Ashes Cricket 2009 - PS3 Let's start with the technical stuff. The game runs on 720p. I was slightly disappointed with this, I think it's great to utilize all the resources available to a game. I kind of expected it, seeing how the game looked on the PC. The PS3 version comes with several trophies. Ashes Cricket 2009 Trophy List - PS3 Trophies Forum Some are harder than others, but really it all depends what difficulty setting you have the game at. Put it on Easy and it'll be a sinch, put it on Hard, and you'll have to work for them. The graphics in the game are okay. Some of the animations look quite nice, but it just doesn't feel like a next-gen game. The stadiums look good, but graphics aren't always that high on peoples agenda on what constitutes a good game, especially in a series where the focus on gameplay has been poor. The ball itself reminds me of those lovely orange training balls I used to smack around the garden. The broadcasting tools like Hawkeye and 3D spider graphs look good, though it would be nice to be able to manually look at these features. First thing I did upon starting the game was choosing my theme. You can select a theme for the game, one for each country, this is pretty identical to what we've had done by our patchers before, I wonder if that is where the idea came from? I then jumped in to the Ashes Legends mode. It's a bit of a play area, I just about had the patience to complete this mode. It has a bowling, batting and fielding set of skills to master. Fielding is very short, as you don't have much to do in the game. It's quite simple, and you'll rattle through it. Right, let's get to what matters. Cricket! My first match was England (me) vs South Africa on Normal in South Africa. I batted first and quickly got bored at how easy it was to score runs once settled, could easily score at 8 an over. Both Easy and Normal mode are the arcade versions of the game, for the casual gamer who wants a pick up and slog cricket game. So I swiftly moved on to an Ashes series, on Hard. I lost the toss and they opted to bat first. After 15 overs, I was in dream land. It all seemed brilliant, I'd had Hughes caught in the gully trying to drive a ball from Sidebottom. Australia were 32-1. I then got Katich out, trying to drive Flintoff, he got caught at cover by a wonderful catch from Collingwood. After the wicket of Katich, things went insane. Clarke came in and went aggressive, as did Ponting, once Ponting got out, which was after two quick boundaries, but he felt so aggressive, even from four balls. Hussey continued. Suddenly from them going at about 3 an over, the run rate soon jumped to 7 an over and it felt like I was playing a T20. I wasn't bowling badly, I strayed a couple of times, and when you do the AI goes insane. Although bad balls get put away in real cricket, it didn't feel right, Clarke got to his 50 in 24 balls, Hussey got 26 from 12 balls. After this burst, I brought on Swann, and I found the magic delivery in the game, which we always get in cricket games which will result in a wicket. AI Right handers simply cannot play the off spinner. They will play a back foot cut shot, and get LBW and bowled very easily. In contrast, AI left handers play the off spinner so aggressively and perfect, that I was getting very confused. At the end of their innings, Swann had figures of 5-92, at 7.26 rpo. I'll attach pictures of their batting card and my bowling card. I know he has 3 tailenders there, but even a proper No11 would not play a shot like that, I got the same results in later matches. Batting vs the AI. The batting system is very good. You can score in any area. I have had trouble with scoring through mid-wicket off the front foot, I sometimes get some very strange animations, which leave me bowled. Despite pressing the front foot button, it's a back foot shot. Driving the ball through covers is hard, I've been caught plenty of times trying to do it, but it is very rewarding to see the ball hit that boundary rope! The difficulty of the shot varies on the length too, get a ball back of a length and you try to drive it, your timing window is small, if it's a half volley, you have more time. It's quite easy to be beaten by pace when trying to drive, although this is only for fast bowlers, fast medium bowlers are quite easy to pick off. The most infuriating part of this game, is how random the AI can be. I've touched upon it there. Just tonight I started another Ashes test, and in the 2nd over, they didn't have any slips. It also lacks any intelligence at times, yet can be clever at others. It will happily bowl an over of 5-6 bouncers, which are fairly easy to dispatch, especially off of a fast medium. I found a big flaw here too, no option to duck the ball. Which means you always have to play the ball, which if you are against someone like Steyn who can hit 98mph, you can easily top edge it to the keeper. I feel like I've missed the option to duck, somewhere, but it's not in the manual or on the HUD batting guide. That is disappointing. Other times the AI will move fielders to where you are scoring, but I've often found that it will keep bowling in the same areas though. One major disappointment from batting, was that leaving the ball caused the batting confidence meter to drop ever so slightly. This was prevalent in BLIC 07 and was a major annoyance within the game to many users. From what I remember of that problem, this time around it seems to affect the confidence meter less. I had scored 32 from 64 with Cook, and 7 from 45 with Strauss. Except Strauss had twice the confidence of Cook. The bowling system is a well implemented part of the game. You can get a lot of variations, and these can be bowled based on a bowlers skill, confidence and even fatigue. I like the ability to change the delivery based on what button you press. So, if I start off with a outswinger, I can turn it in to a slow ball, in-swinger or straight one. This could be deadly on-line! The inability to bowl at most bowlers proper speed, is a poor contribution to this side of the game. Anderson feels so non-threatening bowling at low 70s. It is a put off. Apart from that you can use a guide to