When The Fisherman - Fishing Planet's complete edition dropped on our desk, we readied our rods, spun our spinners and headed off to catch some fish on the PS4. Well, actually we picked up our controllers, but you get the idea.
Before we start, we need to say that this is definitely a fishing game for those who love fishing... of course. The level of detail and options are impressive to say the least, and if you are a keen angler then this might be the game for you when the weather gets bad. That said, there is something here for the curious gamer who feels their collection would be boosted by a fishing experience.
First off, you head out on the tutorial missions which show you the ropes. You're encouraged to change bait, catch fish, and shorten the lines, all while heading around a lake looking for the best spot. The Fisherman does guide you into the experience, and before long you're reeling in fish like the best of them.
There are lots of different types of fish to catch, and the AI has been developed to mirror the real-life behaviour of each fish. We're certainly not experts, but you could definitely see differences in behaviour, tastes, and locations of each catch. For example, some fish stick closer to lillypads or in shallow water, and you'll need to adapt to that.
There are quite a few maps to get to grips with and a lot of tournaments to take part in, so if you're hooked from the start, you'll definitely find there are lots of hours to be had here. You're able to test your skills and knowledge of fishing against other players from around the world, so make sure you get some practice in here before heading to those competitions.
There's also an interesting time dynamic to consider, as some fish prefer coming out at certain times, and are more likely to be active. Therefore you need look at certain charts and then jump to the right time with the time skip function. On top of that, you have to think about your equipment and bait that you're going to use for your next catch, which all adds to the experience. The level of planning really gave us a feeling of satisfaction when we landed that fish.
On the graphical front the game looks great. The water effects were a particular highlight, as the ripples and way in which the light bounced off it made the experience a whole lot more real. That said, the trees could have used a bit more attention to detail, as when you look past the areas of focus, some of the backgrounds were not to the same standard as the water and the immediate viewpoint.
Apart from that, the rest of the in-game action looks solid, with the fish also looking great, and the animation on the float looked genuine. The atmospheric sounds were also calming and really worked to help build the experience, which we'd say is important for the hobby.
The one area of graphics we weren't sure about was the shop. It just seemed that there was a little too much going on. Also, the interface felt a little on the clunky side and we often found ourselves pressing the wrong button and opening up the wrong section. This did detract if were honest, and it seems like this part might be better with a mouse and a pointer.
Another thing we didn't like was the fact it always has to be connected to the internet. In this day and age it shouldn't cause too many issues with better broadbands, but it left us questioning why this feature had been included.
The plethora of things to buy in the shops was both breathtaking and a little overwhelming for the inexperienced fisher. There are two types of currency to spend - normal money and bait coins. There is a currency exchange where you can convert dollars into bait coins, opening up the better rods, tackle, and equipment.
To round up, The Fisherman is a good-looking, solid fishing affair that gives you a huge range of equipment and some good spots to go fishing. The AI of the fish was great, and the level of detail that went into making the player think about location, time, and bait amongst other things was impressive.
If you're a keen angler and it looks cold outside, making you feel a day fishing from the sofa would be a better idea, this is the experience for you. It may not win over huge amounts of new gamers to become anglers, but the curious amongst you should also give it a thought, especially since it ushers newbies into the experience with care.