The official video game of the 2011 World Cup, Cricket Power, is a game only for the keenly determined.
In the 3 hours following our purchase of the game at www.cricketpower.com, we saw nary a hint of gameplay—and one mind-bogglingly irritating installation process after another.
The game had, in the course of an afternoon, left a gruesome trail of crashed computers, cryptic error messages and unresponsive browsers, and a mail trail of bewildered tech support.
The good stuff
Here’s how it is supposed to work—you buy the game online for $9.99 (around Rs 455), you’re given a download link to a 100 MB file, you install the game— and Cricket Power runs in your browser via a plug-in.
Each stage in that process is fraught with headaches, and no opportunity is missed to extend the yawning chasm between you and the game.
This is tragic, because the occasional glimpse you do get (before you’re booted out of fun by arbitrary “server errors”) is quite promising—Cricket Power has rumblings of addictive gameplay, some crisp 3D graphics and a decent match engine.
Batting is a slightly convoluted process, but fun once you get the hang of it. The up and down arrows switch between shots, and there’s a “power meter” that determines how hard you’re hitting the ball.
The graphics and animations are very impressive, and the official licence means you can play with actual player names instead of mangled monstrosities such as Brian Lara Cricket 2007’s infamous “Sachin Tankelki”.
The in-game animations can’t be skipped. There’s only so many times you can watch players go through the same celebratory huddle. All bowlers have a wonderfully exaggerated action, where they don’t so much bowl as hurl the ball at you. The umpire delivers his judgement from somewhere between the pitch and the long-on boundary.
The matches are comically high-scoring and bowling veers between frustrating repetition and the discovery of a “trick” that skittles out the opposition within two overs.
Cricket Power makes only partial use of the official licence—stadiums aren’t accurately rendered and players look like heavily photoshopped versions of themselves.
Most of the technical problems could just be opening-week hiccups, and one hopes that the developers, Lahore-based Mindstorm Studios, will iron them out soon. The bigger problem is the price. Rs 500 is the price of most full-length PC cricket games, and Cricket Power is missing the breadth of options and multiplayer capabilities those possess.
Cricket Powercan be purchased and played at www.cricketpower.com