Ricky Ponting 2007 Pressure Play Hands-On
We slog it out with Codemasters' first handheld cricket foray to give you our hands-on impressions.
Codemasters' Ricky Ponting Cricket series (otherwise known as Brian Lara Cricket in Europe) is by now a well-established brand on consoles, but it's making its first appearance on a handheld with Ricky Ponting 2007 Pressure Play for the PSP (also known as Brian Lara 2007 Pressure Play), due out in late September this year. We dusted off the pads for a hands-on session with the game and found that veterans of the series should have no hassles in picking up and playing this portable new title.
Australia's IR Gurus are in charge of dev duties with Pressure Play, and they've stuck closely to the template of the 2007 console versions of the game (right down to featuring the same song on the game's main menu screen). The ICC World Cup held in the West Indies earlier this year once again forms the main gameplay mode, although the biggest new addition to the PSP version is the eponymous pressure play mode. Pressure play sees players tasked with completing a series of challenges, which range from simple objectives tied to familiarising players with the controls for the game to more complex tasks which require players to emulate famous events in cricketing history. The pressure play modes--which developers at IR Gurus have previously told us are designed for short bursts of play--are grouped into five brackets. Knowledge is the basic mode which teaches you the control fundamentals of the game; masters ramps up the difficulty; winners tasks players with winning a game from a set position; classic is where historical scenarios are played out; and googly comprises more unusual objectives.
On the pitch, pressure play's controls work similarly to the console versions, so much so that anyone with previous Ricky Ponting experience should have no problem picking up the game and starting to slog sixes almost immediately. Batting shots are once again mapped to different buttons--X is a ground shot, Circle is a lofted hit, Square is a defensive shot--with the PSP's analog stick used to direct the hit. Timing is again an important factor in making a successful hit, as players will need to start their swing at the appropriate time to make the best contact with the ball. To help with timing, a metered bar appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen which shows if you're swinging early, late, or on time.
This metered bar--which is exactly the same as the one which appears in the Ricky Ponting console games--also contains the bowler confidence indicator and the batsman confidence meter. Bowling is performed by a combination of button presses and the analog stick--players select a delivery style using one of the PSP's face buttons, aim the ball using the left analog stick, and press the selected button again for pace. Fielding is fairly basic--a sliding meter appears just before each fielder action, and successfully stopping this meter in the right area will result in a catch or a good throw back to stumps.
Have we mentioned Pressure Play feels exactly like the last Ricky Ponting console games? This, of course, isn't a bad thing. Pressure Play definitely feels more arcadelike than simulation, and is probably quite suited to the quick bursts of play common to handheld devices.
Pressure Play sports some decent graphics for a PSP title, with players featuring some nice animations--without actually looking much like their real-world counterparts. The stadiums look good, although the crowds are just flat sprites.
From our play time, it seems IR Gurus have done a good job in translating the Ricky Ponting series to the PSP, with much of the console version's accessibility apparent in this game. Ricky Ponting 2007 Pressure Play hits the PSP at the end of September in Australia, and at the end of August in the UK.
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