying that Cricket 22 is the best Cricket game that has ever been made available. But and this is huge but, it comes with a lot of caveats. I remember a time when EA used to release high-budget Cricket games, while that time is long gone the memory still remains. Big Ant Studios tried to tackle that by taking a 2-year break after Cricket 19 and presented Cricket 22 to us. While the break was well worth it as the game itself comes with a huge series of improvements, it still isn’t able to replicate the grandeur of the EA Cricket games. How could it? EA is a multi-million-dollar company while Big Ant Studios is a small team working with less than a fraction of the budget other AAA sports games get. With the budget, they have they did pull off something wonderful. Cricket 22 has some of the best Cricket simulations in any Cricket game to this date.
Whether your team is batting or bowling, Cricket 22 does a good job of representing either side of the coin by giving you proper control and ﬁeld layouts, good simulation of the rules and mechanics, and decent if not passable AI. Ask any Cricket fan and they’d immediately tell you that batting is more fun than bowling and Cricket 22 does a great job of replicating that feeling as the adrenaline-ﬁlled rush of hitting the ball outside the stadium for 6 runs never gets old. Bowling is no slouch either as it gives you options to control the pace of the ball and also lets you control the amount of spin you want to put in it. The players and teams they have the rights to represent also happen to have resembling likeness and are represented quite well with their stats and specialties.
The main problem comes with the presentation as the stadiums and pitches look bland, the crowds sound un-excited and bored and the commentators lacking in energy. Cricket is a slow sport in real life and only the most invested of fans can sit through an entire game without feeling bored or it feeling stale. That’s where Cricket 22 falls short as it manages to make short T-20 matches feel like long and arduous test matches. An issue that is deﬁnitely present due to the lack of a big budget but is disappointing nonetheless. What’s not boring is the career mode as it lets you make your own custom character and is not limited to a series of matches one after the other. Peppered throughout are training sections in the net which do bring a change of scenery and momentum. And then there are gym/ workout sessions which do increase your strength behind every swing or force behind every thrown and then here are the Zen sauna and relaxing moments. The voice acting may be bland here but the passion and heart put into these moments is more than apparent.
Cricket 22 is a game of two halves truth be told. On the one hand, it does an admirable job of representing the sport that is Cricket, with a lot of thought and works put into it. While on the other hand, it fails to deliver the ambiance and the hype that surrounds the sport and makes it special. It’s a shame that these developers don’t have a bigger budget to work with as it’s quite certain of the wonders they can achieve. But with no other substitute in sight, there is no doubt in my mind that fans of Cricket will have a very good time playing this game.
If you know anything about Cricket or enjoy the sport and are looking for a medium that transports you into the ﬁeld then I’d deﬁnitely as you to check this game out. If not, then all of us can collectively hope for a big-budget Cricket game and maybe the video game gods will listen to our prayers and deliver us what we want. Don’t get me wrong, these developers have worked wonders and delivered an amazing product that is enjoyable with the resources they had. But at the same time, asking for more and criticizing the parts that need some work will only help the developers with doing their job even better and delivering something that’ll be leagues above this the next time.
I hope you enjoy Cricket 22 if you happen to pick it up.