Anyone for Cricket?
Boasting all the popular features that made the PC version click, and a brand new graphical interface for the Playstation version, the question arises as to what Empire have been up to for two years. Surely collating team/player statistics and designing a new interface haven't dominated them for that long? Time will tell I suppose. ICC2000 basically allows players to take control of any one of England's county teams, handling the day-to-day running of the club - including aspects such as training, transfers and match tactics. The ultimate goal is the coveted County Championship, or one of the other major competitions, such as the National League and The Natwest Trophy. With plenty of sponsorship and support, it's definitely laden with authenticity and that may be enough to endear it to some cricket fans. One of the reasons that ICC2000 seems to have taken so long is the fact that Empire were aiming to have it ready for the start of the professional cricket season, which is very soon to start. Perhaps they missed 1999 and decided to tide it over until now? Whatever, the game has been developed into what Empire call "the most realistic, authoritative and detailed cricket management game ever".
Going for Broke
The question I wanted answered was whether the player could captain England, and it turns out that yes, the Three Lions can be resigned to your control, as can any of the other Test-playing nations. To complement this, there is an International database of players, once again with Wisden-verified statistics, accurate for the 2000 season. This applies to the domestic game too, with all the latest transfers included, such as Glen McGrath appearing at Worcestershire and Shane Warne at Hampshire. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of listening to the BBC Radio coverage of a Test Series will be pleased to know that Jonathan Agnew is on hand to comment on the play, which you can observe in the highlights mode. It's an important distinction to make though - you are managing the team, not playing for them. As such you can't observe a full match, and there's no splendiferous game engine for it all to take place in. Still, listening to Aggers on the highlight reel sounds good enough for me!
If you're a people person, there's still hope for you, as ICC2000 will include a two-player "hot-seat" option, allowing you to compete in First Class or one-day matches against a chum of your choice. Quite what shape this will take it as-yet uncertain. To go with the up-to-date statistics, there'll also be an extensive photo gallery of the County and International players, and photographs of most of the County and International grounds. At its heart, this is a simulation of cricket management though, so don't expect to be bowled over (sorry) by flashy FMV introductions to each stadium and such. Lets leave that to EA Sports' next World Cup title, shall we?
I'll personally be quite surprised if ICC2000 does well on the Playstation. It's an ambitious move for Empire, but I'm not sure that their target audience is as widespread as they would like. Statisticians will thrive on it, thanks to all the Wisden verification, and the addition of Aggers in the commentary box should make it more homely, but I can't really predict its popularity ahead of the release, as well rounded as the title sounds. Release Date - TBC