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Brian Lara’s cricket ’96 logo

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries.

Runs on: A500, A600, A1200
Authors: In-house
Publisher: Audiogenic
Price: £20
Release: Out now

P Brian Lara’s cricket ‘96 eople think it's an easy life reviewing computer games: It is and it isn't. It is easy when compared to mining coal or working in McDonald's, it isn't easy when it's compared to doing nothing. Which is what most computer game reviewers would rather be doing. Nothing. We're a lazy bunch of cynical so-and-sos by and large.

So join... Oh excuse me. I've got to sign for this large package the ever-cheerful Phil the postman's brought me. Hmm... It's addressed to 'The LEadEr, AmmigGA POWere', how strange. Anyway...

So join me as I lounge in my large and comfortable chair, feet idly resting in the middle of a pile of Amiga Format's paperwork which I am gradually covering in dust, oral needs satisfied by a coffee and a doughnut (I'm sooooo American when I want to be) and cast a jaundiced eye over Audiogenic's 'new' cricket game. "New"? you say, "why the quotes?" Ah, you cheeky little tinker of a reader you, you know very well why the quotes. It's because we've been here before, oh I don't know how many times, reviewing Audiogenic's 'new' cricket game, whether it's been called Graham Gooch Cricket, Imran Khan Cricket, Test Match Special, Brian Lara Cricket or, indeed as it is now, Brian Lara Cricket '96. And they've all been the same bloody game. And your cynical, jaundiced reviewer (who nonetheless is glad not to be working in McDonald's) has been asked to review nearly all of them, having been identified by the AP team early on as 'interested in sport'. Which I've learned has, in the same way as worrying about becoming inexorably more like your father, a lot more to do with getting older (I used to hate watching sport but now find the spectacle of people doing things I'll never be able to do as opposed to things I can't be bothered to do strangely fascinating) than anything else. But I digress.

Brian Lara’s cricket ‘96 So is there... I'm sorry. Is that you ticking or is it me? No, obviously, it's neither of us, but I could have sworn I heard something. Oh, never mind...

So is there any point to this re-release or is it just another part of Audiogenic's plan to squeeze every last penny they can out of the Amiga games player even if it means making him 'accidentally' buy a game he's bought already just because it's got a new name? Well, in a definite break with tradition, Audiogenic have improved their cricket game. For instance, the rather charming bug that's been in every previous release of this game where the wicket keeper always throws the ball for a four if he's forced to field it himself in a sort of petulant, I-don't-want-to-play-this- game-any-more sort of way has been removed. Now somebody comes in to cover for him and he throws it to them. Well done. And you can field the ball yourself AND CHOOSE WHICH END TO THROW IT TO in a way that you never could before. And there's now a rather nifty thing whenever you're batting that as well as moving the joystick to select the shot you want to take you can now press the fire button if you want a little extra 'oomph' from your batsmen which means that the ball will either fly for a boundary or straight into the hands of a waiting fielder, which is useful when you're playing a limited over game, for instance.

Brian Lara’s cricket ‘96 And now when you're caught there's a chance that the fielder might drop you (which I certainly don't REMEMBER from any of the earlier versions of this game) and that makes it more fun to play too. And the batsmen are just a little cleverer than they were before and don't tend to fall for that old trick of bowling them a bouncer every ball and placing your fielders in a sort of doughnut shape around them (they used to swipe wildly and get caught). And there's also a clever disk cache thing in place, the details of which I won't bore you with but which cuts down considerably on disk accessing (if you have more than 1Mb of memory).

In short... It's this package! It's blooming ticking. It's a bomb. Quick. Don't panic. Erm. I know! I'll throw it into the carpark where the advertising staff keep their shiny new company cars. Phew...

In short everything that could have been done to make Brian Lara Cricket '96 the definitive Audiogenic cricket sim has been done. It's been tidied up, sorted out and dusted down. Just as the Amiga as a games machine coughs its last fleck of blood up from it's diseased chest and slumps its head to the floor, 'Nads.

And now to the difficult part of being a games reviewer: deciding on the score. There's a part of me that wants to shout "Oh you sad, cretinous ignoramuses, why has it taken you several YEARS to sort out this game that could always have been this good and instead foisted a succession of bug-ridden, flawed versions on us until we were sick of it. I'm going to give you 20% and let that be a warning to you." And likewise there's a part of me that wants to say "the best Amiga cricket sim in the world just got even better, a game that's delighted and dazzled a generation of gamesplayers has been given the slickest polish yet - well done Audiogenic - 90%". But only because I wanna get quoted on the box.
Steve Faragher

Amiga Power, Issue 65, September 1996, p.p.22-23

Everything works perfectly smoothly and there're a couple of new options that make a marked, if small, difference to the game..
Still essentially the same game that we gave away on our coverdisk two issues ago and I don't really think that's a good enough reason to spend £20, so...

If you're the sort of person who's already bought all five versions of this then you'll be as cheesed off as me. If on the other hand you're the sort of person who's never heard of an Audiogenic cricket sim, you'll love this. So 20%+90%=110%, divided by two makes: [muffled 'booooom' from the carpark outside]