tell you when you can bowl a particular delivery. If Swann isn't high on confidence then he can't bowl the doosra. By using this preview guide, it will tell you why you can't bowl a certain delivery, with reverse swing deliveries, It will be because the ball hasn't been worn enough. Another issue I found with bowling, was the bowlers stamina. My best example was playing against New Zealand and Iain O'Brien's stamina bar was "weary" after 3 overs! My ODI experiences show AI pacing to be quite poor. (I'll post a picture later). Scoring 270 odd with England, New Zealand were all out for 159 in under 24 overs. Swann took 5-47 from 4.4 overs. I got 3 runouts in this match, I don't know if this was more likely to happen because of the "chase" or just because the bug is still quite bad. Run-outs. Yes they are here, nothing like as suicidal as it was in the demo. But their fix has created other problems. On two occasions (once in the New Zealand ODI) one batsman ran, the other didn't. You can see they are a lot more cautious about running, I've also had them hit a ball down to long off, a comfortable three, yet the AI failed to run, at all. This does seem a problem down to this area. By fixing one problem, they seem to have induced others, which can happen when fixing something like this within a game. T20s are quite good. Field placings by the AI are pretty much spot on, but I didn't face many yorkers. The AI seemed to do well with pacing their innings in this format. Same with ODI's for yorkers, I didn't get many. Those of you that enjoy T20s and ODI's, I think this game is good at it, on the whole. Though the AI isn't perfect, and you will ask why, a lot of times. Edges. These are plenty in the game, but a lot of them just die off the bat and barely reach halfway to the slips, you still get slip catches, but nothing like as often as they should be. They travel exponentially further off the fast bowlers, like Steyn, Flintoff, etc, but seem to go nowhere off the Fast-Medium bowlers like Anderson, Broad, etc. Which brings me on to my next point. Bowling Speeds. These are absolutely awful. For something which should be implemented quite well, and easily too. They've managed to achieve a very amateur finish to the game, it feels half-finished. Flintoff is quite good, the spinners seem good too. Some of the fast bowlers seem too quick. I don't remember Steyn bowling 98mph. Medium paced bowlers, like Collingwood, will rattle it through at 55mph. The same speed as a spinner, how does that work? Anderson bowling in the mid 70s takes a lot away from the game, as well. I haven't been able to try out this game on-line, which is disappointing. I suspect it could be excellent on-line, because it removes the AI element. It's something I look forward to testing over the next few days as people start getting the game. A big part of the Ashes Series, which the game completely fails to achieve, is stat tracking. This is a relatively basic feature and should be in the game. I want to know who my best bowler is going in to the last match, if it's 2-2! I will probably end up recording data like this on to a spreadsheet, I can see others doing it, but we shouldn't be doing it. It just seems so obvious to include it as a part of the game. Especially as some of the trophies on the PS3 involve scoring 500 runs in a series, or taking 40 wickets in a series. If the game can track this to work as a trophy (which I haven't tested, so hopefully it works!), it could easily do it for a stat tracker. The player editor is quite limiting. There aren't many facial changes you can make to the players, but skills ability is limited too. According to the manual, you can increase the points available to players - excluding England and Australia players, their skill ratings aren't changeable, which is frustrating, for a start Luke Wright can bowl at about 60mph in the game, and Andrew Flintoff is rated a better batsman than Andrew Strauss - by exemplary play. This includes scoring runs, hitting boundaries, timing the ball, taking wickets and catching the ball. A more open editor, would be a lot more appreciated. You can unlock various items throughout the game. This includes part of the kit bag, like gloves, pads, bats, etc. These can be unlocked by breaking various world records. You can unlock some stadiums by simple things like bowling a side out in a test match, or just completing a game of cricket. Others are more complex, wining the Ashes unlocks Lord's, for instance. Unlocking everything in the game could take a while on hard mode. So, what does Ashes Cricket 2009 give you? A solid batting system, it is enjoyable to bat in this game on hard mode. It also gives you an infuriatingly random AI. It will go from clever, to idiotic in an over. The game is enjoyable, but it has some big flaws which to me are because the game feels rushed. I think this is obvious from a release date in the middle of the series they are the official game of, as well as things like bowling speeds and a lack of a stat tracker. I like the game, but it can very easily make me hate it, as the AI will become bad in test matches, and it has made me stop playing the game when it does. I hope Codemasters and Transmission Games pull together to patch this game on all platforms, as it could change the game a lot, getting rid of some of the errors like bowling speeds, would improve the game a lot. Touching up the AI, etc. We've not had a simulated cricket game patched by the developer since EA's Cricket 2002. The users who buy the game for the PC, can not only get a cheaper game, but also have the potential to mod the game, which would mean that even if we don't get an official patch, we might get some clever patchers to improve the squads, and possibly the AI. A lot of people have been saying, this is the best game since BLC '99. My opinion on this changes all the time. It feels like the game isn't complete in some areas, in others it's very enjoyable. The standard of recent cricket games has been very poor, Ashes Cricket 09 could be the start of a good series of cricket games from a new developer. You get the good with the bad, and that is why I give the game 68%.