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Name - EA Cricket 2004
Release Date - March 12th 2004
Genre - Sports
Developer - HB Studios
- Officially Licensed
- 56 teams with over 1000 players
- 61 stadiums around the world
- Change the weight, look and playing attributes of your
- Practice Nets
- C&G Trophy - Frizzell Championship
- International Tour - County Championship
- TV overlays and statistical graphs
- Expert commentary from Jim Maxwell & Richie Benaud
- Infinite camera angles and instant replays of your best and favourite moments
Available Teams/ Tournaments
- Australia (A side also available)
- India (A side also available)
- New Zealand
- Pakistan (A side also available)
- South Africa (A side also available)
- Sri Lanka
- West Indies
- Pura Cup
- ING Cup
- New South Wales Blues
- Queensland Bulls
- Western Warriors
- South Australian Redbacks
- Victorian Bushrangers
- Tasmanian Tigers
England & Wales
- C&G cup
- National First Class League
Well cricket 2004, the follow on from the very dissapointing cricket 2002. Produced and developed by the ever-growing HB studios. The game itself, is very hard to describe. The opening menus are very easy to use and finding your way into a game is fairly simple. The choices are far and wide and there is many, many different and interesting game types. The gameplay, whilst having short-comings has a sense of 'character' to it. The players faces are un-defined and have 99% of the same features a play from a different county of a similiar ilk has, the bats are blurry around the edge and its hard to actually define the crowd from the outter boundary rope and yet through all this the gameplay is utterly addicting.
Im not sure whether its me and just me that enjoys the game play but that I certainly do. Whether its the pleasure of a Glenn Mcgrath length ball thundering through the covers on the 1st morning of a lord's ashes test match or a sweep to Murali saving a game on a dustbowl there is a certain feeling of enjoyment throughout the game.
The over-riding issue though is infact the sheer scale of bugs this game has. The original release is perhaps one of the most bugged up games any company have ever released. Had it not have been for the instant possibility of patching this game up, im fairly sure HB studios would have been put under severe scrutiny for releasing a game blatantly short of the finalised product that we've come to expect of games in the 21st century.
I'l go into the bugs themselves after I give a detailed run down on all aspects of the gameplay.
The batting itself is enjoyable, but only enjoyable for a short period as batting against the computer AI in easy or normal mode becomes a strole after the first few overs and in some cases, I find myself hitting 300+ in the first sesion of a test match. There is an array of shots available to the batsmen, that can be toned and practised in the practice nets (on the main menu, gives tips on batting, timing, shot selection etc). We have the leg glance, sweep, straight drive, square cut, on drive - basically all the clasical and recognised batting cricket shots. The statistical options are of a good standard, with numerous different ways of summarising your batting performance, the spider etc.
There is also an option to autoplay should you become bored either an over, a session or the whole innings if you wish to do so.
Advantages - The batting is easy to control and if your looking for a run-fest there's not much playing in to do before it becomes easy to bat, even on hard level. Genreally speaking the batting is ok, the quality of shots is good and on the outfields are realistic in the sense that the weather affects the speed at which the ball runs.
Dis-advantages - The batting becomes boring after a while because of how easy it really is. Its impossible to play certain deliveries such as the yorker, even if your 200 Not Out off 400 deliveries. The AI's bowling is to predictable and the field settings are abysmal.
This is the really big let down in the game. Bowling with fast bowlers is ridicolously hard and bowling with spin bowlers is horrifically easy. For example, As i once played on normal I bowled only fast bowlers at the Aussies from the lunch break to the tea break with the Australians finishing 108/0 from 29 overs, I then bowled only spin bowlers from Tea until the end of play and the Australians finished the day on 154/8 with all 8 wickets coming from my 2 spinners and 4 batsmen being dismissed within there first 20 deliveries.
I also find the pitch and the way the ball reacts to be as equally frustrating. There are 5 pitch settings, Normal, Green, Hard, Damp & Dusty now just for an example. On a normal wicket around the world, the new ball will still swing for the first hour or so and then perhaps die down and the batsmen will setlle in, however on Cricket 2004 the new ball does precisely nothing on a normal wicket, with not even the slightest hint of swing. Its unrealism like this that just wrecks the bowling side of the game for me.
