Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 (often abbreviated as BLIC2005) is a cricket simulation developed by Swordfish Studios
and published by Codemasters
. It is the fifth game in the Brian Lara Cricket
series, and was released on July 21st 2005 (the first day of that year's Ashes series) for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. As with its predecessors, the game is endorsed by veteran West Indian batsman and world record holder Brian Lara
. Its release marked the series' first game in seven years, and continues in the direction established by 1998's Brian Lara Cricket '99
. In Australia and New Zealand, the game is known as Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2005 and features Ponting on the box art in place of Lara.
Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 provides a similar experience to most cricket games, giving players the chance to both bat and bowl. It also incorporates some user-controlled fielding elements. The game can be played by up to four players, however it does not feature online play.
The batting aspect of BLIC2005 has been designed with the aim of being intuitive and borrows a lot from BLC99. Different shot types are assigned to different buttons, with shot direction chosen using the directional buttons or analog stick. This system of control makes a fairly sizeable array of shots available to players. Shot selection is an important aspect of batting; depending on where the bowler is pitching the ball, different shot types and directions are needed in order to break through the fielders and score runs. The other important factor to take into account is timing, which is just as crucial as shot selection when batting. A badly timed shot could result in the ball coming off the edge of the bat, or missing it altogether. Before selecting a shot, the player can move the batsman within his crease to better set him up for a certain shot. The player is also in control of running after playing a shot
BLIC2005 implements a Confidence meter for batsmen which has a significant impact on gameplay. When a batsman first reaches the crease his Confidence will be fairly low and it is up to the player to improve it. High Confidence will open up new shots to a batsman, boost his shot power and improve his timing. In contrast, low Confidence will limit a batsman's ability to score runs by restricting his power and timing. It is therefore important to build the confidence of batsmen in order to facilitate the scoring of runs. Confidence can be improved by playing well-timed shots and scoring runs, while it can be reduced by missing the ball or being hit. Beyond the Confidence meter, each player also has a set of predetermined statistics related to his batting ability. This serves to balance the game, ensuring that a tailend batsman will not perform as well as an opening batsman.
Bowling in BLIC2005 is fundamentally rather similar to batting, insofar as both are intuitive and rely heavily on direction and timing to be successful. The game features several different types of bowling, and while each type of bowling requires a different approach to be effective, the control system for bowling is universal. Different types of delivery are assigned to different buttons, and once a delivery is selected the bowler begins his run-up. Simultaneously, a target appears on the pitch showing the area the ball will pitch in. This can be manipulated by the player using directional buttons or the analog stick. Finally, a No Ball meter will appear which the player must stop. Stopping it early will eliminate the risk of a No Ball, but will result in a slower delivery. Stopping it later will increase the ball's speed but increases the risk of a No Ball. Timing is important at this point to achieve the optimum speed without bowling an illegal delivery. After the ball has been released, the player can apply swing to the ball in order to make it move in the air and try to deceive the batsman.
As with batting, bowlers also have their own Confidence meter which affects their performance. A high Confidence level will provide bowlers with "Special Deliveries", unpredictable types of delivery that are hard for the batsman to play if used correctly. While there is no penalty as such for low Confidence, it makes the Special Deliveries harder to obtain. Confidence can be boosted by taking wickets and not conceding runs. Likewise, it will be lowered if the bowler concedes boundaries. As is also the case with batting, each player in the game has their own bowling-related statistics which influences their natural ability to bowl, ensuring that the game stays balanced.
While BLC99 offered a choice between automatic and manual fielding, BLIC2005 instead opted to include a semi-automatic fielding mechanic. After a batsman plays a shot, the nearest fielder will automatically chase down the ball. However, throwing and catching the ball are both user-controlled activities. In both cases, a meter will appear which must be stopped on or near the centre mark. If this is correctly timed, the fielder in question will either catch the ball or quickly throw the ball back to the wicketkeeper, depending on the context. Reflex-based catching by the wicketkeeper or slip cordon is automatic.
Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 is presented in the style of television cricket coverage. Graphically, this is most noticeable through the style of the HUD which resembles the on-screen score found on most TV coverage. Small stat windows will often pop up at the bottom of the screen, usually providing some information about a bowler's spell or a batsman's innings. Deliveries from fast bowlers are accompanied by their speed in one corner of the screen. Scorecards and various other morsels of statistical information are available at any time from the game's pause menu. This emulation also extends to the camera angles used and the action replays that follow boundaries and wickets. A third umpire is present in the game, as is often the case with televised international matches, to aid in making close decisions.
