Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 Reader Review
Pros: Recreates the feel of cricket; both bowling and batting are fun; commentary is good for a change; nice theme tune; good tutorials
Cons: Some dodgy character models; crowd effects are rubbish; catches are really difficult; occasionally iffy AI; poor manual
I am fairly new to cricket having become a spectator and fan after moving to Canterbury, home of Kent County Cricket. BL 2007 is my first cricket game, so I am lucky in that I don�t have anything to compare it with.
The game features most of the licensed teams from the ICC World Cup, and you can recreate the tournament in the main game mode; you can also play ODI, 20-20 and Test Matches. XBL supports up to four players with extra players playing as the second batsman or fielder.
Bowling is performed by pressing one of 6 buttons that vary the delivery (fast, swinging, slow, yorkers, googlies etc.) with the shoulder buttons used to add swing in the air. The bowling is a lot of fun and the game faithfully recreates its look and feel. The bowling becomes a bit of a game of chess as you adjust the field positions and plan your next attack: for instance, do you use slips with an out-swinger, or fire a yorker straight at the batsman�s feet? The bowler has a confidence meter, which enables you to pull off the more difficult deliveries (such as bouncers and yorkers) as you search for a wicket.
Batting is equally rewarding with 6 buttons used to select the type of shot to play (safely, slog, drive, or sweep). The key to batting is timing, and you must carefully judge the bowler�s delivery to make the perfect shot. The batsman also features a confidence meter that allows him to pull of more powerful strokes at the risk of getting stumped easier.
Fielding is less successful and is at times down-right frustrating. Catches seem impossibly difficult to master. When a ball is destined for a catch a meter appears on the screen for a split second. You must hit the meter right in the middle to pull off the catch. The problem is the meter often appears very fast, with the camera quickly changing, making it very difficult to hit the A button in time and make the catch.
The graphics in BL 2007 are functional and colourful, but at times comical: wait until you see Freddy Flintoff�s face! Backgrounds are watered down with a heat haze effect that occasionally make the horizon look like a cheap watercolour. The player animations are fluid enough, and the bowler and batsman look life like and realistic. The action replays look very good, with the ball spinning dramatically through the air. The whole presentation is very TV like with the use of �hawkeye�, replays, and batting+bowling summaries.
The sound is pretty basic. The crowd effects are repetitive and there is only one music track; but at least it is a good one. Worthy of praise is the in-game commentary from a wide selection of TV and Radio commentators. BL 2007 is one of the few games where the commentary adds to the atmosphere and not just annoy you.
I have yet to try XBL but I don�t image any lag issues because the style of the game. The single player game modes are fine, if a little bland: regular ODI, Test and 20-20. The real value in this game will be in the online play. The achievements are well designed, encouraging varied games, and are nicely balanced with some being easy, whilst others are much more challenging. You would not say any of the achievements are impossible, unlike UEFA Champions League 2007!
Overall, this is a faithful recreation of leather against willow and is a must buy for anyone who enjoys Cricket. If you are not a Cricket fan then you might struggle with the nuances of this game as it does assume a good understanding of the tactics and strategies involved in Cricket.
8 / 10