Cricket 22

For almost a decade now, Big Ant’s Cricket video games have been delighting cricket fans around the globe. Big Ant’s latest installment is Cricket 22, which released across multiple platforms and is still getting graphical and gameplay improvements based on fan feedback. The game is enjoyable and has virtually all the necessary ingredients to make it a good video game, such as career mode enhancements, custom tournaments, and enhanced player and team editors. Such features add value to any sports game. After all, the more customization you offer players, the better they can fine-tune the game to their own preferences.

However, even with modern tech, cricket video games still fail to deliver an authentic match-like experience. Why is this?

For any sports video game — be it football, tennis, basketball, baseball, or cricket — the authentic feel rests on the back of two critical elements:

  1. Core gameplay mechanics
  2. Live match atmosphere

For this article, I’m going to focus on core gameplay mechanics, and I’ll save live match atmosphere for another time. No matter how many back-of-the-box features a game piles on, the core gameplay will make or break the entire experience.

Cricket 22

When we talk about the core mechanics of cricket from a gameplay standpoint, we can separate them into two major categories: batting and the bowling. You could argue that there’s a third supportive category: the broadcast-style camera angle that creates the vibe of watching a televised cricket match, though I would make the case that this would fall under the match atmosphere.

Big Ant Studios has made breakthroughs in both bowling animations and camera angles for Cricket 22. There are different physics and spins based on a bowler’s skillset. Some bowlers can only do outswings, and others can do both inswings and outswings. Some are yorker specialists, others have a more ordinary bowling style.

Motion-capture technology has done wonders for the game’s bowling animations for some of the licensed bowlers, like Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jofra Archer, and Tim Southee (just to name a few). These bowling animations have been painstakingly accurate, lending some authenticity to these motions.

Batting animations, on the other hand, are far more challenging to pull off accurately. Bowling has a predefined rhythm and style to it, while batting has a huge variety of shots — which varies greatly from batter to batter. The textbook cover drive of Babar Azam (Pakistan) is a treat to watch, while the sharply timed cover drive of Virat Kohli (India) has a completely different flair. The movements and shot selections are completely different for the two batters, which means different signature animations for each batsman. But to make a cricket game feel authentic, developers really need to put in this work.

Cricket 22

Currently, batting animations still lack the precision and smoothness that would really make Cricket 22 feel like a dream cricket simulation. There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to batting stance, shot variety, and shot selection. In fact, I would argue that Brian Lara Cricket ’99 has more realistic batting animations than Cricket 22, despite the fact that BLC99 came out more than two decades ago. Even now, watching batting gameplay in BLC99 gives me chills.

Tennis fans love to see players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with their signature serve and forehand/backhand shots. WWE fans enjoy seeing the Rock implement a Rock Bottom, or the Undertaker perform a signature Chokeslam. Similarly, cricket fans want to play with signature shots from Babar Azam, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, and Kane Williamson.

Cricket 22

I dream of a future where cricket games reach the level of authenticity that fans crave. I know it’s hard to pull of for a sport that has limited economies, but I have faith that game developers will eventually achieve it — that will be a breakthrough for cricket video games.

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