International Cricket Captain 2015: Review
Football fans throng the world of gaming in much more numbers than cricket fans. This is, of course, due to the abundance of sports management simulation games that are available in football. Cricket games, such as of the EA Sports series or the Brian Lara Cricket series, have consistently failed to provide a challenging enough gameplay.
This is where the International Cricket Captain series – made by London-based developers Childish Things – comes to the rescue of fans who thirst for a cricket management game. The game lets users step into the shoes of a captain/manager of the side, with responsibilities being to manage all affairs of the team and to determine the on-field approach of each individual player of the team.
After being given the helm of an international team, or a domestic team from India, England or Australia, or an IPL team, the monetary decisions and selection matters that need to be dealt with within the game can give sleepless nights, potential gamers be warned.
International Cricket Captain 2015, the most evolved version in the series yet, has the feature of Indian domestic cricket as its most important addition. It also has updated information on all players in the game’s vast statistical database, with one additional useful statistic made available – career stats for each international player against each country.
There is also a marked improvement in 3D graphics, giving the latest version a far slicker look than its predecessors.
Where Cricket Captain beats other cricket management games hands down, and where this latest version outscores the ones that came before it, however, is the match engine it offers. A departure from the usual low AI cricket game, the situations that are brought about in the game are very like real-life cricket matches.
There are more boundaries in the T20 format by default, and the longer formats are well paced. There are shifts in momentum in the course of matches, with real-time strategies applied at crucial junctures deciding the outcome of matches.
The engine has been updated to better reflect the aggressive cricket of the modern era, throwing up fantastic results that mirror real life in an unpredictable way, such that old Cricket Captain games would not have been able to manage.
Batsmen go through patches of good form and bad form and need time accordingly to settle down in a particular innings before hitting their shots. What is quite amazing is that the strength and weakness of each currently playing batsman (and some retired stars) are computed into the game’s code, to determine how well or badly he will play against a particular kind of bowling – spin bowling from round the wicket, for instance.
In my personal experience while managing the game’s Bengal team, I was amused to discover that a few of the players often suffered from illnesses common to the region and had to be dropped from matches – either a minor coincidence or a rather clever detail that makes the gameplay authentic.
Another reason why International Cricket Captain 2015 is as authentic as cricket games get is the detailed statistics it has on around 5000 players, not to mention the salaries they demand. It also has the precise fixture lists of every international and domestic team in the world synced with ICC’s official calendar.
As a result of the vast statistics that the game comes with, it can also serve as a personal database for cricket records, in the highly doubtful instance that playing the game does not provide a particular user with sufficient stimulation.
For instance, a number as obscure as Madhya Pradesh batsman Mohnish Mishra’s batting average in 2012/13 can be found here. A list of India’s highest ever run scorers, arranged in descending order, can also be found here.
It is not that there is no scope for improvement in the International Cricket Captain series. Too many decisions in the game need to be based purely on numbers. An objective player progression system and a player satisfaction bar are among things that can be considered.
One other major failing of the game is that a manager cannot be sacked, nor can he change teams in the middle of his career. There can easily be a feature introduced where the manager’s seasonal performance is rated – in accordance with trophies won, youth development or such things – and his reputation be accordingly calculated every season.
International Cricket Captain 2015 is already thoroughly engaging, incessantly riveting and something that can give light and purpose to one’s life, and how this series of games develops will be interesting to see – now that it has sufficiently established itself as the future of cricket management games for PC.
Overall Rating: 8.9/10
A video trailer of the series: