Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Bass Pro Shops: The Strike
Fishing, like hunting, is one of those subgenres of sports games that really hasn't established itself as something populated with games that match the level of quality and polish of the Maddens of gaming
- Realistic graphics, fishing rod peripheral feels good in your hands, plenty of unlockables
- Limited variety in fish species, no multiplayer
It may seem expensive, but for the amount of money you can save on daily permits, nightcrawlers, and other miscellaneous supplies, fishing from the comfort of your couch with The Strike is not a bad way to go.
Resident angler Patrick Shaw loves the sport of fishing and he may have just found a virtual simulation that's good enough to keep him off the lakes for good. Backed by the Bass Pro Shops name, The Strike is a well executed fishing title that should please amateur anglers and professional fisherman alike.
I don't claim to be some sort of world class fisherman -- in fact, the group of amateur angler friends I fish with constantly remind me that "I suck." But when I get home from GamePro and hang up my fedora with the press card sticking out of it, a good chunk of my free time is spent fishing for trout, bass, bluegill, and whatever the hell else I'm lucky enough to coerce into swallowing my hook.
Fishing, like hunting, is one of those subgenres of sports games that really hasn't established itself as something populated with games that match the level of quality and polish of the Maddens of gaming. But, going back to a point I made on the most recent GamePro podcast Thirsty Thursdays, it looks as though fishing games are finally getting the attention they deserve with the release of Bass Pro Shops: The Strike for Xbox 360, a game that I've been looking forward to for months after I got my first delicious hands-on taste with the game last Spring (you can read my initial early impressions on the game here).
I approached my time with the full version of The Strike with some worries. Will the final product be as satisfying as the two hours I played it so many months ago? Will the new tournaments and boatload of unlockables I had yet to dip my toes in meet my expectations? After a weekend of binging on the 360 version of BassPro: The Strike and Bud Light Lime (don't judge me, it's refreshing), I can say with all honesty as a true fan of the sport of fishing that my initial excitement for the game became renewed. The game isn't quite perfect, but it's still the best fishing game out there.
So enough with my longwinded set up for this review and let me talk about the strongest aspects of the game. First off, the controller that comes with the Xbox 360 version of the game feels unbelievably good in your hands. I can't imagine playing the game without it, which is an option if you don't want get the more expensive version that comes bundled with the rod controller.
It's sturdy, doesn't have that flimsy cheap feel that so many racing and fishing peripherals have, and actually reacts realistically to your movements as you cast out into lakes and real in your catches. The coolest thing about the rod controller is the rotors inside it which shake and provide tension as you get fish to bite onto your line. The reel's handle will even move by itself as fish on your line pull away from you and your boat. Another feature that you can use once you've gotten accustomed to playing the game have to do with the lights located on the back of the controller rod that tell you how much tension is being applied to your line. In other words, if you really want to put your angling skills to the test you can scrap in the HUD display and rely solely on the vibrations from the rod and its lights to catch fish in the game.
I also invited two of my fisherman friends, Buddy and Luis, to come over and play and hear their opinions of the game. Buddy commented that he appreciated the fact that the developers approached fishing in a way that makes it clear that The Strike's team are obviously fans of the real sport. No tacky, dance club music. No annoying announcer yelling at you when you're trying to concentrate. It's also not ridiculously easy to catch fish, something that has plagued a lot of fishing games in the past making them more like carnival games than a true representation of the sport. You're going to need some patience to dominate these lakes.
A True Next-Gen Fishing Experience
Something else that sets The Strike apart from other fishing video games is its graphics. Despite the fact that the game doesn't have some giant publisher behind it like EA or Sony, it doesn't have last generation's graphics. The 360 version truly looks like an Xbox 360 game, with realistic water effects as well as general natural scenery both around the game's ten lakes and at the bottom of them. I didn't like the fact that the game is limited to only eleven species of fish, which is a little on the light side. It feels especially lacking in variety considering that the game has a ton of everything else you could possibly want, including over a hundred different lures you can unlock at the virtual Bass Pro Shop (which is a real store that's the Costco of fishing). You can even take the money you earn from winning tournaments to purchase nine different boats.
Without question, BassPro: The Strike is a must buy for hardcore fishing enthusiasts. It may seem expensive, but for the amount of money you can save on daily permits, nightcrawlers, and other miscellaneous supplies, fishing from the comfort of your couch with The Strike is not a bad way to go.
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