All Out Cricket’s review of the Don Bradman 17 video game for PS4 and Xbox One.
Upon its release Don Bradman Cricket 14 received widespread acclaim, not least from this publication. So, three years on, what’s changed? What is there to persuade you to upgrade to Don Bradman 17 if you bought the old one, or to buy this instead of the cheaper, earlier version if you’re just starting out?
The great strength of the original – the revolutionary gameplay – has remained largely intact, and for the most part improvements have been made where needed, not least in the copious new single-player features.
While batting, foot movement is controlled by the left analog stick – allowing you to respond to the line and length of the ball, play forward or back, and move across your stumps as desired – and the right analog controls shot direction. Pressing combinations of other buttons allows you to play aggressive aerial shots, advance down the pitch, or even scoop the ball. The major change is in how much easier it is to edge the ball, which makes the game more realistic, and bowling to a slip cordon a legitimate tactic.
Have a peak at some of the gameplay below.
Bowling-wise, you choose the length and type of delivery during your run-up, and then determine the line, flight, and spin by precise movements of the analog sticks. This is the tricky part. Get it slightly wrong and you could end up seeing a loopy full toss disappear over mid-wicket or your keeper dive forlornly down the leg-side.
It takes time to fully master the controls – as you would hope; it wouldn’t be much fun if they were too easy – but setting the difficulty level to ‘Rookie’ gives even a complete beginner a chance to be competitive. It’s a great party game, but then so was Don Bradman Cricket 14. It’s the greatly expanded solo mode that really warrants you spending your hard-earned cash.
The player creator is more comprehensive, and there’s a brand new logo editor and stadium creator. As before there are no licensed player names, but since you can download the best community-created content, giving you easy access to the full international rosters and grounds, this isn’t really an issue.
The enhanced career mode is the jewel in the crown. You’ll now begin at a local club and work your way up to earning international recognition, with players retiring, getting injured or losing form as you progress. The option of playing through while controlling a whole team rather than just one player is also welcome. You could get lost in this for days.
The game does have its issues. Mastering fielding remains something of a mystery – silly-point might snaffle a nailed cut shot, or the keeper might fail to break the stumps five times in a row – but it can be set to automatic so as not to interfere with the experience.
Still, Don Bradman Cricket 17 is a triumph. What was good before has been retained and the gameplay improvements are welcome, while the vastly enriched solo options make this the most immersive cricket video game of all time. Truly the Bradman of its genre.
Don Bradman Cricket is available now and we’ve even got hold of some copies that AOC readers can win for free. For your chance, enter here.
THE AOC ASHES
VENUE: The Kia Oval
DATE: March 21, 2017
In a five-over super smash commercial manager Josh (Australia) is fast out of the blocks, racking up 102-8. “I thought I’d cracked the bowling but in the end the bowling cracked me,” says writer Ben (England). “I just couldn’t handle the pressure and the wides and half-volleys flowed.”
Ben digs deep and comes out all guns blazing in reply, repeatedly dispatching Josh through point. Still, with 18 needed off two balls, Josh appears home and hosed, until a late twist… “Josh just couldn’t figure out how to break the stumps and I just kept running, and running. Eleven off the penultimate ball!”
With seven needed from the final delivery, Ben times the pants off it but the ball falls just short of the rope, leaving England three short. Heartbreak for the hosts. The Ashes return to Australia.