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Cricket Captain 2014

Think you're better than the captain?

The game is well suited to the hardcore strategist, but its complexities and ordinary graphics may turn off the casual player

Anand Ramachandran

August 31, 2014

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

The game is a deep and satisfying cricket management simulator that will keep you entertained for a very long time © Childish Things / KISS ltd

All hardcore sports fans believe, at least to some degree, that they could manage the strategy and tactics of their favourite team better than whoever happens to be doing it at the moment. While very few fans think that they are better than the players themselves, most of them have no problems with the idea that they have better ideas than the coach or captain.

If you're one of the fans who falls in this category, Cricket Captain 2014 gives you the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is - and lead your favourite team to victory in virtual cricket.

Right off the bat (sorry about that), Cricket Captain 2014 offers you a pretty wide variety of game modes to dive into - in fact, new players may find it all a bit overwhelming. You can choose to play a domestic or international season, a variety of preset tournaments (or custom ones should you not find one to your liking), bilateral series between present or past teams (the all-time great teams are a fun thing - more about that later), or choose from some classic India v England Test series. Even a few minutes of messing about in the menus makes it clear that this is a game that can keep fans occupied for years together.

Once you take the plunge (I picked the IPL season, naturally) you'll start your career. But there's a lot of stuff to do before you play your first match - there's team selection, match results from all over the world, pitch preparation, and all sorts of analysis and stats you can look at to help you manage your team. You also have to evaluate players' form and decide where to focus your coaching efforts (you can assign players to work on general technique or specific stuff like off-side shots, defensive bowling and so on) in the days leading up to the match. You'll also have to worry about player fitness and physiotherapy. And you thought Duncan Fletcher's job was easy?

Once the game starts, you start feeling like a cricket captain more than a coach or team manager. You'll have to call at the toss, evaluate the playing conditions (weather, pitch, outfield) and then go about the business of telling your players what to do.

Batting is relatively simpler - all you do is pick the batting order, and control the aggression levels of each batsman. You can also tell one batsman to farm the strike, but that's about it. While you can choose to play each ball defensively or aggressively if you really want to, mostly it's about deciding general strategy and then hoping your players execute the plan. Which is pretty much all that a batting captain can do anyway - so the experience is authentic enough - you'll exult when your players are belting it all over the park, and wring your hands helplessly when your middle order collapses like so many Indian batsmen in England.

Bowling is, naturally, a lot more engaging and complicated. You change bowlers, set fields (choosing from presets or meticulously setting it manually), decide to attack or defend and generally go about the business of being a fielding captain. Here, you feel a lot more in control, but it's still a great simulation of what a captain goes through - you can plan all you want, but your players can still screw it up. Just like in real life.

You can run the simulation ball by ball, or fast-forward overs if you can't be bothered. You can even just auto-play, or skip and simulate entire matches. This system gives you the flexibility to play the game at your pace, skipping over the boring matches against the minor teams and focusing on the heavyweight battles.

The only part of playing matches that I really didn't enjoy were the 3D graphics that popped up whenever a "highlight" moment like a boundary or a wicket occurred. After a few matches you'll be tearing your hair out whenever it happens. The player models are ugly, the animations are glitchy and repetitive. The graphics don't add anything to the enjoyment of the game. In fact, for me they significantly detracted from it. I'm pretty confident that every devoted simulation player will feel the same.

Given the game's depth, unless you're familiar with earlier games in the series or are a reasonably hardcore sports management game player (or have to review the game perhaps), you could easily find yourself overwhelmed enough to put you off playing it. The more determined players will probably take the trouble to learn all its features, but casual ones are unlikely to soldier on past the first few screens.

There is a manual online, but the lack of an in-game tutorial or even a basic help menu is hard to excuse in a day and age where no game ships without these things. Game developers have not expected players to read a manual to play a game for over a decade now.

The game's user interface and presentation are also rather rough around the edges. Again, this is something hardcore players may look past, but for large numbers of more casual players used to modern, slick presentation, it may get in the way and ruin the experience.

Overall, Cricket Captain 2014 feels like a deep and satisfying cricket management simulator that will keep you entertained for a very long time - offering a huge number of options, complexity, and gameplay depth. However, it has some glaring weaknesses that prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending it to all players.

Casual player? Stay away. Hardcore fan and wannabe strategist? Jump right in.

Cricket Captain 2014
Childish Things / KISS ltd

Anand Ramachandran is a game designer and writer based in Bangalore. @bigfatphoenix

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by TheMil on (September 2, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

Will we ever be treated to a comprehensive cricket game, similar to the Fifa series, incorporating all players, stats, tournaments etc.? I long for that!

Posted by MinusZero on (September 1, 2014, 22:47 GMT)

I am still waiting for an Android version. Someone should tell the creators that there are far more android devices than iRubbish being used now days.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (September 1, 2014, 20:57 GMT)

Cricket captain is good, but Cricket Coach 2014 is better for me as you can create your own new player. Sometimes I will be so immersed that I will not know 8-9 hours have been passed and the whole day has been gone

Posted by thefountain on (September 1, 2014, 20:01 GMT)

I really enjoy the series. You can also play All time Greats - Thank you for reviewing this title.

Posted by android_user on (September 1, 2014, 16:44 GMT)

it would be slightly better if I could actually 'play ' as one player

Posted by   on (September 1, 2014, 14:32 GMT)

Can anyone send me the link to buy this game?

Posted by MrPud on (September 1, 2014, 7:29 GMT)

i have 2007 version on my PSP and am still addicted to it. Have played over 50 full County seasons. Agree with most comments above that the poor graphics really don't matter with a game like this. To anyone new to this style of game, rather than pay full price for the latest version, buy a previous edition at a discount.

Posted by Nerk on (September 1, 2014, 1:41 GMT)

The graphics are rubbish, but the same can be said of Football Manager. You don't play games like this for graphics. You play for the gameplay. ICC is the most realistic cricket game and it can be very addictive. I disagree with the reviewer in that I don't think it is that complex, and it only takes a few hours to get the gist.

Posted by SoyQuearns on (August 31, 2014, 23:19 GMT)

Lol dude you can turn the highlights off or reduce their frequency to only watch what you want.

Posted by MinusZero on (August 31, 2014, 22:46 GMT)

Been playing ICC 2009 for ages. Great game. I love playing the in depth county seasons. I also love all the player stats

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Anand RamachandranClose
Anand Ramachandran Anand Ramachandran is a game designer and writer based in Bangalore. He specialises in finding creative ways to justify time and money spent on watching sports, playing games and reading comics as "professional investment". He boasts a batting average of 79.66 with 53 first-class hundreds in various cricket videogames, on platforms as diverse as the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum and modern PCs and consoles.

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