UK REVIEW--Few genres cater so directly to a specific crowd as the management sim. Incredibly dense minutiae are a sim's lifeblood, and International Cricket Captain 2011 serves up plenty of jargon and numerical complexities to please the number-crunching managerial mind. However, anyone looking for a more casual take on the gentleman's game need not apply.
The aim of your managerial career is to accrue a skilled team of players to reign over a host of international series and national club league fixtures. All of these feature up-to-date player rosters and attributes for each real-world licensed country and squad. Whether you choose to take control of the English first-class county team or the Zimbabwe international squad in a One Day World Cup, you're bound to find something that suits your tastes. Signing on new players and maintaining current ones midseason requires a balancing act that you constantly need to perform to be successful. Properly grasping the strengths and weaknesses of your players' respective roles in a realistic statistical context can be rather demanding, especially when you're also responsible for budgeting all incoming and outgoing finances. While this is germane to the standard management sim, a strong familiarity with the sport is pivotal to your understanding and enjoyment of the game. Delegating contract agreements and physio treatments for your players is required for managing your team efficiently, while knowing how to develop their talents without exhausting them is critical to your success or failure.
Whatever aspect of management you're best suited for, living with the consequences of your decisions--both good and bad--is the strongest appeal of ICC 2011. Whether you're at the top of the league table or you find yourself plummeting into financial disaster, finding ways to deal with the trials and tribulations of your managerial career is the main highlight. Thankfully, each difficulty mode is tweaked with enough realism to keep those crucial moments of decision making from becoming too easy to predict. Your most healthy players suddenly fall victim to injury at the most inopportune times; and the A.I. often makes strategic choices that you won't be able to anticipate. Granted, some squads are easier to read than others, but there’s still enough variety to keep you on your toes.
Management sims tend to lack visual flair, and that testament rings true for ICC 2011. The menus are plain and flat in design; you sometimes feel like you're preparing a PowerPoint presentation with all the bar charts and graphs that appear. You also get to see your chosen plays represented in a novel, if unnecessary, match engine, which looks extremely rough in just about every way. However, the simplified look works: information is clearly defined, and the subtle use of colour and straightforward imagery help to convey key stats and such without being overbearing. In other words, it accomplishes the necessary ease of use that all management sims should aspire to, as well as provide navigation that is both fast and functional. Plus, the game will run on just about any computer hardware, regardless of whether you have a powerhouse PC or a standard laptop to play on.
Though its implementation is rather basic, you can also take your saved single-player squads over to compete in mostly lag-free online matches with other players. You find and challenge available players to one-on-one matches through an online ladder, and you have the option to change variables such as the match length before you both start. Multiplayer stats can also be tracked through the ladder, and invites from other players can be received as you soldier through single-player, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, one of the more interesting components of ICC 2011 is not yet available--the ability to save your games via the cloud and play them separately on an iOS device. The idea sounds promising on paper, so it's a real shame that it won't be available until sometime later in the year.
International Cricket Captain 2011 is strictly for those who enjoy both the sport and the management sim genre. If terms like "howzat" and "wickets" fly right over your head, then the game definitely won't sway your opinion of the sport--and it makes no bones about it. It's a love letter to a sport that works considerably well under the guise of a management sim, and the nuanced strategy combined with reams of comprehensive statistical information will put a smile on your face if you're already smitten with the sport of cricket.