Publisher: Childish Things
Platforms: PC/iPad/Phone (The 2011 version is available for Mac)
ESRB Rating: None (suitable for all ages)
Price: PC version £15.99 (UK), $23.99 (AUS), $25.99 (US), INR 399 (India) (free two-day trial available for download); iPad/iPhone version £4.99
Genre: Sports Management Sim
The International Cricket Captain series, developed primarily by Chris Child on his Childish Things label, has been going since 1998. There are a few additions for 2012, including the option to captain a team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and updates to Australian and English Twenty20 leagues, as well as some AI tweaks. Still, this latest edition looks and feels basically the same as the 2011 version did: an in-depth cricket management simulation that requires equal amounts of skill and luck.
How It Works:
As a cricket management simulator, International Cricket Captain 2012 doesn't require you to master complicated keyboard controls. You point and click. That's about it.
Of course, there's a lot more to it than that. Now that the IPL has been added, albeit without full licensing, the game offers a wider variety of gameplay options than ever before. In ICC 2012, you can play as an English county team, an Australian first-class team, an Indian IPL team or as any Full ICC Member international team. The English and Australian career options allow you to play in first-class, List A (one day) and Twenty20 competitions, and you have the option of captaining an international team at the same time. International modes include both the 50-over and T20 World Cups as well as test and one day series.
As captain, you have a number of on-field and off-field roles. Between matches, you need to set coaching and physio routines for your players, select the team ahead of each game and hire and fire during the off-season. During a match, you control the aggression levels of your batsmen, adjust line and length instructions for the bowlers and vary your field settings.
To back the gameplay up, ICC 2012 has a considerable player database that generates new players at the end of each season.
- Suitable for all: International Cricket Captain 2012 caters to virtually every level of cricket understanding, which is remarkable for such a complicated and confusing sport. The casual gamer can fire up the game and start playing an exhibition match in seconds, while those looking for a more in-depth simulation can pore over player statistics and adjust field settings to their heart's content.
- Good interface: From starting a game to in-match batting, bowling and fielding tweaks, the entire game can be navigated with the mouse. It's easy on the eye and clearly laid out so that you don't have to spend a lot of time figuring out which button does what.
- Huge database: The magnitude of ICC2012's player database is about as comprehensive as you can get. It boasts over 4000 players from around the world and is up to date for the current 2012/2013 season. You'll find yourself recognising obscure names from this game when you glance at first-class scorecards.
- Variety in gameplay: Every form of cricket is represented, from four- and five-day cricket to 50-over and 20-over matches. You can sprint through a Twenty20 World Cup or embark on a marathon first-class career in England, and numerous competitions at international and domestic levels are part of it. Hopefully, future editions of International Cricket Captain will include more domestic leagues than just England and Australia.
- The luck factor: Is your set batsman going to block for five overs towards the end of a tight game? Are your openers going to take an impossible run and get out before they get going? Will your most economical bowler send down a flurry of no-balls and get smashed around the park? International Cricket Captain 2012 can be frustrating, and a lot of that is down to plain bad luck. You can never control your players completely, so sometimes you can only watch on in disbelief as the game throws you a random bad day at the office.
- Simple player animations: In International Cricket Captain 2012, you won't see Lasith Malinga's slinging-arm action or Dale Steyn's front-on bullets, nor will you see Kevin Pietersen's hook for six or Sachin Tendulkar's back-foot drive. The array of strokes in every batsman's arsenal is the same, and every bowler of a particular type has the same action - just with slightly different hair and skin colour. This is a nit-pick, as Childish Things don't really have the means to undertake extensive motion capture and it is still the only 3D match engine in a cricket management sim.
- Limited control: As many game types and player statistics as there are, it becomes clear after a while of playing ICC2012 that you're not doing much more than clicking a few buttons. All you can do with your batsmen is change their aggression level, while bowler control is limited to what line and length they bowl. It's for this reason that a lot of the satisfaction in the game is derived from getting the right balance with your team selection and developing players via the training screens.
International Cricket Captain 2012 isn't the best cricket management sim one can imagine, but it is the best thing out there right now. It looks good, is well-researched and offers a wide variety of competitions in which to play. Anyone with an interest in the game is likely to enjoy it, and at a relatively low price, it offers good value for money. You can download the trial at the link below.