Cricket, that sport created in England, with arcane rules and taken as their own by the former colonies, particularly India. In the video game world, the games have had more ups than downs but have never been as popular as FIFA or the American sports games. Despite that, the games have found an audience and are definitely fun, even for the casual gamer – despite the vagaries of the LBW rule and the nuances to the rules between different formats.
Big Ant, developer of the well-received Cricket 19, has finally released a sequel. Although Cricket 19 was a good game, one updated well into this late-2021 release, it felt like a budget game. Cricket 22 has more modes and a few more licenses included, including competitions like The Big Bash. However, it’s still not a feature-complete game the same way FIFA or Madden are, in terms of being officially licensed and including all the current players. It is billed as the “Official Game of the Ashes”, so at least the England and Australian teams are fully licensed and every player represented.
Not being a fully-licensed game is a disappointment but, like many resourceful smaller devs, Big Ant has worked around this by allowing community-created updates to the game. Available for download at launch, these allow you to update the roster with the latest teams and players. While never as accurate or desirable as officially licensed teams, it is a decent workaround for dedicated fans.
An expanded career mode is available and makes a welcome return. While not nearly as fully featured as the modes on offer in the bigger sports franchises, it is a mode that keeps you interested and offers considerable longevity. Building your player up through the lower tiers, while taking the time to improve your skills via regular training sessions, is a satisfying experience. Once you get that call up to represent the international squad, you still get that sensation of having accomplished the impossible.
The game is the first one to be released on the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles but, graphically, it doesn’t look like it. This may be due to the oft-cited criticism of cross-gen games being held back by weaker consoles but, to be fair to Big Ant, the relative lack of global popularity of cricket – both as a sport and as a video game – probably resulted in a decidedly AA budget instead of the AAA budgets that bigger sports IPs can attract. Character models look decidedly last-gen and although stadiums look like their real-world counterparts, the crowds look like low-res cardboard cutouts. Thankfully, players are more detailed and not copy-paste models with different skin tones.
Performance-wise, the game runs smoothly on the PS5 but don’t expect any graphical options in the menu, let alone a “quality mode” to take advantage of the console’s ray-tracing power. The game has one mode, probably the performance mode, and while we don’t get any of the options we’ve come to expect in modern games on modern consoles, at least Cricket 22 runs smoothly and without any framerate, or graphical, hitches.
Mechanically, Cricket 22 can start off as an obtuse, technical nightmare – just like the real thing! Fortunately, Big Ant has thought of this and for newcomers (or the more casual gamer) there is a simpler batting mechanic that you can choose. This mechanic allows you to choose your shots using one of the face buttons. It is maybe a little too simple for some and, after a few hours, I switched back to the “expert” control scheme that requires a player to time their shots as well as get their footwork just right in order to pull off that perfect shot. It’s very much a control scheme made for the purist, as well as the gamer who wants to test their skills.
On the bowling front, the control scheme will be familiar to anyone who’s played a golf game as you have to time your release against a bar that moves up and down to get the perfect release. A new addition is aftertouch – a system that allows you to add late swing or take advantage of pitch conditions to get some movement on the bounce to try and outfox the batsman. It does require a deft touch and near-perfect timing, but when you get it right it can lead to some spectacular results.
The last element to touch on is fielding. It’s relatively simple: pick an end to throw to and decide if you want to risk trying to hit the stumps, risking a misfield and overruns; or throw it first to another player, reducing the possibility of a run-out but also the possibility of extra runs.
Overall, Cricket 22 is a game that will serve you well should you get the itch to try your hand at beating the all-conquering Indian team (well, all-conquering until recently) on their traditionally rough pitches. If you want a longer journey, career mode is a good choice and a decent attempt at adding considerable longevity. Unfortunately, the bland commentary and dated graphics make the audio-visual experience less exciting. For my money, the game is a good addition to your library if you’re a cricket fan – probably best played when you just want a sports game to while away a few hours on a rainy weekend afternoon.
Cricket 22 (PS5) ReviewCricket 22 (PS5) Review
Ease of Play7/10 Good
- A good cricket sim
- Career mode adds longevity
- Community-created updates
- Probably the best (and only) cricket game available
- Graphically last-gen
- Poor commentary and sound design