Introducing Grand Theft Cricket
In a collaboration between the video game developers who brought you Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 (aka Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 if you lived in Australia, Yuvraj Singh International Cricket 2007 if you lived in India, and simply Cricket International 2007 if you lived in Zimbabwe) and those responsible for Grand Theft Auto, a new game series combining various elements of the two classics is being brought out in time to coincide with the ongoing Champions League.
The reviews of the new game have thus far been positive. "With features that range from guessing who the mole in the team is with a direct link to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (worth most points in the game, more than even a match-winning performance with ball or bat) to then bashing said mole to within an inch of his weaselly life (worth bonus points), GTC promises to be a real edge of the seat winner for hardcore gamers," raves Wired magazine.
"This is the one you've been waiting for," gushes Time. "And by 'you,' we mean hardcore cricket fans with a latent predisposition to violence and carjacking."
Indeed, the game isn't restricted to what goes on inside the stadium. GTC players can decide which side of the law they wish to operate from, and can accordingly choose from a variety of missions they can perform for points, which can run the gamut from rescuing unwitting cricketers from sting operations, framing unwitting cricketers in sting operations, giving chase as an officer of the Delhi Police to Sreesanth across the dangerous and unforgiving streets of Mumbai, being Sreesanth, or simply diverging from one's mission for a while to 'interact' with scantily clad honeytraps at one's own risk.
As in GTA, the series is fuelled by a variety of shady characters, all attempting to rise through the hierarchy of the criminal underworld, with the only difference being that in GTC, the rise ultimately culminates, if successful, in becoming head of an IPL cricket team, or, if especially successful, the head of a cricket board.
"These particular avatars typically have the most power in the game, and are basically immune to the challenges and provocations of other, minor characters," explained a spokesman for the developers. "When players achieve the exalted status of board president, for example, they can consider themselves as having won all there is to win. But this does not necessarily mean the game is over. On the contrary, what with having to deal with constant threats to their hegemony and the presence of inconvenient sons-in-laws with terrible haircuts, their troubles are only just beginning."
All this is not to forget the cricket itself, which, in case all the supplementary excitement on offer isn't enough for you, you can actually play. As in the Cricket 2007 series,
betting batting is done using a combination of button and joystick manoeuvres, and the on-field action sequences are boosted by much-improved graphics, making for remarkably life-like representations of players on the pitch and Duncan Fletcher's face off it. There is even an option for players to become umpires if they so wish, be it a crooked umpire with a straight finger or a straight umpire with a crooked finger.
Fans of Grand Theft Auto will also appreciate the realistic depictions of street and stadium life, as well as accurately mapped-out locales around many major cricket grounds in the world, which will aid in making for a fast getaway from the stadium in the event of a police chase or gratuitous playback of the Sunrisers Hyderabad theme song.
As an added bonus, GTC is also packed with extra features that the original Grand Theft Auto or Cricket 2007 series cannot hope to match. For example, the developers have even thought to include a tip of the hat to Douglas Adams fans, of whom there are apparently many among cricket fans.
"Yeah, we thought that was a nice touch," said the spokesman. "After players have achieved a certain level of points," he explained, "they may be rewarded with the answer to one of cricket's (and the Delhi Police's) most burning questions: whether a towel is simply a towel, or if it, in fact, amounts to something more significant."
All these positives notwithstanding, critics of video games of a certain ilk will no doubt have the same complaints about GTC: that it is too violent, and glorifies a culture of crime. Charges to which the developer of the video game said in a statement in its defence: "Hey, if you have issues with T20 cricket, take it up with the ICC."
R Rajkumar tweets here.
All quotes and "facts" in this piece are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?