Cricket 24 returns with the series’ signature gameplay, but we can’t help but feel like we’re watching a replay during a rain delay.
Cricket has always been Big Ant Studios’ crowning glory in the Melbourne developer’s roster of niche sport adaptations. The foundations of batting and bowling have been solid since it debuted without any official teams almost a decade ago as Don Bradman Cricketand it’s continued to refine gameplay and expand its roster ever since.
In that regard, Cricket 24 is at the top of the best cricket game series. But it’s not quite that simple; it also brings the least improvements over its predecessor, as the seams start to show in the Marge Simpson Chanel suit of sport videogames.
As with December 2021’s Cricket 22, Cricket 24 keeps its proven but ageing batting, bowling and fielding formula intact, and focuses its additions off the field. The series has carried over the same gameplay since it bore the Ashes name in 2017 with mostly positive tweaks, but this time around, it’s barely done that. After nearly 3 years, Cricket 24 keeps things almost identical to the 2021 instalment – there’s only so many times it can run through the sewing machine for minor alterations.
Instead, it prioritises more natural player movements through new motion capture, a more intuitive menu, finally including licensed Indian franchises and adding some more minnow international teams.
Eight of the 10 Indian Premier League teams are now fully licensed, including full player likenesses and a bunch of real world Indian stadiums – with livelier crowds than the start of the 2024 World Cup.
The IPL joins most of the world’s other major T20 leagues, including the men’s and women’s Big Bash, Caribbean Premier League, Pakistan Super league and New Zealand’s Super Smash – as well as English’s not-T20 competition, the Hundred.
On the international stage, licensing is anchored by the Ashes as it has been for years. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t be worse for Cricket 24. It’s well and truly missed its marquee 2023 event, and I’ve struggled to care about playing through a series that ended long ago. Perhaps England fans still basking in the glory will feel differently.
Instead, it’s launched alongside the 2024 Cricket World Cup in India – which isn’t officially licensed.
You can setup a 50-over World Championship in India easily enough. But it lacks the prestige of a proper license, and by default, most international teams don’t feature their real players. The likes of Australia, England and New Zealand retain their proper squads, but your fake World Cup in India won’t include the real Indian team out-of-the-box.
It’s understandable, as cricket is a notoriously hard game to license, and I imagine India’s cricket board, the BCCI, effectively makes it impossible. But most players won’t connect the dots and it’s confusing to see Indian ODI captain Rohit Sharma playing for the Mumbai Indians, but imposter Ravi Sura taking his place in the national team.
It’s unfortunate that Cricket 24 brings more licenses than ever before, but not the flagship international tournament its release has coincided with.
That’s where Cricket 24’s worth starts to be questioned, more than previous instalments. On the field, it’s effectively the same game as Cricket 22, which was very similar to Cricket 19 before it – head back to my review from over 4 years ago, and the gameplay that matters remains very similar.
Both of those games were improved considerably through a stream of patches following release – especially Cricket 22which in many ways felt like a step backwards at launch but ended up regaining form. We don’t take a massive step backwards to go forward this time around; Cricket 24 feels like a continuation of Cricket 22 out in the middle. But that’s just it – it’s more of Cricket 22not a full sequel.
It’s more polished than its predecessor was at launch – it’s very similar to how Cricket 22 is now, but that includes suffering from its lingering bugs and glitches. There are too many oddities and inconsistencies in career mode to be worth starting before the deluge of patches, and the unusual results of simulated segments, or even entire matches, remains an annoyance.
Teammates are problematic if you prefer to play as a rookie career or star player and let the rest of the team look after themselves. The AI seemingly has no awareness of the match situation, which makes it frustrating to chase wins in limited overs cricket. This has been a recurring irritation in recent games and it’s a shame it hasn’t been improved. I had more faith in the AI and simulated results in the early entries.
Cricket 24 inherits the best of Cricket 22without making much headway to resolve its weaknesses. While gameplay is essentially the same as Cricket 22player animations are marginally improved and a little more natural. Although, while improved, fielders are still too awkward. But the extremes of failing to pick up a ball hit right at them and teleporting across the oval to take an impossible catch are less pronounced – they spend more time in the functional middle area.
Otherwise, it’s effectively the same game, touting more licenses, expanded motion capture and the commentary of Adam Gilchrist – which is pretty good, but doesn’t always match the play – as the main reasons to upgrade. Yet despite the added licenses, it still relies on the community driven Cricket Academy to replace some of the world’s biggest teams.
The returning creation suite allows the generic teams and players to be replaced with “the best” community made versions at the touch of the button. The likes of India and Pakistan can be injected into the World Cup, with their real-world namesakes, just don’t expect them to match the realism of the officially licensed teams.
However, if that’s what you’re looking for, at the time of publishing Cricket 24 isn’t the best option. The Cricket Academy is still building content, so replacing the placeholders with the “best” versions will see Afghanistan become the world’s most powerful team. Meanwhile, India uses the Big Ant logo and wears plain kits. As it stands, you’ll get more official looking non-official teams in Cricket 22with very similar gameplay.
While it is the best of the bunch when using licensed teams, for the first time, that doesn’t make Cricket 24 the right pick for everyone. For more casual cricket fans, the much cheaper Cricket 19 or Cricket 22which is currently on Game Pass, offer a nearly identical experience where it matters, with years of patches and more thorough community fixes to cover the missing licensing.
With diminishing returns, it might be time to reduce the frequency of cricket games, to allow more time to take the strides in gameplay and reliability that the future of the Cricket series needs. With a reliance on the community to still plug the licensing gaps, the addition of a few more teams and stadiums could be left to DLC in the meantime; there’s precedent when the Hundred joined Cricket 19 as DLC. The Cricket Academy also serves to allow players to update team lists, making squad updates less important compared to annual sport games.
For cricket addicts, Cricket 24 offers the smoothest gameplay in the series. But as someone who has played through a virtual batting career from rookie to Test captain more times than I care to admit, it’s not enough to entice me to do it all again; I feel like I’m reliving the virtual career I’ve already had.
And while it’s in the best shape at launch since Don Bradman Cricket 14it’s not still not as polished as we’d like considering the minimal gameplay improvements. There are bugs, glitches and crashes aplenty, playing on PS5. We’d wager it’s aiming for full fitness ahead of the 2024-25 Australian summer of cricket after a magnitude of patches.
Cricket 24 is a curious case of being one of the best in the series, but with such minor changes over Cricket 22 that it feels like we’re watching a replay during a rain delay. That makes it hard to recommend if you’re already invested in past games. For new players, it remains as accessible as a sport as complicated as cricket can be. With a bevvy of returning control options and difficulties, there’s a way to play for all skill levels. Cricket 24 is still at its best when bat meets ball, and there are more licensed modes than ever before headlined by reliving the 2023 Ashes and forging a lengthy career – but the same experience can be had, without Gilly, at a fraction of the cost with Cricket 22.
Cricket 24 was reviewed using a promotional code on PlayStation 5, as provided by the developer. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.
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