PS3 Review – Rapala Pro Bass Fishing

October 13, 2010Written by Anthony Severino

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give a man Rapala Pro Bass Fishing and you give him fun for a lifetime.

Fishing, it’s one of man’s oldest commercial industries and one of America’s favorite most relaxing pass times. Over the years, what started off as a way to feed a man’s family has turned into a relaxing hobby, or a tough-as-nails sport. Rapala Pro Bass Fishing is the sport at its finest.

Rapala is the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing lures and products. So it’s only fitting that the best in Fishing games bears the name of the most-respected fishing brand in the world. As Rapala is known for their fishing products, Activision is trying their best with Rapala Pro Bass Fishing to make you really feel like you’re a top angler. Not only does the game feel immersive and realistic, but to take it one step further, Rapala Pro Bass Fishing is packed with a Rapala Fishing Rod peripheral.

The Rapala Fishing Rod itself feels like the real deal (or reel deal for the added pun): it’s weighty, comes with a reversible smooth spinning reel (to accommodate lefties and righties), and can sense the way you’re tilting the rod thanks to build in motion sensors. The point is to provide a more immersive experience, by making the user really feel like their casting out their lure, and reeling in their catch. On screen prompts will tell you how to move and position your Rapala Fishing Rod so you can reel in the big one. Great concept, but sadly, a poor execution. Because the rod has to offer some functionality of a standard controller, it makes for very awkward button placement. The analog stick along with the L2 and R2 buttons are on the handle of the rod, and the controller face buttons (square, triangle, cross, circle) and a D-pad are on the reel itself. Many times the game calls for you to press the square button (to change the lure’s movement for example), which requires you to stop reeling the fish in, take your hand off the reel and press the square button, completely destroying the element of immersion. This would be a real lose if the rod itself worked the way it should. In our time using it, we felt that the rod was unresponsive at times to the point where even simple casting could be frustrating.

Despite the issues with the rod, there is however a savior: The PlayStation Move. Right on the Rapala Pro Bass Fishing box it claims to be PlayStation Move compatible. We were planning on testing out the compatibility for the sake of this review anyway, but the PlayStation Move support ended up giving this game the fighting change it so deserved. Had it not been for the perfect accuracy and ease of the PlayStation Move controller, we might not have been able to enjoy for what it was: an excellent fishing game. The motion sensors in the PlayStation Move actually worked with the game properly, allowing for perfect casts, spot-on reenactments of the on-screen prompts, and it made reeling in your catch much less tedious (though truthfully, less immersive).

Now that the controls are out-of-the-way, let’s get to fishing. The game features a Tournament Mode and Free Play. The real challenges are in the Tournament Mode, here you’ll go up against the world’s best anglers in timed “matches” where you’ll try to capture the most weight of fish. Though there is some variety to the challenges, that’s the gist of it. Catch fish, bring them in, calculate the weight, length, etc. The difficulty really cranks up as you move through the higher tiers of competition. Each of the game’s seven beautifully recreated,  real-life freshwater lakes plays host to these events and feature unique fish and challenges throughout the entire lake. Using your boats built-in GPS, you can tell where the “hot-spots” are that are filled with fish. Though, the best spots are found without modern-day tools, using your eyes. Look for things like water balloons, swarms of birds, or fish jumping out of the water. Spot one of those and you’ve found yourself a spot worth dropping your anchor for.

The game couldn’t use the Rapala name and not feature an abundance of fishing lures. In your tackle box you’ll find all kinds of lures, some work better than others for attracting certain types of fish, some colors of lures even work better depending on the time of the day. It’s up to you to figure out what works best. Once you’ve got a bite, you’ll have to quickly snap back to hook our fish. From there on out it’s a battle to get your fish into your boat. The goal is to keep the fish in the middle of the screen while you reel it in. The fish of course, isn’t going to go down without a fight. If you reel while the fish is too far out of view, the fish could get away. Some of the larger fish put up one hell of a the fight, and you can’t actually make any real progress with reeling them in until the fish is entirely exhausted. Though, you might be exhausted too at this point.

Graphically, don’t expect to have your mind blown. When first booting up the game, the opening video is all pixellated and distorted. Thankfully that’s not how the game itself looks, but it certainly makes one wonder why the developer would put such a terrible video up to introduce the game. The visuals aren’t poor, but they certainly aren’t flashy. Everything except the lake environments just look blah. The lake themselves are beautiful and serene, though lacking much detail.

Where the game really shines in this writer’s humble opinion, is in the game’s Free Play mode. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy a day on the lake catching some fish as you suck down beer after beer. There’s no mandatory challenges, no competition, just you and nature. This is a great break in between the chaotic shooters that dominate the market. However, if you don’t enjoy fishing at all, this game will feel like a chore to you.

Rapala Pro Bass Fishing is quite the catch. It’s everything you want in a fishing game, with a realistic control scheme to boot.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Realistic fishing experience

+ Best fishing game on the market

– Bundled fishing rod didn’t work well

7 out of 10