" I'm not saying run out and buy it, but if you happen to work for a game review magazine and they give it to you 'cause you're the new guy... Wait, that's why I played it...You guys are on your own. "
Title: Action Bass by Take 2 Interactive
Format: Fishing sports title for the Playstation
Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A
The Hype: Part of Take 2 Interactive's new $9.99 line, it promises to deliver "the pulse-pounding, white knuckle action of bass fishing" for dirt cheap. Yeah... you keep telling yourself that.
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: In a game done by halves, at least the graphics manage to be done by three-quarters. The colors and (above water) backgrounds are pretty enough, and the fish don't actually look too bad if you don't look too closely. Unfortunately once you do, they start to break down. Expect many a see through polygonal fish, thanks to some bad clipping problems. Many of the other surfaces suffer the same malady, although the water surface does manage to be nicely reflective. All the bass look the same though, and all of the non-bass fish are two-dimensional. 3 out of 5
Sound: Okay, every action movie throughout history has depended on great sound effects to obtain the aforementioned, and desired "Pulse Pounding" effect. Action Bass tries, but that's about all it does. A few ambient sounds that will neither interest nor distract you are present above water, below water you're often accompanied only by the sound of your lure wending its lonely way along. Once you hook a fish, you are treated to the game's only musical score (not counting the title screen). A bad attempt at rock music to keep you excited, it falls in with the rest of the sounds as neither interesting nor terribly distracting. 3 out of 5
Game Play: You know monkeys, Action Bass is a perfect example of a decent game done half assed. The game has some kind of mindlessly fun quality to it, as you'll find yourself yelling at some bass to "Get in ma bell-eh" (or something like that). The game manages to simulate the act of fishing rather well, if you consider pressing the X button to be similar to hauling in a 16lb bass. Unfortunately you'll constantly be distracted by trying to catch on to exactly how the bloody game works, see below for more ranting on that. Even when you manage to get a rudimentary understanding though, the controls are still ambiguous at best. There are so many things that get left out, things that would have made the game that much more fun. Simple things like a moveable camera, or an adjustable casting point. The ability to discern one bass from another (especially concerning size) would be invaluable. A help file on newly obtainable lures, or the ability to customize your character (you can enter initials, but these never appear anywhere)! Come on people, do you not have play testers? Do you just not listen to them? 2 out of 5
Level and Environment Designs: There are, count them, six places for you to fish in. Two of them have to be unlocked. Some of the area designs are relatively creative, especially the above water view. Below water generally consists of differentiated slopes, and is rather blasť sadly what you see on top does not necessarily reflect what happens to be below water. Most often, above and below have no resemblance what so ever. A tree on top of the water, for example, very seldom actually has a trunk or roots extending below the water. The levels sport no environmental hazards, so there's never consideration for a caught lure. Add to that the fact that every level plays pretty much the same, with only the barest of nods to visibility changes and there's not much point in having multiple areas anyway. 2 out of 5
Multiplayer: Yet another example of a place where this game could have benefited from somebody using their whole ass. This game has no multiplayer. How hard would it be to add in a side-by-side fishing game? I mean, the camera doesn't move underwater anyway, you'd just have two people reeling in fish. The competition would have been great fun (or at least as much fun as can be gotten out of this game). 1 out of 5
Replayability: Seeing as how you can beat the challenge mode in a couple of hours, and the extra mode are nigh insanely difficult, Replayability is slim to nil. Some of you more sadistic monkeys may try to beat all the modes and get all the lures, but it's really not worth it for most of us. The Aquarium mode might have added some incentive, but it only allows you to hold five fish (albeit your five largest), so you can't even have a thriving aquarium. 2 out of 5
Story/Dramatics: Story? You mean they were supposed to put a story in here? Despite the fact that there are other people's initials on the score board (the people you have to beat), these people do not exist! You don't have some archival to out fish or anything. Even reeling in a fish is relatively un-dramatic, basically consisting of great deals of patience. You don't even get to see your character pull the fish out of the water! Most first person shooters have a better story than this. 1 out of 5
Instructions and Learning Curve: You know, this here is probably the worst part. The instructions are pitiful at best. While adding to your basic knowledge of how to play the game, they really do nothing to help you understand the nuances. Learning curve is even worse. It was four hours before I figured out that if I didn't reel as quickly; the lure would drop down and attract more fish! Don't ever expect to figure out exactly how this whole thing works. Just about every system is abstract at best, downright obscure at worst. Trying to figure them out is an arduous task it's just not worthwhile to pursue 2 out of 5
Installation and Real System Requirements: Finally a place where Action Bass can shine. I've already expounded on the graphics, and I've definitely seen better on the psx. The load times are quite fast though, so you'll never have to wait to get into the "action" (must. stop. laughing). 4 out of 5
If only the entire game wasn't done completely half-assed, it might have been fun. Still, for 10 bucks, might find it enjoyable at times. I'm not saying run out and buy it, but if you happen to work for a game review magazine and they give it to you 'cause you're the new guy... Wait, that's why I played it, you guys are on your own. 2 out of 5
The Good: It's a fishing game and it's cheap; find what good you can in that.
The Bad: If it was a cool feature, and could be left out... it was.
The Overall Ugly: The game was just done badly. Avoid it if possible.
What it's Worth: Pick it up for $10 if you're bored. Really bored.