The Fisherman: Fishing Planet – Xbox One Review
The Fisherman: Fishing Planet is not technically a new game as its been around in a different form for a while. Fishing Planet was a free to play title with paid for DLC. Bigben Interactive has now brought the whole thing together, base game and all the DLC, into one package for consoles and PC. They’ve even thrown in some new content in the form of a new location, some new fish and a couple of motorboats. That might not be enough new features if you’ve invested time into the free to play version and money into additional content, but for newcomers theres plenty on offer. With over 140 types of fish to catch, the game boasts a lot of depth, as each has its own particular traits, from what type of water they like to inhabit, which lure is best to catch them with and what type of bait they go for. The type of day will have an effect on when each fish is likely to bite, and some of the rarer species will require you to use some specialist equipment if you want to catch them, the simple rod and line just won’t cut it.
When you start the game you’re asked to create a character, all with very limited options, but then as you’re playing the game from a first-person perspective, it’s hardly worth bothering with anyway. The tutorial mode you’re forced to go through is very good for the newbie, especially one with very limited knowledge of fishing like myself. A massive part of the game is inventory management so being taken through things step by step is important to understand all the various pieces of equipment you’ll need. This depth and attention to detail must be great for those that know their way around a tackle box as it gives a higher level of accurate simulation to the game, but to an uneducated heathen like me it seemed like an unnecessary load of waffle that got in the way of going out and catching some fish. The control system with all the menus at first seems too convoluted but as you get into the game the logic of it dawns on you and it becomes apparent that’s its actually quite intuitive. This step by step in the tutorial and the ways it slowly adds new elements made me feel I was really learning something and gave the sense of improving my skills, even if at the end of the day I was just casting and reeling in when I’d got a bite.
Once you are let loose of the tutorial’s apron strings and can pick your own fishing trips, there is still help available to guide you in the right direction. As you level up, more locations (and equipment) becomes available, and theres an impressive choice of lakes and rivers from around the world, giving a nice diversity of environments. Keeping an eye on your finances is important, as to fish a location you will need to buy a licence for that area or country, as well as buying the right kit and bait. A tip I learned early on is that its best to just plan a day trip to the location, as if you’re reeling in a good haul you can extend it, rather than paying for a longer trip and be stuck there without a decent catch. Your keep-net can only hold a finite amount of fish, so you need to go for the ones that will yield the most profit if you want to build up the bank balance for the new rod you want.
Once you get to the actual fishing, find your spot and settle down, you’ll be impressed with the visuals. Admittedly there isn’t much going on in terms of action, but the landscapes are beautifully drawn with plenty of details, and the water effects, although not cutting edge, are impressive all the same. The graphics are less impressive when you move around though, the detail can be very slow to pop into focus as you move around and the light and shade certainly could be better. The mechanics of the fishing technique are simple and work well with the controller, although the distance you cast takes a bit of practice to judge. It does work smoothly in the main, certainly much smoother than navigating the complex menu system. It can be quite relaxing, sitting on the bank waiting for a bite and enjoying the view, much like in real life, so I wouldn’t advise playing this game when you’re tired, as you can get a little too relaxed and nod off.
You’re given specific missions at regular intervals to hit targets at set locations, but its not compulsory you take these, instead you can roam the globe and fish in your favourite locations whenever the fancy takes you. If you do take on the missions, you just turn up at the location at the right time and take part. You can even fish alongside others in public or private rooms, adding a competitive edge to the proceedings.
The Fisherman – Fishing Planet is without doubt a game for the angling enthusiast but takes a decent stab at trying to lure a few more fans over to the pastime. To appreciate the depth of the management sim you really need to have an existing knowledge of all the kit involved as to the layman it all seems far too complicated. A good attempt is made on the mechanics and the look of the game but the cracks are apparent once you’ve played for a few hours, and the complex menu system, although making some sense, can become tiresome to those less enthusiastic about the intricacies of fishing. On the plus side theres no doubt this is the best fishing sim available on Xbox, so credit where its due even if there is very little in the way of competition.
Developer: Fishing Planet LLC
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Many Thanks to Dead Good Media for the review copy.