International Cricket 2007 offers easy-to-pick-up controls for an accessible experience, though it's perhaps a bit too easy, and hurt by a lack of game modes.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Robust online offering including 16-team tournaments.
- Not enough game modes
- Official licence for ICC tournaments only
- Fielding is too hard
- Not great looking for a 360 title.
Just as EA's Cricket 07 was released late last year to capitalise on the then-upcoming Ashes Series, Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007 (or Brian Lara International Cricket 2007, if you live in the UK), from UK developer Codemasters, is being unleashed right in the middle of another major tournament: the ICC Cricket World Cup currently being held in the West Indies. The timing is apt, and not only because of the game's official World Cup licence. With its focus on easy playability and simple controls, International Cricket 2007 certainly feels more like the limited overs version of the sport--quick, exciting, and with a focus on big hits and high scores. The game's lack of comprehensive Test Match or Tour options as well as real player names only appearing in the World Cup mode may irk cricket tragics, but others looking for a more accessible game to play with friends will find plenty to enjoy.
Limited overs encounters form the crux of International Cricket 2007 (better known as Brian Lara International Cricket in the UK). While you're given the option to play one-off Test Matches complete with the requisite two innings per side, most of the modes in International Cricket 2007 revolve around the One Day experience. The game's flagship mode is the actual ICC Cricket World Cup tournament itself, which features all of the 16 finalists' teams as playable (and arrayed in their real-world tournament groupings). As well as the ICC Cup, last year's ICC Champions Trophy event held in India also gets its own dedicated mode, and once again features all eight teams that were involved. From here on in, the list becomes bare--you can set up custom Test Matches, One Day Internationals, or Twenty20 games, but the bad news is that only 16 teams--the teams in the ICC World Cup--are available to choose from. There are no tour modes, there are no domestic competitions--basically nothing outside of the official One Day tournaments and custom matches. Working in its favour, however, is the fact that cricket really isn't that widespread a global sport (come on--own up to it, cricket fans). So while only 16 teams are playable, the world's biggest and best cricketing nations are represented (as well as minnows like Ireland and Canada). What will probably annoy fans more is the game's lack of real player names for modes outside of the ICC events--no doubt an effect of International Cricket 2007's ICC-only licence. That means while real player names are used in the World Cup and Champions Trophy mode, they mysteriously take on strange pseudonyms in any other game modes. (Australian paceman Brett Lee becomes B. Leap, for example).
It's been two years since the International Cricket series last made an appearance, but anyone who was familiar with the previous games should be able to pick up and play the 2007 version almost immediately. Codemasters' additions to gameplay have been fairly minimal--batting has been improved with some new shot types, ball movement has been tweaked in bowling, and fielding has been bolstered with the ability to throw to either end of the pitch. Perhaps the biggest addition is online play for the PC and Xbox 360 versions, as well as global leaderboards and achievements with the 360.
Batting is done using a combination of button and control stick movements--it's not as immediately intuitive as EA Cricket 07's century stick system, but it certainly won't stump anyone who's ever played a sports game previously. Ground shots and lofted shots are assigned to different buttons, while sweeps have been mapped to the 360's shoulder buttons. Direction is chosen via the left stick, with a small minimap of fielder positions appearing in the left-hand corner of the screen to indicate which direction is safest. As with previous International Cricket incarnations, timing is a key element in batting--mistimed shots result in missed swings at best and easy catches for fielders at worst. Good timing isn't that hard to achieve, however--even at the highest difficulty setting (the game has four), slogging big fours or sixes are routine, although the task does admittedly get harder with lower-order batsmen.