Cricket Captain 2015 Review

Score 45Let’s imagine that the game’s piss-poor and non-immersive simulations weren’t an issue, and we were basing this game entirely on its merits to provide an engaging experienced based on trading and managing a team.  Even if we did that, this game still isn’t worth its outrageous sticker price.  It feels like a game you could play on Newgrounds for free.  It’s does nothing to expand on last year’s entry, offers nothing new and is a silent grind through lists and stats.  It’s menus aren’t user-friendly, and doesn’t offer the kind of customization needed to keep users from getting annoyed.  It’s simply not ready for primetime.

WHAT WE LIKED
º The menu system is easy to navigate with a simple interface.
º The game provides a visual highlight system that shows gameplay.
º Team management, trading, and training offer diverse experiences.

WHAT WE DISLIKED
º The complete lack of improvements over previous installments.
º Outdated graphics made me want to pull out my Dreamcast.
º For 25 bucks, you should get more than an updated list of players.
Every time your bowler throws, this is always the angle you’ll see.

This should be an interesting review.  You see, I’m an American.  WAIT, before you go running for the back button, let me tell you the honest truth, and then you can decide if you’re willing to give my review a read.  I think that’s only fair, considering I spent six hours giving this game an honest chance, right?  Okay, good- you’re still reading.

When I was assigned this review, I knew nothing about Cricket.  Nothing.  I knew it involved sticks, people running back and forth and a giant paddle I’d more likely see in an S&M dungeon than on a field.  I knew nothing, Jon Snow.  So, considering I was going to be playing a game where I’d manage a team, I figured I’d at least act like a real coach and pretend like I knew what I was talking about.  So I spent a couple extra hours learning the game, watching highlights, and you know what; I get it.
I can proudly say, I’m in a country where no one couldn’t care less, and I now appreciate the sport.  It’s not nearly as predictable as baseball, and it’s far less silly than I was lead to believe.  It’s still silly- I mean, a guy in leg pads tries to defend two sticks holding up other sticks with a giant stick from a thrown misshapen ball.  
The menus are bright and colorful, and yet easy to read.

So, after learning the ropes, and putting my cultural prejudices aside, I was ready to manage a team.  That’s where Cricket Captain 2015 comes in, Childish Things’ newest entry in this niche series.  Starting the game up, the first thing I noticed is the lack of soundtrack, offering no kind of menu sound effects or anything.  The game must assume you’d rather listen to your own music rather than a small selection of theirs, so I put on some talk radio as I started the game up.

Starting a campaign, I discovered that the difficulty menu only offers a ‘Normal’ and an ‘Easy’ mode.  Considering I was a newbie to all of this, I went with the most accessible option.  I was then presented with “Test Captaincy”; with options for “Earn it”, or “Start with it”.  Oh, man- the team’s watching; I better just start with it.  Right?
Well, whatever I did, it seems right, because I then get to sign some player contracts.  Alright, now this is what I’m talking about- let’s make some offers.  There’s of course some ringers in the crowd, but they’re wanting a third of my budget, and I can’t afford a Gambhir or Tendulkar (Those are players, right?)!   So, I choose to go with a more uniformly professional group, ranging from cheap newer players that I can train, and some veterans with consistent stats.  After a while of purchasing players, I then move to overseas, where I’m only allowed to buy four players.  Why I’m not allowed to buy more, I’m not sure- it’s my first day.  The game wants me to buy more players, but the only ones left are from overseas.  I move on, and hope for the best.
I get into the main menu, and find all of the statistical option I could ever want- except a help or tutorial menu.  The game simply assumes that you know how to handle this type of game, making it difficult for newcomers to understand exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  I’m presented with a ton of information that I wish I understood; like what’s a “Silly Point”, or a “Deep Fine Leg” is.  
So, I finally get into a match, ready to watch my game unfold before me; and the game suddenly opens the floodgates of how monotonous all of this is going to be.  I mean, sure, I knew I wasn’t going to be playing Don Bradman Cricket, but this is still a simulator right?  I suddenly feel like I’m coaching a really advanced version of an NES game.  When the game shows you a highlight from the game, the audience drones a low mumble regardless of the action on field.  You slam it over the border, nailing a six, and the audience continues talking amongst themselves.  Every player is lifeless, and offers no diversity of movement or celebration when they out a player; they just throw their hands in the air and shake them like they just don’t care.  And that’s how I felt about this game’s presentation; it’s like the developers didn’t care either.
This may be the most dynamic thing you’ll see in the game, usually when there’s been a LBW.