Advantages - There really aren't many. I suppose you could say that if you want to win a game by taking 20 wickets then you; certainly do that if you bowl your spinners
Dis-advantages - The AI batting goes into complete defensive mode the second you move your field settings and thats that then, they either collapse to your spinners or the run rate goes down to 1.00 at most. The pitch reacts poorly in comparison to real life, normal wickets are horrific to bowl on and literally offer nothing, whilst the much touted green wicket dont swing as much as they should in real life.
The BUGS themselves
- The fielders catch balls that have either seemingly passed them or are 15 yards wide of them.
- The wicket keeper lets the ball go through his hand horrifically frequently
- The AI batting isn't realistic enough to the situation
- Frequently bowlers bowl more than the amount of overs they are allowed to in a 1 day game
- The commentary is horrific, explaining how an over was so expensive when the over was infact a maiden
- There's no edges in the game to the wicket keeper
- The middle order of 99% of teams crumble
- New batsmen repeatedly get out via the same dismissal with the spinner bowling
- Fielders drop a ridicolous amount of catches
- The AI field settings dont change until you are 90 not out from 30 balls.
Like I said, if you find a patch that has the bugs removed or patched out then this is a great game, but until then enjoy the character it offers, but be prepared to get seriously frustrated with the incredibly poor amount of system bugs that HB haven't sorted out.
Overall Rating Un-patched 3/10
Cricket 2004 was the first cricket game that I have ever bought and I bought it after really liking the game after renting it. I bought it very cheaply indeed at just under £10 which I thought was a very reasonable price. Firstly I thought that the graphcis were ok, they seemed to the job well enough although they definately could have been improved. I felt that the gameplay was somewhat diminished by the poor quality of graphics. I really liked the player editor though because I thought it added a good level of personlisation to the game. It meant that you could change the weight, look and diferent playing styles of the player.
I thought that the gameplay aside of the graphics made it really great fun to play on and from that I would recommend this game. I though that the practise nets were a great feature of the game and it was fantastic to play on 2 player with friends. There is also some TV style commentary in the game which makes the game seem even more realisti however, I found that after a while it becomes really irritating as they tend to repeat themselves quite a lot! I liked how many game styles there were such as being able to play in 20/20 or in the World series which gave a good amount of variety to the game I felt. There is a vast player collection available with over 1000 to choose from! I hope this was useful and thank you very mcuh for reading this.
In the aftermath of an epic series where England regained the Ashes after sixteen long years, it appeared as if the entire nation went somewhat cricket crazy. Kids put their footballs away in favour of willow. The Premiership took a backseat in the headlines to Freddie and his heroes. Quite rightly i'd say. Cricket has been on a downer for the last ten years. Now that we finally have reason to be proud of our team, it was only natural that there'd be a surge in cricket videogame purchases. Codemasters, the producers of Brian Lara Cricket must have been laughing all the way to the bank as their title found itself on the crest of a national wave.
EA are the holders of the official license to just about everything cricket. They're the ones with the muscle in the market and their release of Cricket 2004 had the potential to carry that license through with solid gameplay. Unfortunately EA have gotten it all wrong. Oh so very wrong. It doesn't take long to discover that all is not what it says on the case in their sim. The gameplay is astounding. Astounding in it's sheer audacity to grace shop shelves with so many rough edges. This is a game that quite clearly suffered from the vast resource consumption of other hit EA franchises. Maybe next year given the new national popularity, EA will invest more time in their product.
The presentation itself is faultless. You really can't pick holes in the way that EA sets out its menus and graces the setup screens. Everything is laid before you very neatly with easy navigation and minimal hassle. It's simple to find what you're looking for and getting launched straight in to a game should be relatively painfree for even the newest of cricket fans. This is what you'd expect from the developers. It's their sleek aesthetical know-how which allows them to make such a dime out of dodgy gameplay. rest assured however, as soon as your team of men take to the field, you'll be singing a different song entirely.
Now, lets face it. We all know that when confronted with the spinning wizardry of a Shane Warne, the margin for error as a batsman is tiny. We definitely shouldn't be able to tap the shift bar at our leisure and tonk the bloke out of the park for a six. Not without immense risk. But while Warney and his pals may provide a stiff test for a batsman, it surely shouldn't be an impossibility. In Cricket 2004 it is.
