A few days ago, Big Ant Studios announced that Don Bradman Cricket will be released in February 2015 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, to the delight of many users on PlanetCricket who had kept their old generation consoles around just to play the game. Today I had a chance to visit Big Ant Studios’ Studio and play Don Bradman Cricket on the PS4.
The experience is extremely familiar to those who have played DBC14 on a good PC – because that’s pretty much what the game is, the game played on a good gaming PC with the graphics set up to high. Don’t mistake this for a new game, this is a port of the existing game to the new consoles, with the ’14’ dropped from the title to indicate that while it’s being released in 2015, it’s not a sequel to the original. It’s just the original, but with a refined experience due to the increase in power that the new consoles bring compared to their previous-gen counterparts.
Compared to the experience on PS3, the game loads much faster and there’s no signs of lag or slowdown – with the game running at a steady 1080p30 on both consoles. 60 frames a second was a goal, but with them unable to maintain that consistently, it was decided to avoid framerate fluctuations by fixing at the lower rate. I would expect that as Big Ant and other developers have more time with the consoles – this will be Big Ant’s first PS4/Xbox One release – they should be able to get more out of them.
Unfortunately the move to 1080p highlights further some of the worse looking aspects of the game – the crowd looks absolutely awful in close shots and some of the stadium textures are noticeably sub-par. The better looking player models are made more stark when you get a close-up of the boundary and crowd at the same time. It might be worth giving console gamers the option PC users have to just switch off the crowd.
There are improvements to the graphics however – there’s an improved lighting system, which makes the environments as the sun goes down look significantly better. The shadows and the transition from day to night look great – which makes me annoyed that I didn’t get a chance to see rain and a cloudy sky in the time I was playing. The ground itself gets a new look as well – there’s a new system for the grass and pitch – with the pitch deterioration taking another step forward, including having more of the area around the pitch coming to life and wearing through a match.
At this stage there’s nothing in the way of gameplay improvements – the game is at the point that the PC version is currently, with the addition of the ability to skip career mode matches at the main career menu, rather than going in to the match and forfeiting – letting you choose to focus on particular formats or tournaments. More is to come – the game will be patched with the same feature updates to come to the current releases as part of the future ‘patch 3′, but those are not on the release version I played today. It’s possible that this might be a day one patch, but that’s not confirmed at this stage.
A PS4 only feature is the ability to use remote play on the PS Vita. This works rather well, apart from the ball occasionally getting a bit lost in the outfield with its small size on the small screen. Otherwise the game nice and responsive and the controls mostly transfer well. As a mix between my clumsy hands on the small Vita buttons, and the use of the touchpad on the back of the device as buttons in the game, I had to use a very uncomfortable grip on the device to avoid hitting the back. This was my first time using the console, so perhaps this is something you could easily get used to (especially with smaller hands), but I personally wouldn’t be wanting to play the game like that for a long period of time. But for the use case of being able to keep playing while someone else wanted to use the TV, or in a different room, it’s a nice option.
So should you get it? The game is a significant step up from the old consoles, performance alone in getting from the menus to playing would be enough for me to want to play it on the new consoles and the game looks a lot better than it does on the PS3/Xbox 360. If you’re currently on a decent PC, unless you prefer gaming on a console, I can’t see a reason to make the move over. This release simply fills the gap that the new consoles had of a cricket game – it’s the Don Bradman Cricket 14 you know and in my view that’s a good thing.