Looking back on Gale’s review of last year’s game, it would seem not much was done to improve on this very obvious fault.  No one runs and jumps, pumping their fist in the air.  They patiently wait for their turn to almost sarcastically and simultaneously celebrate their win over Wales.  If the players don’t give a crap, why should I?  I mean, I hate to refer you away to EA for good game design (something I never thought I’d never do), but could you imagine watching Mesi striking a goal, and then just throwing his hands in the air, or spinning around and awkwardly standing in one place?  Sure, you don’t have a cricket engine like theirs, but you have no more than six animations.  Do you really think that’s enough visual stimuli for a game already bogged down by endless lists and stats?  After hours of watching the same animations, my only respite was the repetitive blood-curdling scream the bowler would let out with every out; especially since the crowd doesn’t join in.

Sorry guys, but Gale was kind with his review last year- because there was zero attempt at increasing this obvious opportunity. I refuse to ignore the outdated and frankly lazy graphics you have in this game.  Not only are the animations boring, but everything else is too.  The stadiums feel lifeless, with poorly cutout spectators who look as fatigued as I was.  The low-res field texture is flat and looks painted on.  I know it seems like I’m reaching, but this isn’t a matter of money; it’s a matter of taking the time to make the experience better.  Would it have cost you that much to take the camera and add some dynamic angles?  Does every shot need to follow the bowler and then the ball after the over?  If you’re not going to improve the graphics, don’t hide them by keeping the camera far away- give me something interesting to look at.
Okay, I’m sure a few of you who stuck with my review are saying, “But Trevor, you ignorant Ass-hat; it’s not about that- it’s about the strategy of building a team!”  Normally, I might agree with you, but asking to skip these segments is threatened with a worsened team performance, so you HAVE to sit with them- or are you okay with your team failing?  If you’re going to force me to sit and watch this drivel that the game called ‘Highlights’, why shouldn’t I hold it accountable for its fifth generation graphics?
And the crowd goes flat and unresponsive!

Also, let’s look at that system that the game is built around.  For one, nothing has a click and drag interface.  If you want to move a player down on the roster, you have to click, select replace, go to the other character, click and replace.  It’s slow, and tedious.  If you want to quickly get through watching one of the exciting matches, hitting ‘Auto Play’ will stop you to let you know about the most inconsequential things, only to make you hit ‘Auto Play’ again after you confirm acknowledgement of the previous notice.  Why can’t you just let me watch the game?  No one has a face connected to their stats; hell, even if they were cartoony, it’d be something in a sea of names.  Other matches are flashed at you so quickly when you progress to the next day, it just further cements for me that even fans don’t care about the other teams in these games.  Your players constantly and erratically need to be rested, like two bowls into a game.  If those were my players, I’d tell them “no- wait for the ‘Tea Interval’”, whatever that is…

Look, perhaps I just don’t have the passion for the game that some of you do- but I do have a desire to play good games.  I’ve reviewed games that a grown man shouldn’t play. I’ve critiqued games that insult my soul.  I’ve plunged headfirst into experience I wouldn’t wish on an enemy.  This game, without a doubt, might be the most boring, lifeless experience I’ve played in a long time.  If you’re a fan of Cricket, I would suggest demanding more from the developer, because outside of that hysterical scream, I didn’t find many positive things to say about this game…
If it’s any consolation- I’m actually a fan of cricket now- so hopefully converting a non-believer makes you feel a little better after reading this.
·      Publisher – Kiss Ltd
·      Developer – Childish Things
·      Genre – Sport Simulator
·      Release Date – July 8th, 2015
·      Version Reviewed – PC
·      PEGI Rating – N/A
·      Multiplayer – Yes
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