Coming from a team from the sport’s spiritual homeland, India, Cricket World Cup Fever starts nicely enough. There’s a free demo available, and on downloading that you’re presented with a 3D sportsground and character models that rival the quality of the likes of the excellent NHL 2K11.
|Looks good, doesn't it?|
In that demo you’ll get to bat for three overs. It’s a simple, intuitive and even elegant system – swipe in the direction you’d like to swing the bat. Swipe at the right time and you’ll hit the ball. The better the timing, the better the hit, and the more runs you can make.
The demo finishes after those three hours of batting, and it is indeed encouraging to purchase the entire game – there’s a wide range of teams on offer (including some of the lesser teams such as Kenya), there’s the promise of multiplayer options and both one-day matches and the longer test match cricket to enjoy.
So it looks good, there’s the tantalising promise of a whole lot of gameplay options, and about now you’re thinking it’s finally time for the iPad to be graced with a genuinely good cricket game.
But if you do make that in-app purchase, you’ll quickly find the initial impression is an illusion, and the reality is that Cricket World Cup Fever is actually a very poor game.
The problem starts in the bowling. Touch and drag is used to select the place on the pitch where the ball will go, but it’s an unresponsive system to the point of unplayability. Instead of selecting a variety of different bowling lengths and strategies to try and catch the batsman out (like what happens in a real cricket game), it’s easier just to struggle the cursor to the first half-decent position on the pitch, and leave it there for the rest of the game.
|Pity it doesn't play well. :-(|
The speed of the bowling is determined by tapping a bar before it goes over a red line (which causes a “no ball” and gives the opponent a free run). Fine system in theory, but in practice the delay between tapping the screen and the movement of the bar stopping is huge. It’s impossible to be precise with this kind of lag, and in turn, adds another layer of frustration to the bowling experience.
Off the pitch, the small budget this game struggled with is evident in spades. There is no official license, just approximations of names, which immediately relegates a sports game to ‘B Grade’ status.
On the pitch, there is a definite difference in strength between teams, and possibly players. These stats are never shown anywhere, though – a weird first that makes selecting teams and players an awkward experience.
We could go on, but after such an enjoyable demo, the full Cricket World Cup Fever experience is disappointingly pedestrian. Despite some genuinely broken bowling controls, it’s still better than Ashes Cricket, but sadly cricket remains an underrepresented sport in videogame format.