Developer Fun Lab and Publisher Activision recently released the newest version of the Rapala series of fishing games. The biggest difference with Rapala Pro Bass Fishing this time around is control thanks to the wireless rod and reel controller that ships with the game. Let's go fishin'...
Unpacking And Setting Up The Controller
The box contents include the reel, rod, wireless transceiver, fold out manual, retail PS3 game box (with art and manual), wrist strap, two Duracell batteries, and Rapala logo sticker. Assembling and getting the controller to work on the PS3 is a very easy.
First, decide if you want the reel on the left side or the right side of the rod. Then, insert the reel handle through the reel housing and attach the reel cap onto the other side. Then, insert the rod; once it is snapped in place, it cannot be removed. That makes it the controller a little harder to store again because the original box can no longer be used, but the overall controller isn't too large anyway, so that isn't a huge deal.
Next, take the two batteries and slide them into the back of the controller. Then, put the small USB wireless transceiver into the PS3. To get the controller to connect to the PS3, just press the PS3 button. The DualShock's controls are mapped onto this rod and reel controller so you do not need another controller to navigate the XMB or the game menu. Just use the left thumbstick on the rod and reel controller to launch the game and you're underway.
Taking On the Pros
If you didn't know, Rapala (rap-ah-luh) is a pro fishing league. Obviously, this game is licensed to utilize all things Rapala, from logos to actual fisherman. The player won't actually choose between these real fisherman though, instead, you will be competing against them. When you first boot up the game, and after a very quick 450MB install, you get to create your fisherman (or woman). Initially, there are only a couple of hats, shirts, sunglasses, and pants (or shorts), but as you play, you will unlock more. At any later time, you can edit your character's appearance to suit your tastes.
When you're all set, you can choose from several modes of play. The primary mode is Tournament, and the goal is to win the Rapala trophy. To do this, you need to play through the Rookie, Pro, and Legendary seasons. Each of these seasons has four tiers with anywhere from one to three events each. You don't have to compete in every event in a tier to proceed, but you may want to if you're behind in the leaderboard. Each event is timed, with Rookie class events giving you seventeen minutes to net more fish than your competition. Additionally, all events have a secondary objective that you can complete too if you want. The competition is made up of nine other anglers and they get progressively more difficult as you advance through the three seasons. As the competition ramps up, so do your available tools and methods. If you manage to get a big lead, you can head back to the dock to weigh in early, which is nice because at times you will in fact get lucky and jump out a big lead.
Figuring out where to fish isn't hard, and you'll spend the vast majority of your time fishing as opposed to driving your boat around. Your GPS and fish tracker device (accessed by pressing Square) will give you an idea of where to go. Once you have anchored, make sure you're using the right lure (press Select) for the specific fish you're trying to catch. The game includes a rating system for each lure based on the fish you are trying to catch.
To cast, you just have to move a marker on the water with the left stick to where you want your lure to end up. Then, press R1 (which, on the rod and reel controller is where your right index finger will rest) and hold it while you move the controller back and then forward, at which point you want to release R1. If you cast within a meter of your marked spot, you get a bonus that will help attract fish. Once the lure is in the water, the HUD changes to show you the length of the line and the depth of the lure. The lower right corner of the HUD may also show an animation of how to move the controller as you reel your line back in. You can turn this feature on and off at will with L2; I found it useful enough to keep on to help me stay in rhythm with that particular reel-in technique. Players can also switch their lure strategy by pressing Triangle. Doing so will setup a different reel technique, and there are quite a few of these (around fifteen). Not all of these methods are available from the start (you unlock them as you play through the tourney), and some are better suited to catching certain fish than others.
Once a fish bites, your job is to keep them in the center of the screen by moving your rod to the left and right and pulling up and reeling in. The reel motion of the controller feels pretty realistic -- it's fast and smooth, but there is also that sensation of some resistance in the reel as well, which felt legitimate. If the fish breaks away, that's fine -- there's always another one, and you won't suffer any kind of penalty. You can also decide to cut the line (press Circle) at any time if you don't want to spend the time to reel in the fish for whatever reason (if it's the wrong type for the competition for example).
Rapala also supports two player local battles and a Free Fishing mode that gives you the chance to explore any of the seven US freshwater lakes you will find in the Tournament. You can specify the lake, the season, the weather, what fish you want to catch, and so forth. Each lake has about ten optional challenges available too. The game keeps track of all of your stats, so you can see the number of casts, fishing time, total pounds of fish caught, number kept and released, and so forth. An online leaderboard shows you who's caught the most fish, too. Also, players can view the full list of unlockables and the fish-o-pedia in the pause menu. The fish-o-pedia covers a variety of topics about fishing and things you will see in the game like the seven lakes and thirty or so different fish.
All in all, Rapala is a good fishing sim that is made much better with the new controller. Let's get to the summary...