- Publisher: Psyclone
- Developer: Piranha Games
- ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
- Genre: Fishing
- Pros: Awesome motion controller; fun gameplay; realism
- Cons: Poor graphics & sound; only average without special controller
The Strike comes in two retail flavors – one without the special controller for $40 and one with the fishing rod controller for $80. While it is nice to have a choice if you’re just looking to pick up a new fishing game, the controller makes all the difference here and that is the version you should buy. It costs a lot, but once you get your hands on it and start playing you’ll wonder how you ever played fishing games with anything else.
The controller itself is impressive. It looks like a real fishing rod and reel set. It is wired, unfortunately, but wireless would have jacked up the price. The controller is about 2 feet long with the last foot or so padded so you won’t hurt anyone when you swing it around. The reel is like a real enclosed spinning reel and you can even unscrew the handle and put it on the other side if you are left handed. The A,B,X,Y buttons and an analog stick are right where your hand normally falls when you hold a fishing rod, so they are in easy reach. Other buttons (Back, Start, Guide, etc.) aren’t quite in as optimal positions, but you get used to them. There is a d-pad, which you use for menu navigation, that is in an awkward position on the back of the reel but, again, you get used to it. For a fishing rod built around the limitations of also being a game controller, it works pretty darn well considering.
When you get your line in the water, however, everything works entirely realistically. You reel in just like you would in real life, and the speed is accurately reflected in game. You can flick the rod up and down or side to side and your movements are reflected in game.
The real thrill comes when a fish actually bites. You have to jerk the rod up to set the hook, and from there on it is a real fight. The controller rumbles and vibrates and force feedback motors in the reel actually push back against you as you’re reeling so it feels like you are really fighting a fish. It is seriously one of the most amazing feelings I have ever felt in a videogame. Bigger fish pull harder and you can really feel the difference. You have to be wary of your line tension, of course, or the line will break, and this is represented both on the rod itself with a row of lights as well as onscreen during the game. It took me about 10 fish before I figured out how to not break the line, but it was definitely a fun learning process.
There aren’t a ton of modes, but it is a fishing game after all so you can’t really complain that all there is to do is go fishing. Or maybe you can, but that would be pretty stupid “cough”IGN”cough”. You have to unlock each lake, and you do that by first earning reputation points in a free fishing mode and then competing in a tournament. The free fishing is useful because it gives you a chance to learn the layout of the lake and figure out where the fish are before you have the species and time limitations of the tournament weighing you down. You win money and boats during tournaments, so there is decent motivation moving forward. There are also special fish in each lake that earn you new lures as rewards for catching them, which is also nice motivation.
The other modes are simple casting and boat racing minigames. Both are pretty boring.
One area where The Strike definitely disappoints is the presentation. It just is not a pretty looking or sounding game. The graphics are blocky and ugly on top of the water, but decent enough that you can tell fish species apart underwater. Of course, what outdoorsy game has actually had nice graphics in the last 10 years or so? None that I can think of. The sound is similarly bland. Just repetitive music and the whining of the reel as you’re playing.
In the end, Bass Pro Shops: The Strike is a game I highly recommend to fishing game fans. Specifically, I recommend the $80 version that comes with the fishing rod controller. Without the controller, it is a fun but average fishing game. With the controller, it is the most realistic, most fun, and all around best fishing game I have ever played. The ultimate compliment I can give the game is that I would buy it without hesitation for my own Dad. He’s not much of a gamer, but is a great fisherman that taught me everything I know (we live in Idaho, after all, what else was I supposed to do as a kid?) and I know that he would absolutely love this game. You won’t find a higher recommendation of a fishing game than that. Bass Pro Shops: The Strike (with controller) is an excellent fishing game that is worth a purchase.