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Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Konami
Publisher:  Konami
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Fishing
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  12-12-01

When you think about it, fishing is really the perfect example of the Man vs. Nature struggle. Combine this with its simplicity, and you’d think it’d make for the perfect video game. After all, video games are generally about simple struggles between two forces. Despite that, for some reason fishing games have a long and storied history of sucking. There are a few exceptions, but this isn’t one of them.

It’s not that Konami didn’t try, because you can tell there was a lot of effort put into this game. There are three basic modes to choose from, including Tournament, Free Fishing, and Cable Versus. The Tournament mode pits you against other anglers in the Great Outdoor Games, Free Fishing allows you to choose from a number of locations in three different lakes to fish in, and Cable Versus allows you to enter a tournament against a friend. The Tournament structure is simple: catch the five biggest fish you can in a two-day span. If you have the highest total weight (and the target kinds of fish), you win.

Where this game fails primarily is that it doesn’t really capture the epic struggle between angler and fish. Although the game gives you a variety of different lures to choose from, everything is pretty much handled via the "A" button. So in order to get your lure to behave properly to attract the fish, all you have to do is discover the proper rhythm for hitting the "A" button with that lure. Given the fact that you have a meter (the APL meter) on the right-hand side of the screen that shows you exactly how effective your button mashing is, with a little patience you’ll master every lure. And once you master a lure, catching fish with it is too easy and boring.

The actual act of pulling in a hooked fish is too easy. All you do is use the "A" button to reel in the fish, and make sure that the tension meter (which replaces the APL meter once you hook a fish) doesn’t fill up and break your line. You can also use the "B" button to give your line a bit more slack (thus reducing tension), although it’s really not necessary. Just watch your tension meter and "A" is all you’ll ever need to use. It would’ve helped greatly if the game used the d-pad in some fashion, such as setting the hook or fighting the fish. Only needing the "A" button just makes it too easy and repetitive. Naturally, this also results in the tournament mode being too easy.

The graphics and sound are both good and bad. Above the water, every area looks nice and distinct with vibrant high-resolution backgrounds. Below the water everything looks bland and repetitive, and almost identical regardless of where you’re fishing. Since you spend most of your time looking underwater, that counts for more. The only thing that looks good below the water is the fish themselves, which look surprisingly realistic. Each different type of fish is readily identifiable by looks alone, and each matches up very well with its real-life counterpart. The music is generic rock crap similar to what you hear in most other fishing games, and is grating after a few listens. The sound effects, on the other hand, are merely average.

Highs:

  • The fish look realistic.
  • Tracks the biggest of each type of fish you’ve caught.
  • Link play adds some replay value.

Lows:

  • The underwater graphics look like guppy crap.
  • Music is grating and annoying.
  • Once you master the lures (which won’t take long), you’ll have no problem mastering the game.

Final Verdict:

ESPN Great Outdoor Games – Bass 2002 has a lot of things going right for it, but it fails to properly recreate the epic struggle between man and fish that makes for a great fishing game. Wait until next year’s version, or check out American Bass Challenge instead.

Overall Score: 5.8

Additional Images:

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