Launching to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Brian Lara 2007 promises to expand on the success of the 2005 smash hit, and for the first time will be appearing on next-gen hardware in the form of the Xbox 360.

The game has secured the official ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 license so expect to see real life players such as Andrew Flintoff, Ricky Ponting, Muttiah Muralitharan and Brian Lara. The game will also feature a dedicated ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 mode, with all the teams, stadia, kits and equipment from the tournament. You'll also get a fully licensed ICC Champions' Trophy competition, as well as exhibition matches for One Day Games, Test Matches, and the non-stop action of 20 over matches.

Brian Lara 2007 will also feature online play in the PC and Xbox 360 versions, adding a whole new competitive element to multiplayer gaming - an area which has always been a strong point for the series.

The easy 'pick up and play' style gameplay will remain, but now with more depth for those that want more options when out on the wicket. New shots will include subtle edges, sweepshots, plus the ability to charge down the wicket to smash the ball away for six. Bowling is also getting an update, with a much improved set of delivery types at the disposal of each bowler, as well as improvements in the way the ball swings in the air and reacts to the pitch. One of my gripes with the last game (not being able to throw the ball back to the bowler) has now been rectified, so watch out for bowler's end run-outs, plus there's an all new slip catch system that will keep the fielding player on his toes.

Codemasters also claim that the game will also boast photo-realistic visuals with hundreds of real life players being realistically modelled, complete with animated facial expressions. Stadia, including all eight World Cup venues, will also be recreated in high detail, and new shader technology will make for realistic changes in light conditions.

Brian Lara International Cricket 2007 is scheduled for release on Xbox 360, PS2 and PC in March 2007. I'm padding up already.

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