Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stick Cricket vs Beach Cricket - The Definitive Guide Part 1

In Part 1 of our "Definitive Guide" to the most popular online cricket games and popular sources for procrastination, we turn our beady eyes to the newcomer. Therefore, in the blue corner stands the challenger - the newly launched XXXX Gold Beach Cricket.

Any new generation of a particular game will always be technologically better than the previous generation, ie. the graphics in EA Sport's Cricket 2007 are far better than what we were treated to in Cricket 2005. XXXX Gold Beach Cricket follows this rule and the 3D graphics definitely seem a lot more impressive than 2D players. Then again, a game called stick cricket couldn't really introduce 3D animation now, could it?

Speaking of graphics, I could not quite figure out if the graphical artists were trying to be quirky or whether they were trying to display their lack of knowledge about the differences between conventional cricket and beach cricket, eg. the stumps seem unusually large and unusually wide compared to the actual players and the umpires wear black belts with traditional black office shoes, whilst the players are decked out in over sized kits representing their country. One would imagine that singlets would have been donned by conventional beach cricketers, however, in the online version they wear distasteful over sized polos.

Having said this, the game's designers must be given generous applause for incorporating traditional Hawaiian dancing girls into the gameplay. If you hit the ball long enough on to the on side, you will be treated to beautiful women - of the animated variety.

The actual gameplay was disappointing for me. Everything depends on the player's timing with no license to choose where you wish to tonk the ball. You have the option of moving around the crease to line yourself up with the direction of the ball, but that is it. The computer will decide the path of the ball, after it leaves your bat, on its own.

Having said that, the 3D graphics make for some stunning visuals. In addition to the aforementioned dancing girls, the game incorporates typical beach/backyard cricket style one-handed catches and full-length diving catches that every kid has tried to pull off while playing on the beach and even attempts that Ricky Ponting himself would be proud of.

XXXX Gold Beach Cricket is a valiant effort by the developers to put together a package which can be easily differentiated from its competitor. I understand this is not a serious gaming product and should not be viewed as such, however, after conquering the various nuances of Stick Cricket, I felt ripped off after playing Beach Cricket. Almost as if I had not got my money's worth.

Trust me, that is not the feeling you want to be leaving with if you've just played a free game of online cricket. Try it for yourselves and let us know how you think it stacks up to the competition.

Also see: Part 0 | Part 1 | Part 2 (coming very soon)

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