After a well-meaning yet ultimately disappointing change into the super-powered, swashbuckling of 2018’s Big Bash Boom, Big Ant Studios has made a confident return to the more traditional cricket game wrinkle with Cricket 19.
Using the core engine and feature set of 2017’s Ashes Cricket as a base, Cricket 19 breathes life into its performance, smartens up its AI. It bolts on a compelling new scenario mode, helping it look and feel more authentic than a broken-in baggy green, complete with a few frayed edges.
Thus all the real men’s and women’s squads from the two countries remain, although it has dropped the Ashes brand from it’s Moniker. Cricket 19 is still the licensed game of this year’s contest between Australia and England.
In the 2019 series, joining the existing Australian grounds from Ashes Cricket is the five English grounds featured. Each of them realized with convincing detail from the vibrant red slab that is the point at Old Traffod, right down to the father Time wind vane that’s perched high above loards. There’s been an apparent effort to give matches played in Cricket 19 a better sense of occasion, elevating them above the slightly hygienic affairs found in Ashes Cricket.
International contests open with National Anthems, Covers are wheeled off the pitch before play, centuries are celebrated with more energy, and captains console their bowlers after being dispatched to the boundary. Additionally, with a frame rate that often runs slower than a Chris Gayle single, the highlight reels that screen at the end of the innings bring a new level of authenticity to the broadcast presentation.
AI behavior in Cricket 19
The AI seems to have significantly improved matched – awareness in cricket 19, Although admittedly, it’s the most observable thing on the equation’s batting side. Computer-controlled batsmen will take singles off the last ball of an over to keep the strike when they are out in the middle with a tail-ender, and if the run rate required during a chase get up over double figures, they are very much inclined to hit the gas and swing for the fences.
As a result, it feels gratifying to build up an over of dot balls against the AI and then knock them over when they try an incredible shot in an attempt to manufacture a boundary. However, improvements to AI bowling are more of a mixed bag. While the computer does seem to bowl to a plan at times, sending down a series of out-swingers before bowling a full one on your pads, for example, it can still get caught in a rut such as consistently bowling short stuff despite being tried repeatedly to the boundary.
Still, on balance, Cricket 19’s AI behavior is undoubtedly far more energetic than the one-dimensional computer-controlled previous games’ rivals. A new perk system adds a deeper layer to player customization in the career mode, yet the career mode itself lasts for up to 20 in-game years. The new scenario mode could last your real lifetime. Suppose you want to recreate a classic match history or develop an entirely new challenge of your own, like everything else in the game. In that case, scenarios can be created, tweaked, and shared among the community, and the possibilities are near endless.
The catch is that setting up these scenarios is quite tricky and time-consuming. But like with any of the game’s custom content, you can take advantage of others’ hard work.
And pull in scenarios from the community if you are feeling lazy. I wish it were a little easier to work out what each community created strategy was at a glance.
In the history of Big Ant’s cricket game output, Cricket 19 arrives as the most fully-formed of the lot at launch, but that is not to say it is not entirely without its issues. Player uniforms glitch, Hot spot replays can be over-exposed, out-swinging deliveries have the odd habit of coming off inside edges, and Michael Slater’s commentary can be inaccurate at times.
But despite the fact, Cricket 19’s presentation and gameplay may feature more distracting niggles than an Australian slip cordo. It is still the closest to the real thing that a cricket game has ever been. Scenario mode is a welcome insertion in terms of the almost limitless replayability it provides. And substantial improvements to the AI make games against the computer feel physically exciting.
Cricket 19 could shine with a bit more post-release polish. Here is hoping the developers use spit and not sandpaper.