The gods have listened! Finally, we have a playable massively multilayer online cricket game! Howzat is a free online cricket league developed by the Singapore based Game Ventures. It’s not easy, to take a game as complicated as Cricke,t and make it simple enough for a browser based game, without losing all its charm. And that’s the task Game Ventures had at their hand. They needed the game to be simple, easy to learn and at the same time addictive. So how did they fare? Let us find out.
Creating a new account is quick and simple. Howzat integrates itself with Facebook and actively encourages you to challenge other friends or share match results. While signing-up, you will be asked to name your team and choose a country. Due to licensing issues real player names aren’t used. However, the names aren’t as ludicrous as in some of the other games. If you wish you can manually edit player names later on.
Batting in Howzat is straightforward. One the opponent has picked a delivery, you will be provided time to adjust your batsman’s position in the crease (left or right). After this, you can play a stroke by simply selecting the area through which you wish to hit and pressing Z (normal shot) or X (lofted shot). Timing matters, but the game is a lot more forgiving than some of the other PC based games.
Normally, bowling is the least interesting part of a cricket game. Thankfully, Howzat has succeeded in making bowling fun. The bowling mechanism is simple yet effective. Howzat’s bowling meter is a combination of the swing/spin gauge and speed gauge. It is divided into three zones – each of which indicates the direction of movement of the ball. Each individual zone is differentially coloured to indicate delivery speed. Select reddish region if you want to bowl a quickie. Use the yellow region for delivering slower balls. Fielding is completely automatic.
The overall gameplay is quite good. Each match is of 5 overs. Shots are a bit limited and mostly go in the same direction. But, this handicap is compensated through the limited field settings available.
You win points for completing a game. The amount of points you win depends upon the rank of your opposition, result of the match as well as your performance. There are various achievements (such as getting a hattrick or scoring more than 50 runs in a match) and level ups to keep you going. You can use the points to improve the skills of individual players.
The graphics are what you would expect from a Flash game. It isn’t great, but it doesn’t look silly. For a game that is a few MBs in size, Howzat offers a decent level of realism. Surprisingly enough, it is the multiplayer aspect which disappoints. There is no way to create your own tournaments or leagues. All you can do is participate in individual matches. If Howzat expects users to keep going this is something they must include in the future.
In the end Howzat is a fairly engaging game available at an unbeatable price. The gameplay as well as presentation is quite good. Kudos to Howzat, for at least trying. If you are a cricket fan, go ahead and give it a try. You may just get hooked.