I'm no Brian Lara with the willow and i certainly admire the technical prowess behind such undeniable ability. Batting is a craft and a great deal of practice seperates the Freddie Flintoffs from the walking rabbits. But EA have gone overboard here. Way overboard. Batting isn't so much a steep learning curve as it is a bloody vertical wall. You'll have a scorecard that looks more miserable than a typical English collapse from the mid 90s, no matter how much time you spend practicing. And that's on Normal mode! I took one dab at batting in hard mode before deciding that i'd have more luck pillaging the Australian attack myself in person.
A difficulty curve isn't an easy component to perfect. Yet it's as essential as the gameplay itself. When you're playing a game of cyber cricket, you want your little digital men to carry out a game that mirrors the real thing. Many cricket games down the years have meddled with this and failed miserably. I've found myself skittled out for 6 runs, in the same way that i've found myself mounting an imposing 600 run opening partnership. Very rarely does a cricket game hit a realistic engine to make you feel as if you're playing an innings as intricate as the real thing. Cricket 2004 is a terrible offender.
I decided to bat as the world champions themselves, the mighty Australia. Why the betrayal of my heritage? Well quietly i hoped that by dawning the baggy green, my own cyber ability might just crank up a notch and give me the opportunity to hit the ball for once. The bowler runs up and delivers in to the industry standard little white box. You see this white box before the ball has been bowled. You obviously have x-ray vision. Too bad you have the timing of Phil Tufnell. Play the ball a fraction of a second too early and you'll sky the ball softly to mid-off. Play it too late and you'll nick it straight to second slip. There really is no margin for error. Occasionally you might crack one through the covers and smile cockily that you've finally mastered your art. It won't last. It will not last. I guarantee it.
As a result of the sensitive batting gameplay, i found myself blocking every ball. Strangely enough, the little white box allows you to shuffle across your crease and glance the ball in to the leg side with ridiculous ease. The AI of the opposition captain fails to notice the area of the runs being scored and as a result, i made a half century of loose runs where the ball was simply dropped on to the leg side. An international captain, or lets face it, an under 10's villager would know that such a source of runs is immediately cancelled out by a change in the field. Yet the computer AI never suspects such a thing. It fields a nine man off side field and allows you to pluck the ball in to the gap with unsatisfying ease. I mentioned the extreme timing of batting, but the leg glance is relatively easy to execute. Your only other option is the forward defensive. You might be able to pinch a run if you drop it in to a gap and scamper through for a single.
Beyond these cheap means of making runs? You can slash at a ball outside off stump, but be prepared to make your way back to the pavilian, for those magical fielders possess an incredible knack of catching the ball with their backs turned! I'm not even kidding. In a strange graphical glitch, the fielders take 50% of the catches when they're looking in the opposite direction! Strange stuff.
It's worth noting that the game is absolutely fraught with bugs. Some of these are disgraceful and unacceptable. You have the unplayable yorker, a ball which never fails to take a wicket, even if your batsman is set at the crease. There's nothing more disheartening than battling your keyboard with sweating fingertips and clawing your way in to double figures, only to get bamboozled by a ball which the computer engine refuses to let the bastman play. It also ruins the entire essence of bowling. Why probe away outside middle and off with a good line and length when you can just throw in a yorker and celebrate an almost guaranteed wicket? I found myself purposefully avoiding the yorker because i didn't want to take cheap wickets. Oh, and be warned. Even if you do stick to the line and length of Glen McGrath - One wicket guarantees a batting collapse in the opposition. It appears as if the entire computer AI batting engine is designed upon England's team of the 90s. You'll often find that the opening pair of the opposition put on a century opening stand, then as soon as you get a wicket, nine others will tumble from the exact same delivery that the previously imperilous batsman were smacking over your head for four.
Even more disturbingly, there is a severe bug when you save the game. Lets say that you've picked a sixteen man squad for your series and you choose your team of eleven which doesn't match the default selection. Well, you can start a Test match and everything will run smoothly enough. But if you save the game, then exit and return to it at a later date, you'll find that your original team has changed midway through a match! Your batting order will have mystically rearranged itself in to the default order based on averages, and this in turn means that a debutant middle order batsman will come in at number elven because his average is 0! You'd think that the bug is a mere freak fault in a bodged disk. It's not. Don't believe me? Go and check out EA's community forums for the game. You'll find a bugs thread which makes every other forum topic look tiny in size! It's no joke. The developers haven't even bothered to test their own game. For this, there are no excuses.
