A screen grab from the multiplayer mode in ‘Sachin Saga VR’.
A screen grab from the multiplayer mode in ‘Sachin Saga VR’.

Game Review: Sachin Saga VR is a big leap in virtual reality cricket games

  • The VR experience makes it refreshing to play this game developed by JetSynthesys
  • The game provides a 360-degree view, allowing gamers to assess the field placement by simply moving the head to look around the ground

Sports gaming in virtual reality (VR) has generally remained disappointing since developers still haven’t figured out how to adapt some of the popular sport-based PC and console games for VR platforms. But while this continues to hold true for mobile-based sports games, things are beginning to look promising with titles such as Sachin Saga VR.

Developed by Indian start-up JetSynthesys, the game is the VR-based version of last year’s popular Android and iOS game Sachin Saga Cricket Champions. It retains the basic elements of the original game, like the “legend" mode which puts gamers in specific scenarios from key matches in Tendulkar’s career, allowing them to play as the ace cricketer himself. Like the Android game, the gameplay is limited to batting scenarios, but the camera angles have been tweaked to bring in the trademark immersive experience of virtual reality platforms. So, instead of the broadcast mode in the Android version, where the camera is placed behind the bowler, the VR game offers the batsman’s point of view. This can make gameplay a bit difficult initially, but once you get the hang of it, it is quite enjoyable. The game provides a 360-degree view, allowing gamers to assess the field placement by simply moving the head to look around the ground. Similarly, after playing shots, gamers can see where the ball is headed so they can decide whether to take runs. However, this angle doesn’t give a spatial idea—it is hard to judge how far the fielders are placed, which often results in run-outs.

The career mode is quite elaborate and there are more than 100 games to play. A multiplayer mode allows players to go up against friends. According to JetSynthesys, the game will be updated with more modes to coincide with forthcoming cricket tournaments.

The game works with the Google cardboard-based VR headset made by JetSynthesys. Sold separately for 1,999, the VR headset feels more reassuring and sturdier, owing to its plastic body, than the flimsier Google Cardboard VR. It comes with a joystick for shot selection at the top, followed by A-X-B-Y keys to control player actions . The headset is battery-operated and has to be paired with the smartphone running the VR game via Bluetooth. Though the headset is based on Google Cardboard, the game will not work with the latter as the in-game controls are tied to the controller. It can, on the other hand, be used with other VR games on Android, but without input from the controller.

Sachin Saga VR doesn’t compare favourably with console-level games like Big Ant Studios’ Don Bradman Cricket. However, the VR experience makes it refreshing to play and the fact that it doesn’t suffer from any performance lag or poor control mechanism, unlike the majority of its mobile-based counterparts, makes it worth a try even if one has to buy the VR headset for it.

Sachin Saga VR is available as a free download on the Google Play Store and works with all Android smartphones.

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