The Catch: Carp & Coarse

Remember the days when EA released standalone, non-annual, FIFAs based on the World Cup and the UEFA league? They reused the most recent engine while adding new tournaments and modes, altering presentation accordingly. The Catch: Carp & Coarse is the fishing equivalent to a FIFA off-shoot, building on Fishing Sim World’s sturdy foundation to create something fresh yet familiar. 

It knows how to make a decent first impression. The presentation is bold and clean-cut, featuring menu prompts and several optional video tutorials to ease you. Another neat touch here is that the frontend transforms into a tranquil underwater scene if you leave the controller alone.

Fishing Sim World veterans will instantly recognise the list of modes. Fishing Trip is restriction-free – head to a location and fish until your heart is content, earning Tackle Points (TP) and levelling up as you go. TP becomes more crucial over time, used to purchase better equipment and specialised bait.

We’re always impressed with the variety of bait fishing games offer (Ultimate Fishing Simulator had marshmallows, of all things) and The Catch is no different, with everything from plastic frogs to hot chilli coated tuna boilies. We never realised fish had such a broad palate.

Under the Events tab lies five different 30-minute-long contests against (invisible) AI, with winning conditions being a mixture of total weight and length. When the countdown begins and you’re still in second place, landing a supersized fish moments before the timer runs out can be satisfying. Rarely do you have to wait more than 2-3 minutes for a catch, no matter which mode you’re playing.

As for the multiplayer aspect, it’s possible to host your own game – setting a time limit, the number of rounds, etc – and play either with random anglers or friends only. There are monthly leagues too, complete with leaderboards. Although these matches last an hour, you can quit and submit your score at any time.

The main menu also features the character and tackle box customisation options. Especially during events, it’s a good idea to edit tackleboxes in advance to avoid downtime. Before entering a match, the list of species to expect – along with their preferred baits and locations – is shown. Paying attention to this is vital, helping to boost expertise on that map.

While only five locations feature, they are notably different and not all give the chance to hoon around in a boat (which is available from the outset.) Rotterdam city provides a narrow stretch of water, while Scotland’s Loch Mickle and England’s Oxlease Lake are wide and open. Pearl Lake in Malaysia is decorated with rural huts and a waterfall; Spain’s River Ebro is home to the biggest fish The Catch has to offer, including colossal catfish.

Each of these locations has ‘Boss Fish’ to track down, including a gigantic eel known as Wobbles and an ugly ghost carp affectionately known as Gargoyle. Gotta catch ‘em all.

In terms of mechanics, it falls back on the tried and tested formula of casting out and reeling in using the joypad triggers, using a bar to determine casting distance and a gauge for stress on the line. The reel speed can be adjusted, allowing you to slowly wind a line back in while seeing if anything bites. Rods have alarms fitted by default, and thankfully, they aren’t as annoying as before.

The real genius here lies in the fact that three lines can be cast out at once, so you aren’t restricted to using a single type of bait. A second alarm sounding while currently reeling in a fish never fails to induce a mild sensation of panic. We also love the fact that landing larger fish is a genuine struggle, causing the rod to audibly creak under the strain.

Especially in light of the modest £19.99 price tag, The Catch amounts to an enticing package with a decent amount of content. There’s plenty to ‘tackle’ here, certainly. Faults are both relatively few and negligible, being a few visual inconsistencies (the fish themselves are way more detailed than the slightly unnerving human character models) and a camera that shakes when manipulated to certain angles. There’s no underwater camera view either although this appears to be a design choice – fish are instead visible from the water’s surface.

If it successfully hooks you in, you’ll be here for the long haul – the achievements are rather time-consuming, and the amount of ‘boss fish’ sits at over a hundred. Fishing Sim World players may find the action a little overfamiliar, but for newcomers and anybody curious about fishing games in general, this is a recommended port of call.