It's an impossiblity to play a test match series without exiting the game. You'll find that your team changes and the eleven men who take to the field in your first innings won't necessarily be the same as the men who come out for the second. A ridiculous mistake to make.
Graphically, it's a passable affair. The stadia are reasonable enough, but the players rarely look like their real life counterparts. To be honest, this wouldn't bother me normally. I'm more tilted towards gameplay than graphics, but in a game of such shoddy bugs, i'd expect the world's greatest graphics for it to even begin to redeem itself. This doesn't come close. It's quite obvious to see that EA's priority lies with the Fifa and Madden franchises.
On the subject of player likenesses, there are some serious fundamental issues with the likenesses of the way your players ply their trade. Ashley Giles will either skim the ball through without the slightest trace of spin, or he'll churn out a ripper which Murali would be proud of. It's simply not realistic. We all know that when Freddie Flintoff hits the ball, the ball stays hit. Yet his booming off drives and hook shots have no additional power whatsoever. It's like playing with a team of Average Joes. What, may i ask, is the point of having full player licenses if the license is only good for their name on the product?
To EA's credit, they've plugged the game with many different options. You can participate in World Cups, Season Mode, Exhibition Matches and all the other varieties that you'd expect from a licensed game. If you really want to practice your batting, feel free to knock up in the nets where an audio commentary will drive you absolutely nuts within moments of entering. The commentary in the game isn't much better. Lets be honest shall we? With all due respect to the great man, Richie Benaud's ancient drivel hardly makes for the most pulsating of audio leads. You're better off plugging in a CD of choice and cranking it up to full blast so that the neighbours don't get wind of your frustrated cursing.
If you're looking for a dedicated cricket title, look no further than the excellent Brian Lara Cricket. The EA team, quite frankly, are taking the mickey with this outing.
Operating System: Windows XP
Processor: CPU Pentium 4 2.4GHz or Athlon64 3000
Video Card: Geforce FX 5700 or Radeon 9600 or higher
CD-ROM: CDRom 52x or DVD Rom 16x
RAM: 512 MB RAM
Operating System: Windows 98/2000/ME/XP
Processor: Pentium PIII 800 MHz Processor or AMD Athlon
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 2 or ATI Radeon 7000 or higher
CD-ROM: 4X or Faster
RAM: 256 MB RAM
Firstly I would like to start off by saying EA Sports Cricket 2004 is the best Cricket game ever released, beating even Codemasters classic in 'Brian Lara Cricket'. The 2004 game is a good update from the previous 2002 version with several new features.
All English County Cricket teams with there correct grounds. You have the ability to either play the county championship season starting from either divisions 1 or 2 or from the 2003 season.
You can also play the one day National League, Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy as individual events or if you have the patience, you may want to select a full season mode where all the tournaments named above get played throughout one season.
Fully licensed Australian county cricket is also available.
There are many options of tournaments and matches on the International scene as well. You can select the standard test match series, one day internationals, One day international tournaments such as the Sharjah Cup, ICC trophy etc.
My favourite new addition though has got to be the option of a World Tour. In this option you can take your national side to play a full series of warm up games, test matches and one day series against the nation of your choice.
EA Sports have improved the graphics on the latest version by including full detailed kits for the county and international teams which show shirt sponsors etc. Also the addition of over 60 superbly modeled real cricketing venues with realistic crowd chanting is a major plus for this title. I would say that the images of some of the payers could do with a bit of work from the developers, an example being South Africa's Shaun Pollock has brown on the game when really its quite clearly Ginger!
As mentioned above, the crowd noise is very good wherever you choose to play a match, in the Caribbean you will get people playing drums, whereas in India or Pakistan you will get horn sounds if a home player strikes a beauty to the boundry! The only criticism I would give this section is that sometimes the commentary is totally irrelevant or just simply Miss-timed. An example of this is 'Harmison to bowl another over of this long spell; when in fact it might be the second over of his spell!
This is an excellent game for Cricketing fans and the general public. Die hard fans will really enjoy the world tour features. There are plenty of tournaments to choose from and the addition of county cricket will really appeal to users as you can now pick your local county team. The best cricket game to date but EA Sports will have to watch out as Codemasters are returning with 'Brian Lara International Cricket' in 2005. If the new Lara game is anything like previous versions, EA will have a difficult task of staying at the top of cricket games.
Certainly a game worth buying!