As 10cc sang in the 70s with Dreadlock Holiday, I don’t like cricket, I love it! It is one of the sports that I follow my country, not necessarily going to the games, but making sure I check the scores and watch the games on Sky Sports when I can. So, whenever a new Cricket game gets announced I am always excited to play. Hence my excitement at the currently playing Cricket World Cup and upcoming Ashes series which has been one of it not the main reason for this games existence.
What got me even more excited was when this game was announced for the Nintendo Switch. Perfect in my eyes, take my game with me where ever and have a couple of overs on my lunch breaks in work, any journeys I make where I am not driving, I can play, you get the picture.
Things didn’t start off well in a lot of people’s eyes when it was announced the physical edition would be simply be a download code in a box, didn’t bother me, I had the best of both worlds, I could play Cricket 19 without changing or having to carry a cartridge about while still have the physical box. Win win for me.
When I started playing a match one thing that struck me was the presentation, I love the broadcast style presentation that these games bring. Making it as though you’re watching the game on TV. It’s not only giving you that playing experience, but it’s giving you the whole shebang with the commentary, the replays, hawk eye etc. It’s all there for the full-on experience.
Bowling I found to be a challenge, trying to find that perfect ball to get the batsman out can be challenging, knowing which type of ball to go with, should I go down the leg side, play a bouncer or a fuller ball. Every ball needs to be tested with to see how the batsman reacts and there are times you can see them struggling against a certain delivery. One thing I did learn was even though the batsman may struggle against certain types of balls, don’t keep repeatedly hitting him with that, as he will learn and start getting used to it. That’s when they start going to the boundary for 4’s and 6’s, which can be disheartening. However, when that sweet ball flies in and you see the middle stump wheeling away, it’s a joy to behold, you’ve got your man! One thing I did love about this was the players reactions to it, it was just jumping up and down by the bowler to celebrate, he runs off to his team mates to celebrate and the whole team get in the act. Wonderful work and it’s so nice to see that connectivity.
Batting is just like watching that middle stump go flying, equally as satisfying and easy to get to grips with. Batting consists of noticing where the bowler is going to put the ball, adjusting your shot accordingly and then pressing one of the A, B, X or Y buttons. You can play safe and defend, normal shot, go aggressive and smash the ball, or be more tactical about it. When you go for the aggressive shot and nail it, you can tell you’ve nailed it as well, the feeling when batting is wonderful and there’s been many a time where I’ve gone to smash the ball and known I’ve edged it or not caught it with the bat properly and it’s just gone straight into a fielder’s hands.
I found the AI to be excellent within Cricket 19 as well, one example that I can give of this was that during a test match, it was late in the day, I bowled one of the top order out, and seems there was only a couple of overs left, a night watchman was brought in. When it got to the final ball of the over, the batman would try to get a single each time so that in the next over he could keep strike and keep the night watchman off. Seems as they’re not the best at batting, that’s what they would do in a real game. So that was a very nice touch to the game. Clever!
With the good, comes the bad unfortunately, cut scenes before and during the game, such as the coin toss are hampered by frame rate issues. The game does stutter badly in these situations and I’m hoping that the game can be optimised to improve this. Please note that this doesn’t happen during the match and the playing experience isn’t hampered during play. Speaking of during play, there is one issue that again, I am hoping that can be patched and that is the fielders running for the ball. The players stutter across the pitch while the ball is rolling smoothly. This has cost of a number of runs as well as boundaries which could have been stopped if the player wasn’t stuttering. I don’t think that this is a frame rate issue, because if it was, the ball would stutter too, but it doesn’t, it rolls free and easy.
When batting (didn’t notice this while bowling and fielding), there are times where the crowd will flicker with a greyish block flashing over them, which can be offputting. I’ve noticed this at other times as well, so I know it’s not my screen, as I also noticed this in handheld too.
One other issue I noticed with the game was when it brings the hit wheel up to show your shots after getting to a milestone, they’re all based in the same area. I’m quite flexible with my approach to hitting the ball and play the field when it gets adapted, so my shots tend to go in different areas, but whenever the wheel came up to show my shots, it showed them all going back over the bowlers head, which I will admit, I do very rarely as I’m more likely to scuff the shot and hit it back at the bowler than I am to clear the boundary. Again, something else that needs patching.
The game as well suffers from very long load times, and I know this isn’t the only game to suffer from this and I know how resource heavy this game might be for the Switch, but surely this is something that can be looked at and improved upon along with all the other issues mentioned.
Speaking of handheld play, I have played a good amount of the game in handheld and docked, and I have to admit, I really enjoyed both, the only issue I had with handheld was how small the writing was on the screen and it looked quite cramped, so I couldn’t tell at times what shot I was really hitting. When docked, it was all nice and clear though, so once I knew where everything was, I was good for handheld without looking, just a matter of getting the timing down.
There is plenty to do in the game, there is an Ashes series to play, which will take you a decent amount of time to play through, it took me 2 evenings to play through one Ashes Test match. I like the fact that the game saves where you are, and you can come back to it later on. You can play as the men’s and woman’s teams and the game is fully licensed, which is a nice touch.
You can start a career with a player and play for 20 in game years, which again is a nice touch to get some longevity out of it, and there are more modes to play with T20 and ODI’s.
I know there are some points above that might worry some people, but I have to be honest, the actual gameplay of the game is superb, it’s just those bits in the cutscenes and the fielding issue that needs addressing.
If you’re a fan of Cricket, then I would recommend the game, the atmosphere, the presentation, it’s all brilliant. As mentioned, there’s just a couple of things that Big Ant Studios needs to tidy up.
I have asked for comment by Big Ant Studios about the issues with the game, whether I get a reply or not, remains to be seen, but if I do, I will update the review with the response. If they do get the issues fixed, I will also update the review to reflect this.
Recommended, but probably only Cricket fans would enjoy the Switch version while it’s currently in this state.