In the Play This Next column, Man of Many takes a look at a great new or recently released game that may have slipped under your radar. Given the sheer quality of content available on consoles and the near-limitless potential of PC, it’s easy to overlook an amazing game in favour of the latest hit. For every Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, there’s another game equally worthy of attention, and we make a case for why you should play it and where you can find it.
Ashes Cricket is made by Aussies for Aussies. Also, to a lesser extent, other cricketing nations. It’s the 3rd cricket game developed by Melbourne’s Big Ant Studios and the first to be named after cricket’s longest running rivalry. It’s also arguably the best cricket game to date.
Ashes Cricket will first and foremost appeal to any warm-blooded Aussie or Brit thanks to its star power. Big Ant scored licensing rights to The Ashes, which means its game features the likeness of the entire Australian and English squads, both male and female and the stadiums in use for the 5 test match series.
Thanks to motion capture, fan favourites Steve Smith, David Warner and Glen Maxwell all perform with the style of their real-world counterpart. The same goes for all batters and bowlers from both national teams. It won’t mean much to some, although hardcore cricket fans will notice the nuances of individual strokes, footwork and deliveries, creating a realistic and more immersive experience. There’s even authentic commentary by Michael Slater and other members of the Wide World of Sports team.
Sadly, cricket fans from other nations will be disappointed that the licensing ends with Australia and England. There are no recognisable names in the NZ, SA, Indian or Pakistani teams. Like I said, by Aussies for Aussies.
New players are encouraged to use the new simplified analogue stick control scheme, but veterans can jump back into the classic controls or opt for a combination of the two. Ashes Cricket is incredibly easy to pick up and play, even when a seasoned Big Ant Studios cricket aficionado goes up against an amateur, once again thanks to the customisable control schemes.
Along with The Ashes series, you can also play a comprehensive ‘Career Mode’ where you take your customised junior cricketer through club level all the way to the top to captain your country to Ashes victory. There are also competition, online versus and casual modes available.
Academy is where you can get creative: It’s where user content is made, with gamers filling in the gaps of the international rosters or creating humorously named teams and players with custom uniforms for a personalised experience. You can also share content across PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
Big Ant Studios has done an excellent job with Ashes Cricket that comes close to rivalling the quality and authenticity of sporting giants EA Sports and 2K Sports with what we’re assuming is a fraction of the budget. It’s also the perfect game to play this Australian summer as the Aussies take on the Brits in the Magellan Ashes Series. Nice Garry!