Ashes Cricket 2009 First Impressions

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.

Many of the grounds will be instantly familiar.

Making a return are quick-time events. Some fans found that catching was too difficult in Brian Lara, and this has been tweaked this time around. You'll still need to hit a button at the precise time, but the window of opportunity, represented by an onscreen gauge, is more forgiving. Although you'll be able to move fielders around and make catches, the majority of fielding is automatic, leaving you to focus on batting and bowling. Firth told us that the team has made major advances to bowling since Brian Lara, with the biggest difference being changes to the bowling-pace gauge. Instead, the gauge now represents the delivery of the ball, with four colour zones representing deliveries that are too late, edge, spot on, or too early. Bumpers change the type of bowl: swing, cut, or reverse swing. It was also revealed that only certain players will be able to perform reverse swings, based on real stats.

Cricket 2009 has what appears to be a thorough training mode called Legends. Presented by real-life legends Sir Ian Botham and Shane Warne, the mode runs you through basic and advanced bowling, batting, and fielding techniques. Each section has numerous skills to master such as when to defend, attack, and run as a batsman. The mode also aims to reinforce the sometimes technical terminology that the game uses while teaching you how to incorporate more advanced techniques into your game. Lessons include, for example, when to change your batting for fast and spin bowlers, and when to lead with your back foot versus front foot.

Transmission has completely rebuilt the franchise's engine from scratch because the developers wanted to make use of the graphical potential of the 360 and PS3. In development for two and a half years, the game is starting to come together quite nicely and given the limited worldwide appeal of marketing should please the majority of high-definition sports fans.

Cricket 2009 brings the sound of leather hitting willow back to consoles after several years in the locker.

Adding to the authenticity of the game, Codemasters has secured the commentary of Tony Grieg, Ian Bishop, Shane Warne, Ian Botham, and Jonathan Agnew. The TV-style commentary won't react to every play but will focus on big events such as scoring fours and sixes, and will include plenty of banter about cricket, including potentially in-depth monologues from the outspoken Tony Grieg. Bishop and Grieg have appeared in the series previously and recorded new commentary for Cricket 2009. Diehard England and Australian fans will be pleased to know that there are two different themes for the menus that can be toggled to your preference, complete with team colours and classic anthems including Channel 9's cricket theme for those down under.

Ashes Cricket 2009 will be taking the crease on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC this June. A full interview with producer Jamie Firth will be featured in an upcoming episode of Start/Select.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

66 comments
iowastate
iowastate

I am an American who loves cricket and having a heck of time getting access to any cricket sim

gang_nishchay
gang_nishchay

its great...just cannot stop playing it..really must buy for a cricket fan..it will be a worthy keep..

THE8GHOST
THE8GHOST

It means that the other teams will be available but the names of the players won't have the right spelling, just like it was in brian lara cricket 2007

Death-wing
Death-wing

unlicensed versions of other teams? what does that mean?

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

@ Remington007 I'd definitely say go for it. I'm sure he'd at the very least appreciate the gesture tremendously, even if he never figures it out, and he still ends up with a fine Blu-ray player at the very least.

deeatoms
deeatoms

Hurry up and come out already.

tomlovescricket
tomlovescricket

I think u can create ur own player not sure about the other stuff

willcanniford
willcanniford

Will there be some sort of manager mode or create-a-player career mode etc. or is it just friendlies and test series?

Remington007
Remington007

My dad is 60 and a typical Aussie cricket fan. I am contemplating buying him a PS3 and this game plus whatever the best soccer game is out there for fathers day. Naturally at his age he is not into gaming and has probally never even held a controller, but I really do think that if he had little go and actually managed to work out the controls he would LOVE it. Does anyone else think that this would be an older persons user friendly game? He could change channels and have a crack whilst he is watching the REAL cricket on TV with a Stubbie of beer!

joel_chtri
joel_chtri

i hope the player's faces match, n they have spelled every player's name correctly.

tomlovescricket
tomlovescricket

Im a big cricket fan and love cricket games but the graphics havent been that good but they look awesome on this you can tell which players are who can't wait to play it

WiiandXBOX360XD
WiiandXBOX360XD

i am a big cricket fan and i am glad u can play as all the test teams but will this be out in Canada cause i realy want this game omg

Farooq14
Farooq14

AmarSAcharya Tayri Ma ki bund mein So (100) Ghordon ki lun. Gushtee maa ka bucha, Mein is game mein tayri ami kay saath bat ball khayloon Ga. Gandu kay Buchay ,"Yeh cup Kidhar Gaya". Tayri Ami ki wicket Gira kay to tu hua tha!

