Cricket games on the Amiga always appear to be hit and miss affairs (pun intended). It's not the fact that cricket is a minority sport when compared to the likes of football and rugby. It's just that the games generally take the form of simulations. This narrows down the appeal (pun intended) by a tremendous amount, as the game is only going to attract Amiga owners with an interest in the game of cricket itself. You can't just pick up a bat and slog some balls about - you've got to get into the 'boring' bit too.
By a general consensus of opinion in the office, real cricket ultimately receives the 'yawn' treatment, although having said that, the chances of an office worker being able to settle down at a cricket match while being covered from head-to-toe in sun-cream and sipping a pint of bitter are pretty remote these days.
You either have to be unemployed or retired, and as the unemployed shouldn't be wasting their benefits on cricket it all boils down to being old and wrinkly. Now, how many of your granddads own Amigas? Hmm.
Cricket is, and always will be, the best alternative to football and rugby. While the latter two are settled in just under an hour and a half, cricket takes at least a day to finish. And while the excitement is non-stop during a football match, often leaving you unbelievably drained as you leave the ground at the final whistle, cricket is a nice relaxing sport where you have to do absolutely nothing apart from applaud after the occasional over. It's a treat.
It's quite easy to confuse Brian Lara's Cricket with another game by Audiogenic - if you can remember Graham Gooch's World Class Cricket, you'll know this is the same game. With Goochie recently having retired from test cricket, a new endorsement was needed, and after Brian Lara notched up his memorable 500-something runs against England, and consequently joined Warwickshire, he must have seemed a very likely candidate to star in his hown game.
Actually, I now remember where this game came from. About four months ago we heard about a new Audiogenic cricket release which would be the sequel to Goochie's, and to be honest we were all expecting something completely different.
However, when the preview version finally made its way to us - it was provisionally going to be called 'Imran Kahn's Cricket', we noticed that the number of changes were very slight, and apart from the updated teams and player names, were almost unnoticeable. At the preview stage there is always plenty room for improvement and change, although when we got this version we were surprised to say the least.
You can't just pick up a bat and slog some balls about - you've got to get into the boring bit too
The first noticeable aspect was of course the game's title. As it's called Brian Lara Cricket we expected to see him make an appearance. Nope, the manual clearly states that due to technical problems, skin colour was to be predominantly white. Bit of a shame that as many cricket players are indeed coloured, including the entire West Indian side.
When it loaded up I couldn't see any changes whatsoever. There were no graphical changes but at least the game had been made harder. The computer opponent got me all out for about 15, and consequently bettered my innings in the first over, although I'm probably a bit rubbis... er... rusty, that's the word.
Overall, Brian Lara's offer at least a few changes for the better. Firstly, there is the option to change fielding to manual control so you can finally run after the ball and choose which wicket to throw it to,.
The batting has also improved and it's now possible to place the ball where you actually want it to go. And, by holding the fire button you can add height to your shot, thereby adding a further degree of realism.
There is an arcade mode, so all the bland averages don't take effect, and your chances of having a 'good knock' are increased as the players are all given the same rating. All the test and county sides are on-disk together, although you do have to go through a bizarre ritual before you can use them.
The last change is simply that it's a bit faster at loading during overs and things, although to be honest, I didn't notice.
If you've played Goochie's Cricket and felt there were a few bugs worth ironing out, it may be time to 'upgrade' to Brian Lara's. The word 'upgrade' is probably a bit misleading, however, as you have to shell out £30 for the privilege. I feel a data disk would've been a much more realistic option.