playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

A.P.I Review: Brian Lara Cricket
Developer: Codemasters OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Codemasters 1-2 Player
Game Type: Cricket Sim Memory Card
Review Date: Decemeber 1998 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

International cricketer Brian Lara is renowned as the greatest batsman of the '90s. Born in Trinidad, Lara captained the West Indies this year at International level and made a return to English County Cricket captaining for Warwickshire.

He holds the World Test Cricket record of 375 runs, the County Cricket record of 501 runs not out. In 48 tests he has scored 10 centuries in 4,133 runs at an average of 51.66. Lara was described as "The most sublimely gifted batsman on the planet" in The Independent on Sundays Sports Review of the Year.

Lara headlines and stars in this Codemasters game. It also features an advanced form of in-game commentary by two leading names in the cricket field: Geoff Boycott and Jonathan Agnew.


This video game is based on 220-years old rules that govern the game of cricket all over the world drawn up by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1788.

Brian Lara Cricket is a number one sports video game brand, first published on Sega Mega Drive in May 1995. The original game featured international teams and became an immediate chart number one achieving record sales of over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. It went on to become the best-selling video game on any format from July through to September of that year.

Brian Lara Cricket '96, which introduced County Cricket and World Cup competition, repeated the original's success with a number one chart placing and is one of the few titles still available for the Sega Mega Drive today.

Now the time has finally arrived for the Playstation version.


I think that you'll get some idea how realistic this game looks when I tell you that the rather tasty intro has been constructed using in-game shots. Why use film footage from the archives when the motion captured visuals are this good?

Graphically Brian Lara Cricket is a peach. Every player seems to have their individual mannerisms programmed in to the game. The batsmen don't just stand there like lame targets... they fidget, wander down the wicket, flatten a few lumps in the pitch, look around at the field placings ... it's remarkable. Bowlers wander up to the crease and make their mark before nonchalantly dragging their feet to their start point as if to conserve energy... before tearing down the field at top speed and launching the solid projectile towards the twitching batsman. Even the umpires stand with hands fidgeting behind their back before motioning to the scoreboard that a boundary has been struck.

As far as camera angles go I wouldn't advise straying from the default setting. It is positioned at a three quarter angle in line with both sets of wickets, very similar to the preferred TV set up. It works perfectly for both batting and bowling, although can be a little distant when fielding. Should you wish to tamper with the visual line then there are many variations such as two side cameras (can't judge the line and length), helmet camera (can't see the ball pitch), blimp camera (too far away for accurate striking), reverse camera (difficult to see the ball when pitched in line with the stumps), two batsman, slips, umpire, boundary, mid-on, bowler, aerial and action camera. Phew, I think we can say that every angle has been covered there. There is also the option to watch an action replay each delivery.

Played in a stunning 3D panoramic environments and complete with motion-captured movement delivering fluid player animation, the visual appearance of the game mirrors the more popular way cricket is televised. Brian Lara Cricket will continue the Lara brand reputation of being the best adaptation of the English sport for gaming systems.

Sounds and Effects

Don't expect to hear any music in this game... that just wouldn't be cricket! However the sound effects have been captured and presented perfectly. As the bowler slowly paces back to his mark the gentle mumble and muttering of the crowd can always be heard. This eases slightly when the bowler begins his run up and explodes into rapturous cheers when a boundary has been struck.

Two of the leading names in the cricket field, Geoff Boycott and Jonathan Agnew, do a splendid job of setting the scene before each game commenting on team selection, match history, weather conditions and state of the pitch. Try to listen attentively for a few tips on whether to bat or field first. Once play begins they have quite a selection of stories that are both interesting and comical. Overall the commentary is fairly accurate but does tend to repeat itself during the longer games.


The options screen offers a multitude of game styles, facts and figures that should keep even the most avid boffins satisfied for weeks on end. You want statistics? Then check out the Teams file where every single current test player's bat, field or bowling statistics are included for the Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe teams.

Within the Settings menu the player can customize his game. Pitch types can be damp, green, normal, dusty or random. Weather and 'slog mode' may be switched on/off, while skill levels accommodate all players from the local village, county or test match standard. Progress and results of every game that you take part in may be added to the archives files by simply saving all records and game stats onto the performance tracking memory card facility.