One of the major ways in which the game mimics television footage of the sport is through its implementation of the Hawkeye ball tracking system. Used in TV coverage for analytical purposes, BLIC2005 implements Hawkeye to better illustrate match statistics. When a batsman reaches a milestone such as scoring 50 runs, a Hawkeye "wagon wheel" will be shown, revealing how all the runs were scored and what areas of the pitch they were scored in. If an LBW decision is made, Hawkeye will track the position of the ball to demonstrate whether the ball will go on to hit the stumps. This implementation of Hawkeye adds to the games televised style of presentation.
BLC99 was the first game in the series to feature recorded commentary, and BLIC2005 continues this trend. The game employs five recognisable faces, although only two will commentate on any one match. The commentators featured in-game are Jonathan Agnew, David Gower, Ian Bishop, Tony Greig and Bill Lawry. The inclusion of commentary is yet another factor that contributes to the game's televised style of presentation, particularly due to the use of genuine commentators. Much like its predecessor and several other sports games which include commentary, BLIC2005's phrase bank is rather restricted, meaning players are likely to hear the same phrase several times in quick succession.
Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 offers a wide variety of game modes covering almost every aspect of the real-life sport.
The most accessible of BLIC2005's modes, Exhibition Match lets players dive straight into the action and play a single match, either against a human opponent or a computer-controlled team. There are three main types of match available within the Exhibition Match menu:
- One Day International - One Day International (ODI) matches are limited overs games with one innings per side. The number of overs can be set to anything from six overs (for a quick game) to a full fifty overs (for the full ODI experience), and offers support for the popular Twenty20 form of the game by providing the opportunity to play a twenty-over game. Teams wear coloured kits in ODI matches and the games are usually high-scoring, fast-paced affairs.
- Test match - The Test match is the most traditional form of cricket. Each match spans five days and each team has the opportunity to bat twice. Test matches usually progress at a much more gentle pace than ODI games and are a test of players' endurance as well as their skill. Teams wear white kits in Test matches.
- Double Wicket - Not a cricket match in the traditional sense, Double Wicket matches offer a different kind of fast-paced cricket. Players choose two cricketers and each pair has a limited number of overs to score as many runs as possible. Rather than being out when a wicket falls, the batting team will lose runs from their total. The winner is the team with the most runs at the end of the game.
The Tournament menu houses BLIC2005's several cup and league modes. These are oriented towards more serious players who want more from the game than a single match. Winning tournaments unlocks trophies which can be viewed in the game's Pavilion.
- ICC Cricket World Cup - The most prestigious tournament in international cricket, the 2003 Cricket World Cup is one of BLIC2005's two fully-licensed tournaments. Players can assume control of any of the competing nations and attempt to win the sport's highest accolade.
- ICC Champions Trophy - Often described as a mini-World Cup, BLIC2005 included the 2004 Champions Trophy as the second of its fully-licensed tournaments. As with the World Cup, players can choose to participate as any of the nations involved.
- World XI Series - One of BLIC2005's more interesting tournaments, the World XI Series challenges players to take control of any international team and play against a variety of elite custom teams from various continents. The tournament culminates with a face-off against the best players in the world.
- World Tour - Perhaps BLIC2005's most involved tournament, the World Tour is akin to a Career Mode from other sports. Players can choose to play a single series between any two Test nations, setting the number of Test and ODI matches to be played in the series. Alternatively, players can embark on a Full World Tour, playing in individual Test series against all of the other Test nations.
- Custom League - This mode allows players to set up a completely customised league to play. Several parameters can be set, including whether to play ODI, Test or Double Wicket matches, the number of overs to be bowled (ODI and Double Wicket only) and the teams involved.
- Double Wicket Cup - An ideal game mode for parties, the Double Wicket Cup takes the fast-paced action of the Double Wicket Exhibition mode and adds a knockout cup aspect.
Challenge mode is pretty self-explanatory: it offers players several challenges to complete. There are three different forms of challenges to take on, and much like the Tournament mode, trophies can be unlocked by completing them.
- Classic Matches - Making a return from BLC99 are the Classic Matches. Each Classic Match takes a famous scenario from cricket's past and challenges the player to either recreate or rewrite history. BLIC2005's ten Classic Matches cover an incredibly wide time-span, from the very first Ashes series to the 2004 Champions Trophy final. A new feature not present in BLC99 allows players to choose from either competing side, resulting in different requirements to fulfil depending on your choice. To use the first Classic Match (the first Ashes series) as an example, if players choose England they are tasked with scoring the runs necessary to win the match. However, choosing Australia will result in the player having to bowl out the English batsmen before they reach the required target. Initially, only one Classic Match is available, with the next match becoming available after the current challenge is complete.
