There’s no shortage of hyper realistic fishing simulator titles on the Xbox One, so it can be difficult for one to break out of the mold and do something new for the genre. Despite splashing onto the scene with nine different fishing locations spanning across the globe, six different fishing techniques, and hundreds different tackle options from well known brands Pro Fishing Simulator doesn’t really rock the boat as far as fishing simulator’s go. In fact, the game somehow capsizes when it comes to the most important aspects.
Pro Fishing Simulator starts off by allowing players to create their character. Customization is always welcome in these games, but Pro Fishing Simulator falls into the same trap that others in the genre do by largely limiting what your character can look like. For males there are four options available of varying skin tones, but female character models are limited to just two options. If you’re a dark skinned woman of color and looking to create a character that looks like you, or if you’re a light skinned woman with a hair color other than auburn, you’re out of luck with this simulator’s character creation tool.
While Pro Fishing Simulator does have nine fishing locations, only one is available from the beginning and that is German’s hauntingly beautiful Black Forest Lake. Filled with a variety of fish ranging from bream to pike, including the elusive Alex the Zander trophy, Black Forest Lake is a suitable entry point to Pro Fishing Simulator’s quirky ways. The lake is nothing short of impressive in size, and even though it serves primarily as a tutorial area there is plenty of reason to come back and explore the giant lake more.
You’ll want to be careful traipsing around the water’s perimeter, however, as making an excess of noise will actually scare the fish away. It doesn’t take much to understand why the fish are scared by the noise, as most of the movement sound in Pro Fishing Simulator is unnatural and clunky. Even the softest footsteps sound as if the player is a herd of elephants trampling over a mound of gravel. You may think you can just fast travel to ideal fishing spots around the lake in order to minimize the amount of awful noise you’ll have to listen to, but there’s a hitch to that plan. Each fishing location has a series of challenges that earn the player star rewards. If you want to unlock all of those stars you’re going to be forced to go hiking through the various locations in order to discover miscellaneous landmarks such as submerged dead trees and hidden hunting cabins.
The upside to completing those challenges and collecting the stars is that they allow you to unlock additional locations and equipment to expand your angling possibilities. From the lush forest of Germany to the Florida everglades and all the way back to the carp filled ponds of Japan, there’s no shortage of fishing destinations. However, Pro Fishing Simulator does not allow players to control the time or weather of any of these locations. This would be forgivable if all of the fish could be caught regardless of these circumstances, but each area has special trophy fish that must be caught under specific circumstances.
Germany’s Alex the Zander, for example, must be caught between the hours of 5:30pm and 7:30pm and only when it is overcast. There’s no way to speed up time, and German’s Black Forest Lake always starts players out at 9:00am. It’s perfectly possible to spend an obscene amount of time wandering around the lake’s perimeter, catching as much fish as possible so you don’t faint from boredom while trying to wait for the appropriate hour during which you can catch a special fish only for the weather to turn rainy or you need to back out and visit the shop for more bait. Both circumstances would mean having to restart the wait all over again.
Quality of life complaints and unsettling audio are not the only ailments that plague Pro Fishing Simulator, unfortunately. The game is rife with technical glitches, ranging from mundane texture pop ins and rogue clipping to the more daunting character freezes. In more than one instance the character would become stuck, even if they were in an open area, with the only remedy being to forcibly crash the game from the dashboard. This makes instances where you’re trying to catch fish under specific circumstances all the more frustrating.
Pro Fishing Simulator is a game that, at first glance, appears like it’s on equal footing with its cohorts in the fishing simulator genre. In all honesty, the game could go toe to toe if we looked at content alone. The variety of fishing locations and fish species along with the inclusion of more niche fishing tactics like fly and lure fishing is nothing short of impressive. To go to so into detail as to include bullfrogs, ducks, and alligators in their respective waterways is another admirable addition, but ambiance and fly fishing are really not enough to make up for all of the rough edges left behind by poor quality of life options, the absence of any type of multiplayer component, and game breaking technical glitches.