Of course wading around masses of facts and figures may not exactly be your cup of tea, therefore we will move right on to the heart of the action... playing the game. I suggest a visit to the practice nets would be a sensible introduction. Yes... you do practice in nets... just like the real deal. You can improve your skills as a left or right handed batsman where a selection of strokes are available from killing the ball dead defensively to smashing it for six. Bowling practice caters for off spinners, leg spinners, fast, medium fast and swing.

If you are one of those players who cannot wait to get straight into the action then the Quickstart option will allow you to dive immediately into a game with minimal fuss. For those who wish to choose the specific style of cricket match then choose from: Friendly, World Cup, World Series, Knockout or a Test Series. There's also the option to change the course of history by taking part in a Classic Match. There are ten in all which range from the historical England vs Australia in 1948, to the more modern Pakistan vs Sri Lanka in the nineties.

Obviously you may not want to remain sitting in front of the TV screen for a full six game, five day test series therefore the length of each game, or series, can be a adjusted to suit your preferences. Should you decide on playing through a test series a helpful map is available highlighting the location of each venue.

Before each game the match conditions are displayed showing weather, cloud, climate and pitch conditions. To help you decide on your first main decision - the toss of a coin - Geoff Boycott and Jonathan Agnew summarize and offer helpful hints on the best way to play on a particular ground.

Playing the game is relatively simple. You must first decide whether you wish to control your fielders when bowling, or leave this to the CPU. Should you choose to do this then the fielder nearest the ball will react to your joypad commands allowing him to dive, chase or catch the ball. I would seriously advise you to leave this to the CPU until all other aspects of the game have been well practised.

To begin bowling you must first select the type of bowler you wish to use from your squad of players. A small icon, that is directed by the D-pad, will constantly move around on the pitch in front of the batsman. It's your decision where you want the bowler to pitch the ball but don't wait too long as the icon begins to waver. Button use depends on the type of bowler. Fast/Medium Fast players use one button for a normal deliver and one for a slower ball, while tapping the triangle increases his pace. Swing bowlers use again use three face buttons but this time to in-swing, out-swing and bowl a straight bowl. Other bowlers have googlies, flippers, leg-spins, off spins and arm balls in their repertoire while the triangle is used to vary speed and flight.

As mentioned fielding is quite difficult for beginners but it does add to your involvement in the game when bowling. As soon as the ball has been struck you take control of the nearest fielder with face buttons allowing actions such as diving, sliding and selecting fielder. Once the ball has been gathered the ball may be thrown to either wicket.

Batting involves lining up and striking the ball a cleanly as possible with your repertoire of strokes. Once you have seen the spot where the bowler is intending to pitch the ball your batsman can be lined up in the correct stance. A quick glance at the on-screen radar allows you to check the fielders position and then pick your spot by holding down the directional pad. Choices of shot include a normal shot, defensive stroke, duck/leave ball and hot an almighty six hit. As soon as the ball leaves the bat the face buttons quickly switch configuration allowing the batsman to start a run or turn around in mid-run.

That's basically it. Simple control system that only uses the face buttons making BLC a game that everyone could pick up and play after a few sessions in the nets.

Value for Money

A couple of weeks ago we received the complete version of this stunning title. At first we were 'stumped' as to why the once excellent Mega Drive version had taken so long to arrive on console format. Was it going to be a lame 'duck'?

All was forgiven once the game was loaded up. We were completely 'bowled over' by the almost TV quality graphics... it could almost have been 'maiden 'Heaven. In fact I would go as far as saying that it stretches the 'boundaries' of the Playstation further than any other sports title seen to date.

Brian Lara Cricket is sure to hit gamers for an almighty 'six'.

GRAPHICS: 19/20 It has been a long, long wait for the Playstation's first cricket sim but it has all proved worthwhile as Brian Lara Cricket is a stunning title... in both gameplay and visuals.

The control system is complicated enough to offer a wide range of strokes and bowling actions, while remaining relatively simplistic to operate.

The graphics and commentary are so good that I am sure someone could be fooled into believing that they were watching a televised broadcast.

Following in the footsteps of Micro Machines V3 and TOCA Touring Cars couldn't have been easy but with BLC, TOCA 2 and Music, Codemasters have yet to slip up on the Playstation. Congratulations.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 18/20


    GAMES        Get your PSX games HERE!