Game: Big Bash 2016
Platforms: iOS, Android
Ah, Australia Day. The sound of snags sizzling on the barbie, splashes from pools, and of course, backyard cricket.
However, if you don’t have anyone to celebrate Australia Day, you could play cricket on Big Bash 2016, a game based on the cricket tournament of the same name.
I suppose this is going to need an explanation for my international readers.
Cricket is a sports game where one team bats while the other fields. The fielding team has one player bowl the ball to a batsman on the pitch, who then hits the ball with his bat before running up and down the pitch to score “runs”. The batsmen keep running in the time it takes the fielders to return the ball to the bowler. If a batsmen hits it high, and it rolls over the field’s boundary, that is automatically counted as 4 runs, and a “full” hit over the boundary is automatically counted as 6. Batsmen are “out” if a ball of theirs is caught, or if the ball hits one of the two wickets on the pitch before the batsmen crosses the “crease” (a white line before the wicket). If the batting team loses 10 wickets (10 batsmen get out) the teams switch sides, and the old fielding team (the new batting team) attempts to chase down the run total set by the old batting team.
The Big Bash is not a brawler, beat-em-up game, but the name of a T20 cricket competition in Australia, where each city competes in a tournament competition. T20 means 20 overs per side – each over consists of 6 balls, so the teams have to score the highest score they can from 120 balls.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s focus on the game.
You first choose a team (which are all fully licensed as well, which is nice), and then launch into either a quick-play game or the tournament. What is very cool is that the game offers both men and women play modes. You can also choose whether to bat or bowl first, although I think a randomiser option would have been nice, or a coin toss option like how the real-life games do it. You can also choose how many overs you play, with a variety of intervals from 2 to 20.
Bowling is nice and simplistic for the touch screen interface, it’s as easy as dragging a marker to the position you want to bowl to and then swiping up to determine the speed of the ball. You don’t actually get to control any of the fielders, but I think that was the right decision here: field control would be much too finnicky on a mobile device. However, I do think the ability to manually change the field layout would have been nice; the game randomizes (to an extent) the position of the fielders, and although that adds strategy to the bowling, the option to change the fielding position would have been a welcome addition.
Batting is even more simple, it just requires swiping in the direction you want the ball to go. The faster the swipe, the faster the ball. Runs are automatic based on ball position, which I think was also the right decision: you simply wouldn’t be able to get a good enough view of the field to determine when to run on such a small screen.
My only real complaint (the other minor things I’ve mentioned are nitpicks, really) is with the difficulty. The “normal difficulty” is ridiculously easy, my records were 3/630 for batting, which is impossible in real T20 cricket – for reference, 180 runs is a tough score to beat, the current record is about 220. In One Day Internationals, which are 50 overs, 350 runs is a tough score to beat. It’s just way too easy to smash 6s in the normal mode. I could forgive this, but it doesn’t get much better, my record on the next difficulty, “Pro”, was 10/348, which is better (I was bowled all out) but I’m still scoring ridiculously high. And then “Legend” difficulty is just ridiculous, because the bowler bowls these awful slow balls that are impossible to judge in determining when to swing. It’s so frustrating, it’s like the computer is giving you an underarm bowl. Some slower balls are expected, but not that slow. I would have much preferred that the force of the batsmen was toned down in the higher difficulty, so that 1s and 2s were more common than 6s, and where you hit the ball actually mattered and has a higher probability of being caught out, along with proper bowling. Instead, the highest difficulty feels unfair and is not much fun, and the lower difficulties are too easy and not fun. This game had so much potential for longevity, for thrilling games on the highest difficulty, but instead it just misses the mark.
Overall, I have no doubt that Big Bash 2016 deserves the title of a good game. Unfortunately, its difficulty problems cause this game to just fall short of greatness. I’m giving Big Bash 2016 3.5/5 objectively, and 3.5/5 subjectively.
+ Great control scheme for mobile devices
+ Fully licensed and inclusive of the women’s league
+ Allows wide range of game play times in the choice of overs
– Unbalanced difficulty modes hinders longevity of the game
– Nitpicks: no randomiser for play order; no ability to edit field layout