The Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos delivers what may be the most boring take on its subject imaginable. Casting you as a captain of a crab ship on Alaska's Bering Sea, the game drops anchor on absurdly simplified versions of mundane harvesting duties without a scrap of the excitement and drama found in the award winning Discovery Channel series on which it is based. Worse yet, the visuals feel more than a decade old, the motion controls for the Wii and PlayStation 3 fall well short of their potential, and the endless repetition of four minigames quickly sinks any chance of excitement.
6285158NoneMotion controls both enhance and detract from the experience, depending on which minigame you're playing.
It's hardly the fault of the source material. Now nearing its seventh season, The Deadliest Catch is an intensely human reality show chronicling the hazardous lives of crabbers stationed on Alaska's remote Aleutian Islands. Viewers tune in by the millions to see fortunes and friendships made and lost, and they see the treacherous Bering Sea erupt into life-threatening chaos. This game, however, gives you none of that chaos. Instead, it abandons the salty flavor of the series in favor of a dull and persistent narrator. That decision alone sucks the soul out of the game, and it's regrettable that one of the crusty captains from the TV series wasn't hired for the job.
The graphics are dreadfully outdated and, if anything, a step backward from those in the previous Deadliest Catch game. The only time you ever see your crew members face-to-face is when you're hiring them or checking their fatigue in Cabin mode, and even then, they're just publicity stills with stat sheets. Only while casting or retrieving your pots do you see a crew member on the ship at all, and then it's only the back of the same slicker-sporting nobody who looks out at the ocean with all the vigor of a barnacle. Crew members thus resemble mere statistics with familiar names from the series slapped on them for good measure. As captain, you can hire up to five of them based on their varying skills at setting or retrieving pots or sorting, patching, and offloading, but every task is simple enough that their strengths and weaknesses never really become an issue. If you allow them a bit of rest after a series of jobs, your boat will usually perform at top capacity. More experienced crew members demand a greater share of the season's profits and are generally worth their cost in stamina alone, but you can also improve your weaker crew members by using them to perform tasks in their weak areas. It's a good system in theory, but the game never becomes difficult enough to definitively demand one crew member over another.
The eight campaigns in Sea of Chaos rely on mind-numbing repetition with only occasional stabs at variety. In one of the more exciting endeavors, you face off against the famed Captain Sig Hansen in a race to see who can bring in the biggest haul. Another campaign weakly follows the events of the show's fourth season by comparing your hauls to the real numbers achieved by the boats in the series. The longest mission spans an entire career across six seasons, during which you rise from obscurity and earn your fortune. These campaigns all start with selecting a crew and a customizable boat based on those found on the show. You then use the map to sail to one of several untapped fishing locations, although you usually won't know how many crabs are available without fishing there yourself. Some strategy thus springs from casting only a few pots at first to test the waters and avoiding spots on the maps where competitors are congregating. Also, in one of the few nods to the drama of the series, you can radio familiar captains from the show to ask about successful hauls at other locations and report your own findings for better results and allegiances.
6285159NoneTo say that rescues lack the drama of those on the show would be a massive understatement.