When I was wee lad I’d spend many a weekend lakeside fishing with my dad, brother and at an older age, a couple of mates. It was a time to sit and relax with family and friends and even at a young age I appreciated soaking up the outdoors and having some quiet time. These are the things that appeal to me when it comes to fishing and they’re unfortunately things that don’t translate well to a video game.
Fishing Sim World boasts an impressive selection of upgrades for your loadout
Fishing Sim World isn’t a game that can be faulted on the amount of stuff that it offers. The game focuses around three fishing specialisms. Specimen fishing for Bass, specimen fishing for carp or standard course fishing. These three options each have their own preset loadout, which can be edited from the main menu, allowing you to jump straight in and begin fishing your preferred way. Fishing Sim World also boasts an impressive selection of upgrades for your loadout including new rods, reels, different strength and brand of line, lures and baits. On top of that, you can purchase new clothes and accessories for your in-game avatar alongside new boats and boat liveries which are present in the larger in-game locations. All of these unlocks can be purchased with Tackle Points, an in-game currency gained for catching fish and completing tournaments.
Once you’ve got your character and loadout ready you need to choose how you want to play. You can opt for Freedom Fishing, an open game mode with no time limits. Here you can test out your new equipment or simply fish to your heart’s content in any of the 7 locations in the game. If you prefer to be rewarded for your fishing you can jump into one of the four tournaments available. Each tournament has four rounds, each lasting 20 minutes, starting with a qualifier and leading through to the grand finale. There are also four tournament types in the game, each with their own unique way to win:
- The Big Bass Tour – Total weight of your 5 biggest fish
- Predator Challenge – Total length of all predatory fish caught
- Carp Championship – Total weight of all carp caught
- Match Series – Total number of all fish caught
Tournaments can be played both online and offline and the game also offers weekly online challenges based on the above types. The weekly tournaments last 60 minutes as opposed to the single player’s 20 and each requires paid entry using your tackle points, although it is a very small sum. You can also leave a tournament early should you not want to stick around for the full hour. Your score will be logged, however, your chance of winning will obviously be stunted.
If you’re finding yourself struggling to get to grips with the game then fret not as there is a handy tutorial section. The tutorial section will teach you the basics of fishing with the later, more advanced, tutorials focussing on how to catch carp or how to correctly use spinning lures. The downside here is that each tutorial is a gameplay video rather than an interactive one and it can get a little overwhelming trying to remember what has been shown to you.
The gameplay in Fishing Sim World is simply dull
Once you’ve mastered your angling technique, selected an event and equipped your tackle, you can jump into actually fishing and it’s here where the game takes an unfortunate nosedive. The gameplay in Fishing Sim World is simply dull. The often quiet moments of fishing in real life are filled with conversation or deep thought but, as I said in the opener, this doesn’t translate well into the game.
Fishing Sim does try its best to plug these quiet moments by allowing you to set up three rods at once. Once you cast a rod out you can place it on your rod rest, equipped with bite alarms, as long as you’re nearby. After you’ve cast out your third and final rod you can wait for the bite alarm to trigger and access it via the rod selection menu. The issue here, however, is that more often than not you’ll be mid-cast when another one of your rods gets a bite, leaving you juggling two rods and ultimately missing your catch. This could, of course, happen in real-life but the frequency of which you catch fish means you’re almost better off leaving the third rod entirely, in favour of sticking to just the two.
Once you’ve successfully hooked a fish it’s time to start playing it to tire it out. This is done by using the right control stick to pull the rod in the opposite direction of the fish. It’s here where you need to keep adjusting the line tension whilst reeling in at a pace that doesn’t cause the line to snap. You’ll also need to let the line go to ensure that doesn’t happen. This is true of fishing in real life but the feedback from the fish feels completely absent. Smaller fish can be pulled to your peg with ease whereas the bigger ones take more tiring out but still feel completely weightless. You never truly feel the power of a 20lb+ fish on the end of your line. The fish’s movements are also incredibly erratic and you’ll often find yourself waggling the rod in all directions, looking like a complete lunatic on the bank of a lake.
After a successful land, you’ll be shown your catch alongside a few stats. Credit where credit is due, the fish look great in this game and even with my fading knowledge I was able to identify them without seeing their names. The attention to detail is great and you’ll even notice that the patterns on the fish also change so you won’t necessarily catch the same looking mirror carp twice. It’s unfortunate, then, that during a tournament you’re never presented with this screen. Instead, you’re shown your overall catch number, weight or length at the end, followed by a victory pose if you’re lucky enough to get a trophy.
Controlling your character can sometimes be fiddly
The negatives don’t only apply to the gameplay. Controlling your character can sometimes be fiddly, especially when trying to find the right spot to cast out from your peg. Trying to find the sweet spot of being close enough to your peg but not too close to the river soaks up valuable minutes at the start of a tournament. Camera issues are also present, especially in the first-person mode, whilst holding a rod. The camera focuses on your bait and if you cast quite close to your character you’ll often be staring at the ground for the majority of the game. This can’t be adjusted as the right control stick controls your rod so the only way to get a better view is by shifting back to the third perspective.
It’s a shame that the core of Fishing Sim World is so lacklustre. Even a tournament win feels empty. The game’s locations are varied but often bereft of any character and whilst the level of detail on the rod parts, lures and bait, matches the quality of this fish, overall it’s a pretty standard looking game. Fishing Sim World is a well-presented, content-rich, game but it’s, unfortunately, let down by severely underwhelming gameplay. Avid anglers may well enjoy their time with Fishing Sim World and at a retail price of £30 (can be found cheaper) it’s not going to cost the earth but the average gamer will struggle to find any enjoyment here.