If you’re a fan of the sport that Robin Williams once described as “baseball on Valium” your options have always been distinctly limited if you’ve ever looked to enjoy a sharp videogame representation of it. A sizable bevy of different cricket franchises have come and gone over the years, many of them respectable and many of them considerably less impressive than that, but fans of the sport have never had the annual drama of a PES Vs FIFA to focus on – it’s usually a case of just leaping into the most recent iteration and hoping for the best.
The fact that International Cricket 2010 is the only up-to-date and current-gen cricket title available right now should probably work against it, but whether you’re looking to take things incredibly seriously or are merely after some quick-fix thrills, this update of last year’s similarly strong Ashes 2009 tie-in delivers both in very generous spades. You can spend the best part of an entire day partaking in an uncannily shrewd re-enactment of a full test match, but there are several options present if you just want to have a quick blast with a few friends in single or multiplayer.
This dynamism represents the game’s greatest success, as cricket games for the most part have always felt the need to target one audience at a time rather than make a play for both. Here you can truly treat it as an arcade-style action title or a serious and time-consuming depiction of cricket in all its composed and measured glory. Even people who aren’t knowledgeable (or even massively keen) on the sport are also welcomed in rather brilliantly by some terrific tutorial modes that explain every aspect of the gameplay, but also litter the occasional screen with some punchy side notes about the sport itself and how the gameplay mechanics apply to each of them – and this is done with real class and commendable brevity.
Another solid decision has been made to put you, regardless of where you are on the field or what position you’re playing, right into the action with faultless over-the-shoulder cameras. Whilst this resolutely does not work in football games for example, here it palpably adds to the level of excitement and captivation. You can still return to the broadcast TV-style visuals if you like, but there is much to be said for the added involvement offered by the former scheme. Like last year’s release, the gameplay is still pretty impeccable, and offers up a large host of options for both bowlers and batters, many of which are primarily based on pitch-perfect timing.
For anyone who’s already had more than their fill of football this summer this experience is extremely refreshing. It doesn’t try to needlessly sex-up a sport that has always been so charmingly antiquated (despite the appearance of Kasabian’s furious Fast Fuse in the menus) and older players are just as likely to warm to it as younger ones. It’s simply a thoroughly stellar proposition, and whilst the visuals are occasionally a mite scrappy, it is easily the most entertaining and realistic duplication of the gentleman’s game that we’ve yet seen on a console.