The release date for Don Bradman Cricket 17 has been moved forward to Friday, 16th of December for PS4 and Xbox One. It will release on PC at a later date.
As the Australian cricket summer heats up, cricket fans around the world await the arrival of Don Bradman Cricket 17. The sequel from Big Ant Studios to their own highly acclaimed Don Bradman Cricket 14. The biggest question is; can it deliver where the original failed to hit the mark?
Let’s begin by talking about the graphics, one of the bigger complaints from the original. Don Bradman Cricket 17 is still an unlicensed cricket game, and highly relies on community created content to bring you the ultimate cricket experience. For those without an internet connection the game would suffers greatly from odd looking players, it feels as though you are playing with an empty shell. As a big cricket fan you really want to be playing with the athletes you know best. Luckily, like the first game, there is a dedicated community that has been on the job creating cricketing superstars from around the world through the new Don Bradman Cricket 17 academy.
The new Academy not only allows for community created players and umpires, but now features a more in-depth team kit editor, a logo creator, a bat manager and even a fairly bare-bones stadium creator, which gives users the ability to recreate their own local cricket grounds.
When you first boot up the game you get the option to replace all the teams with the best community created recreations of their real life counterparts. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t working at the time of review, so I went through and downloaded a few teams individually to get started. Now while these fan recreations don’t look as solid as the face scanned players in the NBA 2K series, it does allow you to play with pretty good representations of the world’s finest cricketers. It also does a much better job of showing off the design and graphical capabilities of the new game, which again is a step up from its predecessor. Players have a much more realistic look about them, compared to the almost cartoon style of DBC14.
As for how it sounds, the noise it makes when the ball hits the willow is a treat to listen to, although I did feel that at times the crowd lacked a bit of atmosphere. While the commentary isn’t as top class as some other sports games, let’s be real here, does anyone actually listen to what the commentators discuss during all eight hours of a test match?
Now I was running the game on a standard PS4, and there were some small frame drops throughout in-game cut-scenes, but didn’t appear to be a problem throughout gameplay. It is optimised to run a solid 60fps on the PS4 Pro, so if you are looking for the smoother experience, the PS4 Pro seems the way to go. Another negative was the logos on team uniforms looked at a lower resolution than they should (again, might look better on the pro), and during my first few attempts to play a game, I had a few crashes, but there is a patch in the works to address a few of these issues, so not to fear.
The gameplay will have a familiar feel to those who have spent some time with DBC14 but there are still some new mechanics to get around when first jumping on board. If you have no idea what cricket is, or you didn’t try DBC14, there is a training mode that will take you through the basic controls and allow you to get your bearings on the game’s mechanics. It is worth noting that even for more experienced players, it’s still a nice option to try to work on those one or two things to really improve your skill level.
The gameplay can be broken down into three core elements: Batting, Bowling and Fielding. Let’s begin with batting, which is where the first game got it absolutely spot on. The arcade approach of Don Bradman Cricket 14’s pick a direction and swing style batting has changed a little bit. Smarter shot selection becomes a bigger part in the overall makeup of how batting is, which is a logical step forward and eliminates a lot of the previous games pre-meditation, forcing you to react more on the fly in order to be a highly skilled player.
As for the bowling, moving the controls to simpler layout has definitely improved the experience. Bowling no longer feels like a drag, but you feel as though you have a real chance of taking a wicket every ball. It used to be near impossible to “nick out” opposition batsman, boy has that changed. Edges are now much more common for you as a bowler and give you more options with how you plan to bowl.
The fielding has also had some slight tweaks and seems to have fixed many of the movement problems present in DBC14. The new reaction catches put the pressure on, and are fairly simple to master, but the biggest problem remains the ability to stop quick singles and the reaction time of your wicket keeper during run out chances. If you do find yourself struggling with one aspect of the game, there are separate difficulty settings for both batting and bowling allowing you to play at your own pace.
For the first time ever in a cricket game, you can play as female players. The pace of the game is very different and provides a bit of a challenge for even the most experienced players, a nice addition.
The other game modes are the same as Don Bradman Cricket 14, but you will really want to stick around for the expanded Career Mode. For most players, this is where you will spend most of your time, and it comes with a few welcome additions to an already solid game mode. You can now work your way up from your local cricket club all the way up to an international star. There are now way too many leagues to get picked and compete in, so you have much more ability to pick and choose when and where you want your player to play. You can even lift your country to a world championship victory.
Don Bradman Cricket 17 is a solid improvement on Don Bradman Cricket 14 and whilst there isn’t any ground-breaking improvements or dramatic gameplay changes in the sequel, there is enough to keep users satisfied through the Summer and beyond. While there are a few bugs and still a few crashes, the expanded career mode makes this a must buy for any cricket fan. This is the best cricket experience yet.
The PS4 version of this game was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.