With the first test of the Ashes series fast approaching, Big Ant Studios’ Cricket 22 has hit the shelves with plenty of excitement and expectation around the new game.
After a delayed release, we finally have our hands on the game and got to see the new gameplay in action for the very first time.
So, what has Big Ant Studios done differently this time around, and more importantly, why should you buy it?
We started off where all novice cricket gamers should start, in the tutorial. There has been no new cricket games for a while, so we thought it best to get back into the swing of things and learn the new controls.
Straight away whacking Josh Hazlewood over the leg side for six with Joe Root was, whilst satisfying, met with a bit of a telling-off from new commentator Mel Jones having been asked to play defensively towards cover!
Root and a left-handed Haseeb Hameed (must be a new technique!) are then walked through the various batting techniques in a brisk and breezy batting tutorial that gets the job done.
The same goes for the bowling tutorials with James Anderson, as there does not appear to be much change in the way of controls for either discipline in the game.
Fielding is where things have been made a little more difficult, so we would certainly recommend completing the fielding tutorials.
The new direct hit mechanic looks to be an exciting addition, although we have already conceded enough overthrows for an entire Ashes series.
Rage quit alert
As we headed into our first match after the tutorial, confidence was high. We had smashed Hazlewood around the park and were ready to get stuck into the Aussie bowlers for real.
Our mood somewhat changed after a first-ball duck for Joe Root and a failed review.
However, the game gave us some sort of saving grace as it appeared to freeze, leaving us no choice but to quit and try again.
We hope this second attempt is a sign of things to come as England's top three scored some runs! Playing as Joe Root, we entered the fray at 104-2.
However, we didn’t fare much better in our second attempt with just two runs on the board before being clean bowled by Mitchell Starc.
A stunning 138 not out from Dawid Malan set up a 148 run win for England (after another failure from us as Joe Root in the second innings) in what we hope can be replicated at The Gabba!
This is the first cricket game ever to be available on next-gen consoles, so obviously, there will be enhancements.
Loading speed is a huge plus, especially for cricket games which can take a while anyway due to the nature of the sport.
Graphics are noticeably improved as you'd expect, with player likenesses much better than ever before.
Add in the newly licensed tournaments like the Big Bash League and The Hundred, and it really is a brilliant-looking game.
It is not all just for show though, as the gameplay feels smoother and more controlled.
The basic elements of the gameplay haven't changed all that much, but there are marked improvements to the feel of the game as you whack balls out of the park (or see your middle stump cartwheeling).
Into Career Mode we head next, and safe to say our first experience of the game is already head and shoulders above anything we have seen from a cricket game before.
Straight away the cut scenes with coaches and options for perks just create an aura around the game that we haven’t felt before.
It feels like everything you do means something, like there is a developing story behind the scenes and each choice you make is leading you down a different path.
Combine the immersive feel of the career with the improved gameplay and Big Ant Studios are on to a winner!
With the game only out today, we are looking forward to getting further into our Career Mode and seeing where it takes us...
Our next steps into Career Mode took us into the gym, where mini-games can improve (and harm) your on-field performance.
Once again this feels like an addition that really brings something extra to the game mode, so you'll find us spending plenty of time in the gym.
One key area of any Career Mode is time, but Cricket 22 seems to have blended all its new features nicely with the cricketing aspect to create a nice flow that doesn't feel like a chore.
No matches available
One of the aspects of the game we were most looking forward to trying out was online, as Big Ant Studios Director of Development Mike Merren explained there had been a revamp.
So far we have been unable to find a match online, but it is still early days and we will review that part of the game as soon as we are able to.
Big Ant Studios has certainly delivered the best cricket game ever.
Classic games like Brian Lara International Cricket are beloved for their retro feel, but Cricket 22 will be loved by cricket fans for actually being a good cricket game!
Each ball is an event, and it is not like previous games where you know exactly what is coming.
The unpredictability of the bowler means as a batsman you must concentrate, just like if you were out in the middle yourself.
Combine this intelligent gameplay with the graphics, licenses, and new features in the Career Mode, and this game will not let you down.
RealSport Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
We have reviewed Cricket 22 on PS5.