Cricket is an interesting sport to convey in a video game; do you go full arcade with T20-like fireworks, boundary side hot tubs and constant sixes, or do you go down the route of simulation with rain delays, one-man-and-his-dog crowds and forward defences? Codemasters tried for years with its Brian Lara series (99 on PS1 being the highlight), EA then picked up the baton with mixed success, but nobody has gotten as close to replicating the gentleman's game as Big Ant Studios did with Don Bradman Cricket 14. Can the follow-up build on the promise of the original? Strap on that jock strap and join us at the crease.
The brilliant control system is still present, but there are now areas of the pitch that seem impossible to hit, no matter how hard we try...
The animations for these shots have also gone backwards, the cut shot in particular looking awful when compared with the 2014 edition. It’s also been made apparent that certain shots will result in you getting out every time; never attempt to late cut a spinner (a bread-and-butter shot in the real game and in DBC 14) as you will be caught behind by the gymnastic wicketkeepers without fail. Running between the wickets has also brought about some problems, as on occasion the AI decides to create a mix up, regardless of your button presses - we’ve been run out a few times because of this bug and it is very irritating!
All of these niggles will hopefully be addressed in future patches (Big Ant are brilliant at fixing bugs and issues), as the core gameplay is still engaging and fun, while the addition of precision shots (hold down the right bumper when playing your shot) is a nice touch for the single-run-loving purist.
The modes and options available are as thorough as the original DBC, with the highlight still being the wonderfully engaging, time dissipating career mode. A lovely improvement from DBC 14 is the inclusion of club cricket. In the original your career began at county level (Hampshire is the CORRECT choice) before progressing to international fixtures. Being able to play for local towns is grand, and it’ll give you a chuckle when the commentator stutters their names out too.
Finding an online match has been an issue for us so far, whether this is down to player numbers or Big Ant’s servers is unclear at this time.
As the bails are removed and we reach the close of play, we have to be honest; we’re slightly disappointed with Don Bradman Cricket 17. Most of what made the original great is still here, but in trying to reach a wider audience DBC 17 prods at a wide one and edges to slip. Here’s hoping Big Ant continue to listen to their community and patch out the bugs and glitches, as if they do, we’ll have the definitive console cricketing experience.