- World XI Challenge - This mode challenges the player to take on the elite World XI side with every team in the game and win. Initially only Australia, the world's highest ranking international side, is available. After beating the World XI, the next-highest ranking team becomes available, and so on. The mode ends after the player beats the World XI with all 15 available teams.
- Classic XI Challenge - After completing the World XI Challenge, the Classic XI Challenge becomes available to play. In this mode you'll be going up against the Classic XI: an elite team made up of world class cricketers from the sport's past.
BLIC2005 implements a Career mode for the first and currently only time in the series (the mode was removed from the series' next game, Brian Lara International Cricket 2007
). The Career portion of the game essentially revolves around creating a young, up-and-coming cricketer and building him up into a world-class player through acquiring match experience. The initial creation process involves selecting a facial appearance from any of the stock faces within the game and setting the newly-created player's name and nationality. After this, the player's various cricketing attributes such as dominant hand, batting and bowling styles and preferred fielding position. Finally, stat points can be spent on improving the created player's various batting, bowling and fielding statistics.
Once a player has been created, he can be placed on the team corresponding to his nationality in any of the game's modes. In this respect, the Career mode provides some RPG-like qualities to the game. Participating in matches will earn the player extra stat points which can then be spent on further improving the player's statistics. The type of stat points earned depend on the player's performance in any given match; a strong batting display will earn stat points to spend on the player's batting attributes, while several wickets will result in stat points to invest in the player's bowling ability. The ultimate aim is for the created cricketer to progress to a level where he can hold his own against the sport's biggest names.
Those new to the series may find the gameplay hard to grasp at first. To aid players in adjusting to the game mechanics, BLIC2005 includes a Nets function. Here players can choose to practise their batting or bowling. Various parameters including the batsman's dominant hand and the bowler's style and approach can all be adjusted to allow players to practise and prepare for every situation.
Extras and Secrets
One of the main incentives for players to keep returning to Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 is its extra content.
- Trophies - A number of trophies can be obtained in BLIC2005. These are split into two categories; Tournament trophies, and Milestone trophies. Tournament trophies are unlocked after completing tournaments and challenges, while the Milestone trophies keep track of the player's personal achievements such as highest score, first five-wicket haul, and so on.
- Photos - Several photos exist in the game. These are typically of famous cricketing moments from over the years. Some are unlocked by completing Classic Matches, while others require reaching certain batting or bowling milestones.
- Classic Players - Some classic players are unlocked individually by meeting certain requirements. Unlocking classic players makes them available for use in Double Wicket matches, and also gives players access to a biography featuring both biographical and statistical information on the cricketer.
- Elite Teams - The elite teams, including (but not limited to) the World XI and Classic XI, are unlocked by beating their respective challenges. After unlocking these teams, they become available to use in Exhibition matches and custom tournaments.
Up until the release of Brian Lara International Cricket 2005, every game in the franchise featured full player licensing. BLIC2005 broke this trend, instead offering players with slightly misspelt names. Examples include "A. Flantiff" in place of "Andrew Flintoff" and "A. Gelchrast" instead of "Adam Gilchrist". There are some exceptions to this rule: Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting are named correctly in all game modes due to endorsing the game, while several of the unlockable Classic Players also sport their correct names. The licensing issue also extends to the game's stadia, which look identical to their real-life counterparts but sport names such as "North London" in place of "Lord's" and "Birmingham" instead of "Edgbaston". This is presumably because EA Sports
' Cricket series owns licensing rights for the correct names for players and stadia.
To compensate, BLIC2005 has acquired ICC licensing for two major international tournaments: the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2004 Champions Trophy. While playing in these tournaments, players will have access to fully licensed cricketers, kits and stadia, however it is exclusively limited to these game modes. BLIC2005 is the first game in the series to feature licensed cricket bats, including companies such as Slazenger, Kookaburra and Brian Lara's signature MRF bat. Patches exist for the PC version of the game which make real names and kits available, while the console versions of the game only allow players to change cricketers' names using a limited editing suite.
Some random facts about Brian Lara International Cricket 2005:
- While the game was still in development, one of the developers added a streaker to the game's code! The artist, a fan of model Lauren Pope, added her to the game as a streaker who appeared whenever Brian Lara stepped out to bat. The streaker was discovered and removed from the game before release.