Brian Lara Cricket 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of this long running series that was 1st released on the Sega Mega Drive way back in 1995. Making its comeback after 5 long years, this game is a worthy addition to this series.

The game features 3 modes; Exhibition, Tournament and Challenge.

In Exhibition mode you can choose to play a one day, test or double wicket game against a friend or the CPU.

In Tournament mode you can play real life events like the ICC (International Cricket Council) World Cup, the ICC World XI series, ICC Champions Trophy, play a fictional tournament in Custom League etc.

In Challenge mode you can choose a team and go against a world XI team or rewrite the history of cricket, as we know it. What happens is in this mode is that you will be given a famous match from history and then you can choose whether you want to repeat history by achieving the same result as the match did when it was really played or change the course of history by changing the outcome of the match. For example you can play the 1st test that gave birth to the famous Ashes Test Series between England and Australia and decide the outcome of the game. In the original game that was played in 1882 Australia won so you can also play as Australia and try to win the game again or play as England and try to defeat Australia.

One cool effect that has been added to this mode is that when you’re playing these old matches the graphics turn to black & white and lines start appearing on the screen giving you an impression that you are really watching & playing the match on an old tv.

You can also practice your bowling or batting in The Nets. Unfortunately there is no tutorial mode in this game so you will have to discover all the different batting shots and balls that you can bowl in the nets or while playing a match.

You can also check out your unlocks & rewards in the Pavilion. Unlocks in the game include classic players like Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan, Ian Healy etc, pictures from different matches and trophies. All of this content can be unlocked by playing the challenge and tournament modes and breaking cricketing records held by different players.

Sadly, the game has no online modes what so ever so don’t expect to play matches against cricket fans from around the world.

There is also a wealth of customization options in the game. You can choose how many overs will be bowled in a match, the time of the match, the weather, the pitch, the color of the ball etc. For the match itself you can choose one of the 14 existing teams or create your own squad. While creating your own squad you can add any player you like regardless of their country. Hardcore cricket fans will love this option as this gives them a chance to create their own dream team.

The best thing about the game has to be its gameplay. It’s fast and addictive. While batting you can choose the direction of the shot by using the left analog stick and the type of shot using the face buttons. You can hit all around the ground and almost every shot from the real thing like hooks, pulls, drives etc can be executed if your timing is perfect because like in a real game of cricket when batting timing is everything. In bowling, again the analog stick selects the direction in which the ball should move and you can choose the type of delivery you want to bowl with the face buttons. Bouncers, yorkers and slow deliveries etc all can be bowled.

The graphics in this game are average with stadiums resembling a little like their original counter parts. The crowd animation looks the same no matter where you are playing. Players look very little or nothing like the real ones after whom they have been modeled which is pathetic really because there are sports games like EA’s FIFA soccer series that laser scan players so the game can have a look as realistic look as possible.

I noticed that classic players like Wasim Akram were better modeled than current players like Abdul Razzaq. Plus some of the animations of the players are really lame and players show no emotion or intelligence. A player will celebrate even when he takes a catch on a no ball. Also don’t expect to find any signature bowling styles or batting styles in this game cause there aren’t any. All batsmen bat the same way and all bowlers ball the same way plus do the same actions.

On the sound side the game is somewhat better. All the batting shots sound nice plus the bowl hitting the wickets when a batsman is bowled out sounds awesome. On the downside, appeals by different teams in the game all sound the same plus crowds also sound the same no matter what country you choose to play in. The crowd will cheer every player that gets out and every six that is hit regardless of the fact the home team is playing or a visiting team is playing. It would have been nice if there were some booing in the game when the visiting team was playing good and cheering for THE home team most of the time. Thus the atmosphere in the game leaves much to be desired.

For the 1st time Brian Lara Cricket features commentary but that also ends up just being average. Commentary in the game is provided by cricketing greats like Ian Bishop but it feels as if they were forced to do so. During matches you won’t hear any REAL excitement in their tone, also you will often hear them repeat the same dialogue and go on and on about something will be in no way related to the match being currently played.

Lastly, though being an average in almost all aspects this is a great game. That’s because cricket fans don’t have much of a choice when it comes to selecting a cricket game for their systems. With no competition from other cricket games cause there are hardly any except for EA’s Cricket 2005 this is your best choice.

System: Xbox, PS2, PC
Dev: Swordfish Studios
Pub: Codemasters
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Sohail