AmarSAcharya
AmarSAcharya

sala pakistani bhenchhod . . . it would be great if they could put every major team in, but the liscence would be impossible. india should be good in this, at least in Twenty20 . . . even if they played horribly this last month.

Sherman91587
Sherman91587

That would be cool. I have no idea about anything to do with cricket but I would def give a shot to try and learn about it. They would not have to put a ton of copies out just so many so the US could get a taste.

DWWilkin
DWWilkin

Will it be able to purchased in the US?

Salmanw
Salmanw

I can't tell how much I'm loving it!

rohail88
rohail88

awesome!!i havce waited so long for a cricket game...although they should bring it for the ps2 and psp too!

luke_3011
luke_3011

Does anyone know if any videos have been released yet? I first saw the ad for the game on the news. Ricky ponting was being interviewed about the (real life) ashes and the game was on the tele in the background so there's def promo vids in existance. I'm so pumped for the game i feel like cartman in the sp episode where he freezes himself so he doesn't have to wait for the nintendo wii to come out. It's just a shame it doesn't snow in syd otherwise i'd consider it.

stingerkiller
stingerkiller

Hopefully this can be the best cricket game yet i have a feeling it will be a good first attempt on the 3rd generation consoles, the graphics as you can see in the screenshots look more realistic especially the stadia however the cricketers in the screenshots seem unrecognisable. Regardless of wheter this title will be a success or faliure i will still purchase this for my PS3 well you all should check it out after all cricket games are rare its not like the fifa series where you get countless releases a new footy game every year whereas with cricket like every 2 years or it usually conincides with a tournament such as world cup in this case the ashes. Here is some gameplay footage with an interview with punter you can see it on the TV in the vid, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSkNIUT1-Bo

siddarthshetty
siddarthshetty

Waited for 2 long years for a cricket game now its finally here...i hope they hav included IPL

god_of_war91
god_of_war91

Hmmmmm.....this could turn out to be the best cricket game till now.

ravspdr
ravspdr

this can be used on USA ps3 right?

GamerEnthusiast
GamerEnthusiast

I love sports games, especially on Tennis, cricket, and football. Unfortunately, no games have come out on Field Hockey. I hope that this game is available as soon as possible in India.

maverick_76
maverick_76

I don't know too much about cricket but I am willing to give any game a shot, especially if it is a competitive sports game.

ajleo
ajleo

LOL@ "and if it needs tobe an australian , so be it" :P , KAnt WAitttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!! finally cricket is back! and that too to nextgen consoles!.. Yipeeee Woooooo!!!! kant wiat!!! "gamerkiduri" Ipl sux agreed and all the test playin nations are in the roster including all that youve mentioned, if ud read the preview. This is gonna be awesome! :D

gamerkiduri
gamerkiduri

this game would be a huge succes if they put the same feel and excitement into it, like the old days. pak vs ind. n if it has good online

gamerkiduri
gamerkiduri

y r all these stupid indian ppl obsessed wid ipl,ipl sux. eny way i cnt wait 4 this game but this game wud fail if it dony have any other international teams like newzea land, south africa , pakistan etc.

