Don Bradman Cricket 17: Review

By Stuart Garlick

Don Bradman Cricket 17, the latest in a long line of cricket games, gives players the chance to play matches for their favourite domestic or international cricket team against opposition around the world. Thing is, like any game, Bradman is expensive, and so you need advice on whether it's any good or not. Here's the MyCricketHighlights expert opinion.

The Basic Facts
Don Bradman Cricket 17, for PlayStation 4 and XBox One, is the second version of the game, and, according to the game's developers, Big Ant, the game contains multiple improvements on the previous version. These alterations are designed to create a more lifelike experience for gamers, and are based on feedback the software house received from fans who played the earlier version of Bradman.

An easy way to describe the game is to ask you to imagine an attempt to devise a cricket version of FIFA, the blockbuster soccer franchise with which US-based development house EA Sports has cleaned up for years. Like on that game, Bradman contains all domestic and international cricket teams down to a certain level, with domestic cricket covered by all regional and local representative sides, and the international part of the game featuring the Test-playing nations like Australia, India and Pakistan, but also the Associate nations like Ireland, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.

All forms of the game can be played, from full Test matches down to T20, and there are also opportunities to play even more concise, arcade-inspired versions of cricket, like Five5, a fictional five-over-per-innings format to deliver you a quick fix of cricket if you're playing with your mates.

What's Good About Don Bradman Cricket 17?
The great thing about diving into a game of Don Bradman Cricket 17 is that it's certainly an immersive experience, seeming more like a proper sports simulation than earlier cricket games like Ashes Cricket 13. The world cricket stadia are all represented, from the MCG to local-level grounds, all seemingly accurately texture-mapped and rendered, with realistic reactions to the game going on in the middle.

The variety of teams in Bradman is great, too. Not everyone is a fan of India, England, Australia or Pakistan, and so the developers have responded by reproducing as many teams as they're able to do, bringing great variety to Bradman. Another thing that brings welcome spice to the mix is Career Mode, meaning you can start right from the bottom of the professional cricket ladder and work your way up to international level for your chosen country.

Meanwhile, Be A Pro is your way to find out what it's like to be Virat Kohli... minus the invitations to movie premieres and the glamorous girlfriend, of course. Bradman also includes both male and female players for the first time, a truly welcome addition, especially given the fierce rivalry developing between the England and Australia women's teams during the Ashes.

Bowling is hard to master, as is batting - and that's how it should be. Even though Bradman seeks to bring together fairweather fans as well as full-on cricket nerds, there needs to be a skill level to attain, and it's pleasing that Big Ant has resisted the temptation to cater to the lowest common denominator.

What's Bad About Don Bradman Cricket 17?
Both graphically and in terms of the user experience, Bradman has a long way to go if it wants to be the FIFA of cricket. The players' likenesses still look a bit like a slightly shonky waxwork of the real thing, and can be a bit disturbing in the wrong light. The movements of bowlers are jerky rather than flowing, so the action of a player like Ben Hilfenhaus looks like something out of a bowling machine rather than a real bowler.

As a result of bowling being so hard through a PS4 or XBox One controller, it can sometimes feel dispiriting for a noob to see the computer batsman loft another six over Cow Corner. The situation isn't helped any by fielding in Bradman being so arbitrary. Your slips drop catches that professionals ought to be able to lap up, and players in the outfield sometimes watch an off-drive roll past them, then make the decision to run after it, in a village cricket coach's nightmare.

Seasoned gamers will be used to adding in unlicenced names to the game using either a downloadable edit file or manual editing, but be aware that you'll have to change the names of some players for which the official deals proved elusive.

All these flaws mean Bradman is short of being a 100% realistic cricket sim.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: The Verdict
Don Bradman Cricket 17 is a good attempt at capturing the real-life fun of top-level cricket in a video-game simulation. The game is great at sketching out the vicissitudes of a cricketing career, as well as effectively showing what it's really like to have to switch between different forms of cricket, and to play at different venues.

The problems come in the lack of intuition shown by the AI players, and the difficulty in becoming good at some fundamental aspects of cricket, such as bowling. If you want to play cricket on your console and you're willing to make some compromises, Bradman is probably right for you. If you are expecting an experience indivisible from being out in the middle in real life, wait on.

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