International Cricket Captain 2
|a game by||Empire Interactive Entertainment|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Empire's reluctance to speed us a copy of International Cricket Captain 2 was understandable, given our robust treatment of the prequel, International Cricket Captain. However, as flawed as the original was, the fact that cricket management simulations are as rare as England victories ensured its commercial success. Now, with the recent World Cup farce just a fading memory, Empire have struck back with a sequel that deserves first class honours - combining EA presentation and style with Championship Manager tactics and strategy.
Fans of the original will be delighted to hear that Empire have addressed its two main flaws: they've added a thoroughly entertaining two-player mode and modified the AI so that your managerial decisions now have a defining impact at the crease. The graphics have had a facelift, too. The in-game action is now depicted admirably, and the commentary - provided by Jonathan Agnew - is crisp and instructive, and has no trouble keeping up with the action. Novices may feel slightly overwhelmed - a situation that's not helped by the brevity of the manual - but the 'quick start' option means that batting, bowling and other match variables can be ignored in favour of diving straight into the action.
During play, there's a near-infinite variety of strategic options on offer, and it's supremely gratifying to snatch victory from defeat with a well-timed change of bowler, tactic or field setting. The addition of the 1999 National League (complete with pyjama-clad players) and the host of new cups and internationals on offer complement the day-to-day wheeler-dealing typical of most football management games to produce a well-balanced blend of on-field action and 'behind-the-scenes' strategy. Despite the game's alarming propensity for crashing and some intermittently dodgy presentation (both matters are being addressed with a patch), this is a supremely comprehensive and engaging package that knocks the competition - and the original - for six.