thehighdra
thehighdra

i hope the high pitched Tim Allen on helium voice is back each time you miss a shot

thehighdra
thehighdra

i hope that high pitched Tim Allen on helium voice when you miss a shot is back

Xobeee
Xobeee

AND THEY NEED TO HAVE AN APPEAL BUTTON

Xobeee
Xobeee

finally. i had been checking for new games every week and finally its here. btw i really think the test difficulty level in BLC 2005 was great. you really had to focus on batting and bowling and with pace the batsmen could really mistime the shot. i hope its something like that

ali_hamza
ali_hamza

IPL would be a welcome addition. But i guess it won't be incorporated. Maybe they are better off, Modi will charge a whooping sum that would just want to smudge his stupid idiotic little face. The features, additions and changes sounds exciting. Developers need to pay attention to the AI most importantly. A tight, thoughtful and aggressive AI will take the game to a whole new level. They should also concentrate on the glitches and bugs present in every cricket game. They are extremely stupid most of the times and take away from the experience. What a cricket game needs is to catch the 'feel' and 'excitement' of the sport. It becomes all too passive to feel interested throughout the game. They need to up the pace of the game. Bring in the unique atmosphere that every team, stadium and match brings.

bennae66
bennae66

i am actually interested in this. whats wrong with me... i never waste money on sports games! (except maybe blood bowl)

imtiyaz786
imtiyaz786

I dont uncerstand why everyone seems to have a problem with catching in the previous game! Catches in this game are goning to be too easy and there will never be a dropped catch. I felt the last system was good you atleast dropped 1 or 2 in every 10.

gandalf_storm
gandalf_storm

its certainly looking very nice indeed, i just hope its better then the last lara game, which to be fair was pants, especially the fielding and catching

norwali
norwali

Hey! I'm finally glad they're making a decent cricket game for the 360. Hope Lara's in there cause WI rule! or we were ruling for a while...anyways, i agree with mattcake too, 20-20 is a great idea for the game and the sport too. I would be fun to choose any number of overs for a match though, but that's probably wishful thinking. Can't wait for this one. Also hope some game developer decides to make the 360 version of Rise of Nations or Age of Empires!

scarecrow025
scarecrow025

I agree with you mattcake, but the inclusion of 20-20 is likely arcade enough for those who are looking for that quick, run-fest experience. I just hope we get extra grounds as DLC, especially the Australian grounds

mattcake
mattcake

I think any cricket game will suffer the same way a Formula1 game would - the more you try to make it realistic, the worse it becomes. Driving 50 laps and maybe overtaking someone once is about as exciting as bowling 50 overs :) A simulation mode for diehards is great, but these sorts of games need a solid arcade mode too - they manage it with football games, no one plays 90mins there, so why not other sports? In a cricket game I wanna feel if I hit my timing right I can get a 4 or 6 every shot, as unrealistic as it sounds it still makes a final score viable if the match is only 1/50th the "real" length. In Fifa I'd expect to score at least every few mins of gameplay, apply the same logic to other games please to keep them exciting... :)

tahirmirza
tahirmirza

yeeee.. i was waiting for a cricket game this generation.. cant wait.. im so excited..

Smoolander
Smoolander

Limited appeal over the world, but I'm glad they are making this. Now we just need a decent AFL game.

deeatoms
deeatoms

I loved Shane Warne cricket 99 on ps1. No Adelaide oval??? DAMN

andrewajones
andrewajones

I just hope it isn't going to be as repetitve as BLC 2007

sahossain
sahossain

Its great to know that they have added features like back foot and front foot shots, coming down the wicket feature, diverse bowling options. Lets keep our fingers crossed. Catching in the previous BLC game was hoeeible. Lets hope they have improved that.

sahossain
sahossain

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

mufaa
mufaa

IPL would be a welcome addition. But i guess it won't be incorporated. Maybe they are better off, Modi will charge a whooping sum that would just want to smudge his stupid idiotic little face. The features, additions and changes sounds exciting. Developers need to pay attention to the AI most importantly. A tight, thoughtful and aggressive AI will take the game to a whole new level. They should also concentrate on the glitches and bugs present in every cricket game. They are extremely stupid most of the times and take away from the experience. What a cricket game needs is to catch the 'feel' and 'excitement' of the sport. It becomes all too passive to feel interested throughout the game. They need to up the pace of the game. Bring in the unique atmosphere that every team, stadium and match brings. I am looking forward to the game. And i hope Codemasters gets it right this time.