Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 Reader Review
With the ICC world cup under full swing, every cricket fan wants to get a piece of the action. And what better way than to be able to virtually smack your rival team all around the park? But does BLC'07 deliver a perfectly pitched yorker, or is it just an overpitched full-toss?
Lets be honest here. BLC'07 doesnt feel like a second generation title on the 360 by any means. Infact, it doesnt even look like a 360 title at all. Graphics are sloppy, and the framerate is way too choppy. Only a handful of players look like their real life counterparts, but most of them just look plain silly. Oh, did I mention they all have the batting stance, bowling action and even the same built. The animations are very rigid, with only a handful of shots which look realistic and elegant.
BLC'07 is more or less like its predeccesor, BLC'05, with a few nifty little tweaks in place. The game engine essentially stays the same, with exactly same gameplay mechanics.
The batting mechanics are quite simple, and somewhat satisfying. The direction of your shot are mapped onto the direction keys (analogue sticks/D-pad), with the type of stroke(offensive, grounded, defensive) mapped onto the face buttons. With every succesfully timed shot, or any shot where you get runs, your batting confidence meter increases, and when it reaches maximum, you can dance down the track using LT and smack the bowler. You can also sweep and reverse sweep now, but those shots are seriously flawed, since they target hitting the ball in the mid on and mid off area respectively. Who hits the ball to mid on with a sweep shot?? Beware though, miss and you will get stumped. Although the feature is nice, it does get boring after a while. It is much easier to dance down the track and smash fast bowlers for a six as compared to slow bowlers and spinners. Also, after a wild swing, the batsman simply freezes for 3 seconds if he misses. This leads to some extremely unrealistic stumpings, like getting stumped to Bret Lee! In terms of realism, even on Test level difficulty, you can easily score at a run rate of over 20 an over. Yep, you read it correctly, more than 20 runs per over is extremely easy to get even on the highest difficulty setting. Talk about high scoring matches!
Bowling is probably where most of the innovation lies, and it is quite fun actually. The ball now behaves more realistically, with the ball conditions effecting behaviour like reverse swing. As with BLC'05, the swing is controlled by the bumpers, and the different deliveries mapped onto the face buttons. Whats missing though is the sensation of speed. When you bowl as Bret Lee or Shoaib Akhtar, it harldy feels youre in control of the worlds quickest bowlers. Not only the pacers, even the spinners suffer the same fate. Virender Sehwag can spin the ball as good as Muralitharan. The LBW decision is accurate less than 50% of the time, and the hawk-eye is hardly useful.
BLC'07 introduces a nice feature of being able to throw to both ends now, making up for interesting nice run-out situations. For some reason though, the players are simply not content with keeping the ball in their hands, and you have to throw the ball at one end every time. And if you mistime it, you will end up with overthrows. This becomes really frustrating after a bit. Imagine the batsman played a defensive shot, picked up by the bowler on the pitch. Now, he has to throw the ball to one end, and if you by mistake throw it at the bowlers end and miss the stumps, hey presto, easy runs for the batsman. Another little annoyance is the ability to easily run 4 runs. How many times in internation cricket do we see batsman running 4 runs? But BLC'07 allows you to do that very easily, which seems highly unrealistic.
However, my biggest gripe with the game is the catching system, which has not seen any change since BLC'05. Basically when a ball approaches a player, a bar suddenly pops up over his head which fills quickly, and the player must press the 'A' button in the middle of the bar to take a catch. The problem here is the meter appears almost randomly, and you need to have ultra quick refles to take the catch. This would be understandable if this was the case only for slip catches, but this is true even for a simple catch. The same system applies for throwing the ball, and suffers from the same problem, so you are only rarely able to get a good throw to either end.
The one area of the game which has seen some nice improvement is the commentary, with more professional commentators. But the crowd sound effects get borign real quick, and the set pieces of commentary really get annoying and predicatable after a while as well.
BLC'07 is a semi-decent cricket game for the 360. It feels more like an minor upgrade to BLc'05, but it seems the game has only been release to capitalise on the ICC World cup, rather than offer a genuine good cricket game. It does boast of a rather fun multiplayer mode, and thats what this game should be bought for. But if you are looking to play a single player game, rent this, get the achievement points and give it back. All in all, its a disappointing outing for the cricket fans.
Graphics : 5/10 Sound : 7/10 Gameplay : 6/10
6 / 10