I enjoy a spot of cricket myself, knocking a ball around the park with chums on summer afternoons, but have never played a cricket video game. Seeing that a demo for Don Bradman Cricket 14 arrived on Steam yesterday, I thought I'd not only share that news with the awfully English RPS readership but have a crack myself. Grabbing the only controller I have at hand, I launched into it and, er, felt like a horrible old Luddite mumbling "It's not much like cricket, is it?"
It's not meant to be, of course. Like FIFA, Madden, and all those other sports games, Don Bradman Cricket 14 is nothing like the experience of playing the sport. It doesn't feel like standing on grass, testing the weight of the bat, practising strokes, catching the bowler's eye and sharing a smile then they charge up and let loose and you watch the ball dance and reach back and swing.
No, we're the insufferable sort of spectator who knows what players should do better than they themselves do, the kind of chuffing great fool who'll sit 100 metres away jeering that the batsman should've knocked that ball for six, as if they made a conscious decision to let it hit their wicket. But in Don Bradman Cricket 14 we are that jerk, blessed with the magical ability to force our will upon players. Leave that ball! Belt that one! No, not like that you idiot!
In my short, frustrating visit, I mostly missed balls in the nets. That said, I did immensely enjoy the jeers of "Ayyy! Howzaat!" and "Azzaaa!" and "AAAAAAA!" when the bowling machine got me out.
I like to think I'm an acceptable batter (unless it's a slow ball, in which case I'll inevitably watch it drift under my bat) but I didn't hit a single ball over several minutes in the nets. But that's fine. The demo has numbers too. Lots of teams and lots of players and lots of stats and lots of fielding patterns and lots of tour schedules and lots of all of those sorts of things. Not following professional cricket, it meant little to me.
Don Bradman Cricket 14, then, is not a demo I would recommend to casual cricketers. If you've lived this long without playing a cricket video game, it's probably not for you. If you do like cricket video games, however, I suspect this may have all the sorts of things you expect from such a thing. It seems very sports video game-y. That's probably good? I suspect Don Bradman himself--born 1908 and died 2001--might be baffled too. The full game will launch on June 26.
It also has a character creator too. I tried making myself. It could've gone worse: