Fishing games. What’s the point? Why create a simulation of what is almost the last sport not to have in indoor variant, and for a very good reason? These are questions I asked myself whilst waiting for Rapala Fishing Pro Series, the new title from Maximum Games, to install.
I should point out that my own experience of fishing has been limited to 2 hours on a boat in St Lucia, sitting in a chair in direct sunlight and 45o temperatures whilst a man threw buckets of entrails into the water. Not a bite. Didn’t even see a live fish.
So, it was with worried heart that I grabbed my substantial tacklebox and sat down to experience the joys of fishing via Dualshock.
The game throws you straight into the tutorial, with an overly positive American gentleman pointing you on your way. I should point out that the entire game is US-based, no sitting quietly on the banks of your local stream nodding at passing dog-walkers; you’re in a boat, which you gun across the water looking for fishing “hot spots” that you can mark on your map for future reference. I have to say that there is almost NO fun to be had piloting the boat; it’s a big lake with very little in it, barring the occasional rower or other fishing boat, and driving full pelt into them doesn’t seem to bother them in the slightest. I should know, it was the first thing I tried – and there is a trophy for pushing another boat a certain distance with your own. Anyway, the tutorial does cover the fundamentals perfectly well, although with some attempts at humour which caused a grimace.
Once you’ve selected your watery attack zone, it’s time to cast. A simple back and forth, hit-the-sweet-spot-with-X system determines the accuracy of your cast, much like taking a swing on numerous golf games, in fact. The difference here is that it doesn’t seem to make much discernible difference other than to the commentary on your performance. Which you can turn off, thank you.
The Lure Of The Wild
Once your lure is in the water, you waggle it about to attract fish. Now, each lure has its own special waggle; a combination of left, right and down on the left stick. When you buy a new lure, the waggle is a secret and you have to work it out, but as this takes a good 10 seconds and the moves then appear on screen for reference afterwards, this is a rather pointless addition to the process. Anyway, you waggle your lure until a fish bites; it won’t take long, these waters teem like the barrier reef.
Fish on the line! Now the exciting music starts, a troupe of Japanese Yamato Drummers pounding themselves into a frenzy as you endeavour to pull in your fish. Keeping the line taught and moving the left stick to keep the fish centred in the screen for long enough gives you a “reel boost”, allowing you to yank your catch further towards you – get it close enough to the boat and our Positive American enthuses or commiserates dependent on the weight.
And that’s it, in a nutshell. Sure – there’s solo play, with targets that give you bonus money, and tournaments for you to enter in a bid to become the numero uno fishing-person (both genders are represented, although other physical alterations to your avatar’s facial features are limited – and they ALL look like serial killers). There’s a shop in which you can buy new lures and line and rods and boats and there are several lakes with various types of fish, and the (slightly retro polygon-style) scenery will be slightly different each time. There are daily and weekly online challenges, online scoreboards, sponsorship and all sorts of clothing. So there’s content aplenty. Just no CONTENT to what you’re doing.
But that’s fishing, I guess – by its nature a fairly repetitive pastime, when distilled down into the mile-a-minute, keep-your-attention style that is the computer game form. The way I see it (and I’ve spoken to people who know more about it than I), the purpose of fishing is varied; it is man vs beast, it is the community, and it is a chance to spend some time in the great outdoors with your thoughts and a really big thermos. Rapala Fishing Pro Series provides none of these things. It’s not bad – it’s a budget game, it’s not going to look or play like Horizon Zero Dawn – but a game about fishing is never going to set the world on fire.
A bit heavy on the Bass.
Neither leaping majestically upstream to the Playstation spawning grounds, nor laying lifeless on ice in Morrisons – Rapala Fishing Pro Series reels in a 5/10 and receives a Thumb Culture Bronze Award
A special thanks to Justin Barber for putting this review together. He is an admin from one of many Facebook groups available for gamers to go and post their questions and thoughts. If you want to pop over and join the group then head over to PS4 Gaming UK and say hi!