Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009ESRB:
Developer - Fun Labs
Publisher - Activision Value
Number of Players: 1
Required Hard Disk Space: 1.2 MB
It has been quite some time since I last played a fishing-based video game. Years ago I spent many hours playing Sega Bass Fishing 2 on the Dreamcast. The fact you could also purchase a actual fishing controller made the experience all the more enjoyable. Not having followed the fishing game genre in many years, I was very curious to see how far they have come when Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 for the PS3 showed up at my home office. Well after a few hours into the game it is clear this game does not necessarily redefine the fishing genre by any stretch. Nevertheless it does have something to offer those looking to put their angling skills to the test.
Aside from the dated looking opening menu screen, the visuals in Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 are actually not that bad at all. Granted it is not quite as sharp as the visuals we typically in other next generation games from Activision over the past couple years, however the overall look is solid.
When you first fire up the game, you will notice a dated looking menu screen which appears more last-gen than next. This was actually quite a let down for me as I was anticipating a flashy opening scene to get me in the mood to hook, line and sink some bass. The next screen displays the selection screen which, on a positive note, is easy to navigate and clean looking. After going through the menus I then played a couple of quick challenges which gave me my first glimpse at some of the in-game visuals. You can choose either a female or male character for your in-game character. Sadly, these characters lack in the detail department and you cannot customize your character what so ever. This was a huge let down as I wanted to dress my character in some crazy fishing outfit. This omission gave me the feeling the game may have been rushed.
In any event, I set out on the lake with my character and started reeling in some fish. The water effects and environments really caught my attention. Bottomline, they do look very good and you get a lot of variety as all seven lakes look distinctly different. The surrounding trees and landscape is also quite colorful, bright and lush too. The water looks equally pleasing and very much like what your typical North American lake would look like. When you cast your line the camera takes you underwater and the scenery is quite sharp as the various marine life (e.g. fish) is easily recognizable. Simply put, the developers did a nice job at re-creating the underwater environment in Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009.
The biggest issue I had with the underwater aspects of the game is not so much the visuals themselves but the camera angles. They are incredibly problematic and seem to have a life of their own. You can control the camera angles with the directional buttons however the game itself does a poor job giving you the best angle when attempting the snag some fish. The last thing you want to be doing when reeling in some fish is fight the game’s camera. It’s a re-occurring problem which happened far too often and takes away from the overall enjoyment of the game.
Another final area of concern is the fact the game is only offered in 720p. I also view this as unacceptable as most PS3 games are available in 720p, 1080i and 1080p. The game also suffers from some frame rate and clipping issue but they were not a major concern but more of an annoyance.
As far as the audio is concerned Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand I actually enjoyed the music soundtrack as the opening menu screen has a Dave Matthews rock/folk feel to it. It’s catchy and had me surfing the menus to see if there was a set list somewhere. On the other hand some of the in-game sounds are really only what you would expect and are somewhat forgettable. From the sound of your motor boat, reeling in your fish, birds chirping and water splashing, everything is present and accounted for but doesn’t go over the top as they feel uninspired. Granted the game does pick-up the pace in this area when you catch a fish as the up-tempo arcadish tunes kick-in. It can get intense when you are moving your controller and the unrelenting music just won’t go away. Otherwise, Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 is a little stale in terms of its overall audio package.
Overall, the gameplay in Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 is just not as good as it could be and suffers on a far too many levels. After catching only a few fish the challenge seemed to disappear and I just didn’t get that sense of satisfaction I had back in my Sega Bass Fishing 2 days. The game clearly wants to be a simulation fishing game but it is lacks in so many departments that the hardcore angler will likely be disappointed with this instalment in the franchise.
The first area of concern is the lack of gameplay modes as there are only three: tournament fishing, open fishing and quick challenge. In tournament fishing you participate in three different tournaments (easy, normal and hard). You start on easy and work your way up by winning and unlocking additional achievements. Each tournament involves several challenges where you have to proceed through specific objectives. For instance, you may have to catch three Largemouth Bass in 15 minutes. Open fishing is a 30 minute game where all you do is fish on a lake you have already unlocked. This mode is very basic and relaxing as the 30 minutes offers up more than enough time to putt around the lake and snag some fish. Quick challenge offers up the same objectives as tournament fishing however there are no additional achievements or unlockables. Overall these modes are rather limited. I could not help but think what they could have done with a single player mode that included some sort of career or storyline.
As far as multiplayer component aspect of the game, Rapala Fishing Frenzy 2009 has leaderboards. Yes, ladies and gentlemen that is all you get in this game when it comes to online or multiplayer features. No head-to-head fishing challenges against a buddy online or off, no online tournaments, no leagues, no swapping photos, and no other challenge based modes online. In a game which represents a rather social sport you would think it would have a cool multiplayer component. Again, another glaring omission which once again leads me to believe the game was rushed.
Another concern I had with the game is the lack of a tutorial mode. I would have preferred a comprehensive tutorial to assist in becoming acquainted with the controls and how to play game properly as opposed to reading the manual and on screen instructions. I found the on-screen instructions confusing and I wasted far too much time in the beginning just trying to figure out the controls. Essentially it came down to trail in error before I really got the hang of the game.
The controls are not overly complicated and I do give the developers kudos for using the SIXAXIS controls. The use of the SIXAXIS is directly involved in catching fish and steering your boat. While catching a fish the screen prompts you to either move the SIXAXIS up, down, left or right. I liked this aspect of the controls simulating the pulling of the rod when reeling in a fish. However steering the boat is problematic and I think it was really unnecessary. The game should have just stuck with the analog sticks when it comes to operating the boat. As for the rest of the controls, once again it comes down to trial and error as the manual is misleading and on-screen instructions suffer.
I will admit, I not an expert fisher by any stretch of the imagination. Ask me to name three different types of lures and I have no clue. That being said, the game did seem to be limited in terms of the variety of rods, lures and reels available. I expected to be overwhelmed in this department however this was not the case. The game has a narrow number of lures and you do not have the capability of selecting different reels. There are different rods you unlock during the game, however you cannot do much in the way of customization. I also found it disappointing there are only seven lakes in the game. Again I just expected so much more which seems to be the theme of this review.
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