Ashes Cricket 2009
Codemasters and Transmission games have dusted off their cricket whites for Ashes Cricket 2009, and we got an exclusive first look at the new game.
Codemasters' last cricket game was also developed by Transmission Games, which previously brought us Brian Lara 2007 Pressure Play on the PSP. Since then, the Melbourne-based studio has been designing Ashes Cricket 2009 from scratch for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Producer Jamie Firth gave us an exclusive first look at the game ahead of this summer's biggest clash.
As the name implies, Ashes Cricket 2009 features fully licensed versions of the English and Australian international cricket teams, as well as unlicensed teams from a range of other cricketing nations. All of the test-playing nations should be in the final game, and Codies has promised a robust player and team editor, combined with plenty of generic heads, to help you get team likenesses as close as possible. Given that the English and Australia selectors are keeping the final Ashes sides under close guard, the exact lineup in the game has yet to be confirmed, but expect to see 23 players in each squad, covering all of the usual suspects. We saw models of Ponting, Vaughan, Prior, and Sidebottom, all of whom were instantly recognisable.
The stadiums are also looking rather detailed, and with 18 stadiums from 12 nations, there should be something to please most fans. England and Wales get to play on Lords, The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff, and Headingley--the five grounds set to host 2009 Ashes tests--whereas Australia has the Melbourne, Brisbane (The Gabba), and Sydney Cricket Grounds. Other locations span India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Zimbabwe. The atmosphere will change depending on the conditions of the match and locations. For example, Firth said that the test crowd at Lords is somewhat staid at the beginning of play, with the crowds filling up the stands throughout the day.
Pitch options will also be based on their real-life counterparts, so if you want to play on a crumbly pitch, you'll need to play somewhere warm such as Sri Lanka or the West Indies. Other pitches, such as Brisbane, will be baking hot and hard in the height of summer. You'll be able to tweak the wear of the pitch from the typical wear on day one, through to the fifth day of a test. Thankfully, there'll be no delays for rain or bad light but, for instance, you're more likely to have cloudy, cool weather in milder climates such as England. Weather will also affect performance, and a really hot day can affect stamina. Players will regain some of this via tea and lunch, but the heat during the course of a long day in the field will certainly take its toll.
The Ashes, regular test matches, one-day internationals, and Twenty20 matches will all be available in the game as well as the option to create custom tournaments. There's also a Classic Moments mode in which you can replay historical scenarios with current players, using Hawkeye data that allows for the paths of actual test balls to be accurately emulated in-game. There are three levels of difficulty that essentially change the timing window that you have when batting or bowling. Recent changes to the game have been incorporated into Cricket 2009, such as Kookaburra's pink night-match ball, batting powerplays, and the free-hit rule included in Twenty20 matches. For those who don't have the time for a full test, you'll be able to simulate entire matches, batting or bowling sessions, and overs. We didn't get a chance to see any multiplayer, but Cricket 2009 will support up to four players in offline matches, with two batsmen, and two bowlers taking alternate overs. Online multiplayer will be a straight-up head-to-head match, with all of the different modes and teams supported. You'll be able to customise player stats and uniforms in offline matches, but this won't carry across to online play.