Lousy controls and unpredictable AI means this game is in for a lifetime of twelfth-man duty.
- Multiplayer helps dodge bad AI.
- Bland visuals
- Passive fielding ruins chances of wickets
- No alternative control scheme
- Inconsistent CPU difficulty.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but while a game experience faithful to its source may lure fans to the virtual reproduction, hardline adherence doesn't necessarily make for enjoyable gameplay. The latter is certainly the case with Cricket for the Wii, and when you're not wrestling with the rubbish control system, you'll be assaulted by bland visuals, incompetent AI, and stilted audio commentary.
Motion controls permeate every aspect of Cricket for the Wii, (Ashes Cricket 2009 in Europe) and the promise of twisting an arm to alter the flight and turn of your leg break or swinging the Wii Remote to simulate driving the ball through the covers is sure to have every lounge room cricket nut salivating. But while they do a reasonable job successfully mimicking the real-world arm movements of bowlers and batsmen, the game's control system is weighed down by inaccurate gesture mapping and repetitive movements.
The game is divided into three modes: Ashes, Exhibition, and Scenario. Ashes offers five-day, five-match tests between Australia and England using the current real-world player roster. Exhibition allows you to play one-off matches with your choice of the eight available sides in six to 50 over contests. Scenario mode offers seven challenges to complete per nation, which includes hitting a set number of consecutive sixes, taking a required number of wickets within a period of time, and batting out the end of innings to secure victory. Ashes and Exhibition play are straight matches, while Scenario provides some much needed variety. Unfortunately, in the case of the latter, the small country roster and similar nature of the challenges means it doesn't offer much replay value once completed.
The long length of Ashes matches means it's not necessarily feasible to play four innings in a single sitting. While you can save and resume matches at will, the fast-forward simulation option found in the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions is missing here. This option awarded you an average score for the innings and let you skip straight to the thing you love doing most--either bowling or batting. The fact that it's missing seems at odds with the casual friendliness of the game.
Multiplayer is one of Cricket's strongest components and allows two players to swap the strike, alternate bowling, or battle against each other as their favourite represented international teams. Four-player matches are also supported and pair two players on each team; though the non-striker batsman and the rested bowler are left waiting for their turn. Multiplayer succeeds because it mostly circumvents the game's unpredictable AI and provides a much more level playing field than playing solo against the CPU. Cricket doesn't support online play, so you'll need friends and a handful of Wii Remotes if you want to vie for the virtual cup.
As the bowler, you're given the option to shine the ball by vigorously shaking the Wii Remote for a few seconds to build up a power meter before each delivery. It's never required, but doing so offers you additional swing or spin to complement your bowler's style. Once you've decided whether to shine or skip and are ready to start your run, you'll need to hover over and click a cricket ball superimposed over the middle of the screen. This frees up your cursor and allows you to steer around the pitch by tilting the remote to determine the line and length of your intended delivery. Unfortunately for those who are pedantic about their ball placement or have shaky hands, after just a few seconds, the game locks your marker in place and begins your approach to the crease. The console and PC versions of Ashes Cricket 2009 allowed you to move your cursor until the ball left your hand to help you bamboozle batsmen, but unfortunately, this feature hasn't made the transition to the Wii, forcing you to bowl the delivery wherever it lies. Your only other option is to do nothing when prompted to bowl and take a one-run penalty for a no-ball.
Not bowling is an easy way to avoid being belted to the boundary on a loose delivery (and makes for boring multiplayer when no one wants to bowl duds), but it is completely at odds with the rules of the sport because failure to release the ball would be called dead in any real-world game. It's a surprising liberty and punishment for a game that attempts to mirror the sport so closely but often results in long drawn-out overs and frustrated batsmen. If you do manage to get the bowling cursor in a spot you'd like to bowl and lock it in, it's not uncommon to see the marker shift slightly either left or right of your intended spot. A few pixels here and there may sound inconsequential, but they represent the difference between a tight, scoreless bowling line with LBW (leg before wicket) chances and being flicked off the leg or off stump for runs.