Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch has been a massive television success, spanning six seasons and still going strong. Fishermen risk life and limb to catch King and Ophelia crab off the coast of Alaska in the brutal Bering Sea, and the risk is worth it in massive pay-outs that can stretch to over $1,000 an hour. Fighting near unbearable Arctic temperatures, freezing waters and storms that can produce waves high enough to easily capsize ships, all for the sake of cold hard cash: the perfect video game, surely. Crave Games has taken the reins to bring all this excitement to gamers, it’s just that somewhere in the development cycle it forgot to add in the excitement.
Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos's Campaign mode is the heart of the game, where aspiring boat captains can purchase their first sea vessel and head out to start catching crab against other ships from the television series. The first campaign mission awards a large sum of money to purchase one of three vessels that vary in size and crab-carrying capacity. A crew is needed to fish, and hiring crew members from noticeable faces from the show is a nice addition; the better the crew member's statistics, the higher the share of the payout they will take at the end of the season, so hiring rookie members (Greenhorns) along with experienced crew members is a smart move, as continued use with them will slowly strengthen their stats throughout the campaign. Once the vessel has been purchased and the crews hired it’s time to head out and start catching crab, which consists of nothing more than selecting the desired spot to fish on the map.
Upon arrival it’s time to set the crab pots to start catching crab. The number of pots desired to drop is selected and getting to take control of the boat will give a taste of what is to come in Sea of Chaos. Controlling the boat via the Move controller is like trying to drive a tank on ice: it’s near impossible to hold the ship straight as even small movements with the controller result in full turns, making navigation a non-stop control fight to go straight. Even pressing Circle to centre the ship's rudder barely works as the vessel starts turning as soon as the button is pressed. The object is to drop pots inside numbered floating circles that randomly appear on the water until the amount of pots desired to drop is accumulated. Ships speed can be adjusted via Square and Triangle, with the X button used to drop pots, but trying to control the speed and drop pots as well as the constant fight with steering the ship is frustrating to say the least. Trying to combo by quickly dropping pots in rapid succession just adds to the frustration as the controls constantly create problems. Using the DualShock is the best option as the ship can successfully be driven in a straight line and combos can be easily achieved to gain cash and time bonuses.
Crab pots need to soak for up to 48 hours for the best chance of pulling up full pot, and dropping pots in multiple locations to scout out locations is vital to earning the most money by season's end. Once the pots have been soaked it’s time to pull them to the surface and into the boat for sorting out which brings the next two mini-games into play. Retrieving the pots is little more than making a throwing motion to try to hook numbered buoys as they pass the ship starboard side. Once the Move controller is pulled back a meter begins to slide to help you set the distance between the boat and the buoy, and when the forward motion is performed the on-screen character throws the hook to attempt to catch the buoy. Combos are achieved by hooking buoys in rapid succession, and this combo system is integrated in every mini-game within the game with the same results of money and time bonuses, with the one exception of the Retrieval mini-game which we'll get to later in the review. Once the crabs have been brought onto the deck, it's time to start sorting, bringing on the next mini-game.
Sorting is nothing more than a top-down view of what is supposed to be a sorting table, and grabbing and throwing the good crab to the right side to keep and the bad, barnacle-covered crab and fish to the left to discard overboard. Move should be an easy win here but the pointer – a small-hand cursor – is so hyper-sensitive that grabbing the desired crab becomes an unnecessary chore and again, DualShock offers better precision over the Move.
Once the ship's hold has been filled it’s time to cash in the crab for the financial reward waiting at port. Offloading is yet again another mini-game where a basket and a crane hook swing back and forth, and to offload the crab they must be tossed into the basket repeatedly without hitting the hook. With Move controls it requires only moving the on-screen cursor by left and right movements of the controller and pressing the X button to toss the crab, and DualShock is performed the same way with the analogue stick with both control methods performing adequately. Once the crabs are offloaded the results are posted and money is gained to make repairs to the ship and buy fuel if necessary; repairing the ship is a must as it constantly breaks down, forcing yet another mini-game to play out. Ship maintenance is really little more than a checkerboard with mechanical components on it, with cables to place from one point to another to create a circuit that somehow patches the ship's mechanical issues. If any of these mini-games sound like fun, we assure you they aren’t.
Crab fishing in the Bering Sea is supposed to be exciting and dangerous. Storms on the ocean move quickly and can create massive waves that create extremely hazardous conditions for the men on the deck of the ships. One slip can lead to death within minutes from the freezing temperature of the water, and crews have little chance of reclaiming a fellow crewmate in high seas. Sea of Chaos yet again fails here and doesn’t even live up to its title name, as even in hurricane conditions the waves barely create any differences in the mini-games outside of making it harder to see the buoys in the Retrieval mini-game. The only chaos to be found here is in trying to control the ship, which again has to be suffered through if a crew member does indeed fall overboard. The ship is then found with more floating circles once again, with a radar ping in the circles indicating the location of the fallen crew member. Once your shipmate has been found the Retrieval mini-game comes up, but this time the fallen crew member will float by to be rescued instead of buoys. Danger and/or excitement are nowhere to be found during this near loss of a crew member at all, and the feeling that this is the deadliest job in the world is never apparent.
Tournament Mode is a complete multiplayer failure: players take turns playing against each other locally, but not in split-screen – they literally take turns playing the game against each other, one player at a time. Graphically the game is last gen, full of bland graphics throughout the entire game and the audio isn’t any better, even having the game announcers’ voice skipping at times like a scratched audio CD. Long load times between every single action sequence even further drown the little fun to be had here. Even the trophy collection is lacking, with the complete lack of a Platinum trophy and only 17 trophies in total. Why this isn't a PSN release instead of a $50 retail release is utterly baffling.
Games based on license properties have recently taken a turn for the better with titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Goldeneye 007 for Wii and Toy Story 3. Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos falls at the opposite end of the spectrum, offering little more than an uninspired batch of mini-games that cover the basics of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. The highlight of the package is not in the gameplay itself, but that the game includes the tribute episode to fan-favourite Captain Phil Harris who passed away in the last season of the show from an illness. Deadliest Catch fans will find little here to even warrant a rental: not even Move can save this shipwreck.