Cricket 22

Atmosphere is an oft-overlooked but hugely important element in viewing sports. The crowd attendance in the stadium, as well as the noise of thousands of fans shouting in unison, creates this atmosphere. For the players, the cheers and roars encourage them to do better, while silence or even boos have their own impact on the players’ mental state. A jam-packed roaring crowd adds monumental pressure, particularly for the home team, because their fans have huge expectations. For those watching the game on television (or on a streaming service), the roar of the crowd is also accompanied by a passionate play-by-play commentary.

So integrating a match atmosphere into a sports video game is critical in making that game feel authentic. In fact, a sports video game that does not have a good match atmosphere will feel dull. Whether it’s FIFA, tennis, or even WWE, match atmosphere plays a key role in players’ enjoyment of the game.

If we talk about cricket games specifically, match atmosphere has been neglected throughout the history of the sport. Even Big Ant Studios, currently the only studio making multiplatform cricket video games, has not given due attention to this all-important feature. Despite having vast improvements in gameplay, team licenses, and add-ons, Big Ant’s games can look a bit dull when you play matches with the A.I. consistently.

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As a matter of fact, the best use of match atmosphere in a cricket video game is in Brian Lara Cricket ’99 (by Codemasters), a game that was released more than two decades ago. EA Sports might proudly proclaim “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game,” but even they fell short in this department. EA Sports’ Cricket 2004 had virtually all the features of Brian Lara Cricket ’99, except the match atmosphere.

Let’s look at some of the things that make a cricket match atmosphere feel authentic. First of all, the Sub-Continent crowd noise is different than other parts of the cricketing world, including Australia, England, and New Zealand. In the Sub-Continent, there is a ravenous home-side pride, and a hush will fall over the crowd during key moments of the opponents’ play. When an opposition bowler takes a wicket or plays a shot for four or six runs, the home crowd stays virtually silent. In India and Pakistan especially, the home crowd goes to a pin-drop silence. On the other hand, the Sri-Lankan crowd usually beats horns and drums throughout the entire match.

English and Australian fans are much more welcoming to the guest teams in terms of clapping and enjoying the match. This part of the world claps and appreciates the opposition as well as the home team compared to the Sub-Continent crowd. These are two very different cultural behaviors, and video-game developers need to pay attention to this aspect of the game if they want to make an authentic cricket simulation.

Cricket 22

And then there’s the situational play-by-play commentary, preferably done by a renowned commentary team. If you look at Cricket 22 specifically, It features a star-heavy commentary team. Moreover, there are definite improvements with play-by-play commentary integration, but this aspect still needs work to really feel authentic to the situation. Moreover, the commentary lines are still a lot less varied than what we expect in this day and age. The analysis and general conversations between commentators are missing, though this was a very much part of Ashes Cricket 2009, International Cricket 2010, and, of course Brian Lara Cricket ’99.

I believe that a cricket game needs energetic voices to add more flair and excitement to matches. Representation from all-important cricketing nations for commentary would be a huge treat for the world of cricket gamers. Commentators like Naseer Hussain (England), Ravi Shastri (India), and Ian Smith (New Zeland) would instill a lot of energy into the game. Trust me, with this caliber of commentary, the experience would change altogether.

In nutshell, authentic crowd noises based on the respective playing nations and situational-based energetic play-by-play commentary can play a huge role in making a cricket game feel closer to a real cricket match. Imagine Jasprit Bumrah (India) crushing the middle stump of a batsman with an accurate in-swinging yorker and the Indian crowd uproars, powered by an energetic commentary voice to celebrate that big wicket, or an inswinging middle and leg delivery by Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan), which ends up in a big LBW shout that is supported by the roaring crowd and a commentator. Oh, what impact that would create!

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I think that Big Ant Studios is more focused on add-ons and career mode than match atmosphere, but since they’ve been really good about listening to fan feedback, my fingers are crossed for their next cricket title. If they can nail the match atmosphere, on top of all the other things they’ve been doing right, we cricket fans could really be in for a treat.

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