Reviewed: December 7, 2002
Released: October 31, 2002
First, let me qualify this review by saying that I do not enjoy fishing. I’ve gone fishing on several occasions in my youth, mainly on family camping trips or those father/son weekends, and I found the entire experience boring – and this was before video games even existed. The fact that somebody has made a game about this dubious sport totally escapes me.
I believe there are two types of people in the world; those who like fishing and those who don’t, and the people who enjoy wading through streams or floating across lakes with hundreds of dollars of gear, tackle, underwater radar, etc. probably don’t play video games. Bill Dance probably doesn’t even know what a PS2 is, and if you know who Bill Dance is then you already know too much about fishing. You should stop reading and go hook up that worm in your pocket.
I’m no stranger to video fishing. I took a whack at Sega’s Bass Fishing game on the Dreamcast several years ago and found it to be nearly as boring as the real thing. At least with video fishing you can still have a group of your buddies all gathered together drinking beer without having to drag your butt out of bed at 4am or risk falling out of the boat. Now Agetec comes along trying to prove that “real fisherman do play video games” with Fisherman’s Bass Club, a PS2 alternative to the sport.
In this 3D fishing simulation you will fight some of the toughest freshwater sports fish around. You get to select your favorite fishin' hole and hone your skills as a fisherman in your multiple bids to win each tournament. You'll discover the right lures for your personal style of fishing and come back with load after load of prize-winning Bass!
Again, I have to ask myself, do real-life fisherman play video games and if they do, are they going to fish on their TV or head to the nearest river or lake. Assuming you find that rare and progressive individual who does fish at home you can up the realism by unplugging your Dual Shock and pluggin in Agetec's Bass Landing controller. Ahhh! You'll feel the fights from the second you hook'em to the moment you add 'em to your basket with this custom little rig! Keep in mind the controller actually costs more than the game and you won’t be using it to play any other games. This is more of a novelty item or perhaps a great gift for the fisherman who has everything.
Fisherman's Bass Club features:
Fisherman's Bass Club features a tutorial mode that teaches you a bit about bait selection and the fine art of casting. In this particular sport you just don’t hook a worm and splash a bobber into the lake and wait. You actually have to pick enticing lures based on current weather and time of day. You have to lets these lures sink to proper depths then slowly reel them in giving the occasional jerk or twitch to catch the eye of any nearby fish. You also get to learn about the fish themselves and how they prefer shallow water during some parts of the day then move to deeper water at others, or how they like to hang out near underwater objects.
Hooking a fish is the easy part, well…not really, but once you do snare that bass you are in for a power struggle of epic proportions. We’re not talking Ahab versus the whale or anything, but you do engage in a battle with the fish where you must work to wear down their stamina without snapping your line. This is done by moving your virtual rod with the fish’s movement and keeping an eye on the tension meter of your line. Easier said than done. It took me nearly two hours to catch my first fish and that was after I had worn him down by “allowing” him to escape four times previously. If he only knew my master plan (insert evil, drunken fisherman’s laugh here).
Surprisingly, it’s not too hard to locate escaped fish, as their stamina meter shows the drain from any previous battles. What is surprising is that these fish are stupid enough to keep falling for the same lure. Of course, in real life fishing we don’t have the luxury of underwater views or stamina bars on our fish. Unless you are using a fish finder then fishing is more about luck than anything. Bass Club removes that variable and lets you see exactly where your lure drops and the route it takes back to your boat.
On the surface, and I mean surface in the most literal of terms, the graphics are pretty generic. You have a good variety of fishing locations to visit in your “world tour” but they don’t look all that difference. There is a nice shimmering water effect with reflections and plenty of trees, bridges, structures, and other objects to attract the fish and snare your line.
Things get a bit better underwater with some murky effects that give you a good illusion of depth and variable visibility based on the depth and your lack of light. There is a good dust effect when your lure scrapes bottom or bounces over a rock. The fish are wonderful, modeled and textured to perfect realism and animated with incredible accuracy. You’d swear these are real fish when you see them attacking your lure then struggling against your attempts to reel them in.
The menus are simple yet functional, and the in-game HUD provides you with more information that you would ever have in the real world, at least without a lot of expensive hardware. You have your temperature and your bait selection along with a clock and pound counter for the tournament modes.
The music is simple and forgettable and blends harmlessly into the background. There are some moments when the fish is alerted and starts chasing down your lure that the music become more suspenseful before kicking in during the struggle section of the game.
Sound effects are good but there just isn’t a lot of opportunity for sound in a fishing game. In real-life, fishing is about being quiet so you don’t “scare the fish”, so aside from the occasional pop and hiss of a beer can opening and talking to anyone who happens to be with you, fishing is a silent sport. It’s no different on the PS2, but when you do hear the plop of the lure hitting the water or the whiz of you reeling in the bait; hopefully with a fish stuck on it, it all sounds real.
There are plenty of locations and challenges waiting for anyone who would enjoy a game such as this. The trivia is a nice feature that will test your real-life knowledge of the sport and may prove challenging, even for the experience fisherman in the family. Most of the answers can be learned by completing the tutorial.
There are plenty of bonus goodies to unlock like fishing gear. You get these by winning tournaments and trophies. The nature of fishing is a fairly random activity so this game will provide endless hours of entertainment for anyone who finds fishing entertaining.
I know I’ve been fairly cynical this entire review, so let me make up for it here. If you enjoy fishing and you enjoy playing video games then you are a rare breed. Nonetheless, you need to add 2-3 points to my score then run right out and get Fisherman’s Bass Club because you won’t find a better fishing game for your PS2. Is there another one?
The game is only $15-19 just about anywhere and if you are serious enough to want to play this game then make sure to splurge on the Agetec fishing controller for the ultimate experience. For everyone else out there; this game will seem as alien to you as any mundane task ranking right up there with the latest “Mowing the Lawn” or “Washing the Car” simulation.