Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm Review
By Corey Stoneburner |
In the realm of videogames, unusual releases are both highly anticipated and regularly abhorred. Where one gamer sees a unique diamond in the rough, another gamer will see something terrible. Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm can easily be classified as one of those games. Based on the hit Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, Alaskan Storm is a true simulation of the experience portrayed throughout the series. For those unfamiliar with the show, Deadliest Catch follows the lives of Alaskan crab fishermen who risk life and limb for the massive amounts of money involved in their industry. And if you think I'm being facetious in my risk comment, keep in mind that crabbing off of Alaska's Aleutian Islands is considered one of the world's deadliest jobs... hence the name of the show and game.
Alaskan Storm is a simulation and strategy game through and through, requiring critical thinking and planning to succeed. If you're not a fan of sims, you should know immediately that this game isn't for you. The experience that it does provide for fans of the show and fans of simulation-style games is a deep and engrossing one, however. Its crossover appeal between fanatics of the show and fans of simulation games in general is immediately evident as soon as you start up a new career, for you can either pick from some of the show's better-known ships (such as the Northwestern) or create your own from thin air. But that only scratches the surface of the game's depth. After choosing your ship, you have to hire a crew, outfit your ship with fuel, buy bait and other crabbing essentials and plot a route before you even leave the harbor.
Hiring your crew is perhaps the most daunting of your early tasks in the game, because there's a lot to balance out and consider. The more desirable crew members, those who have extensive skills and experience, can't provide the makeup of your entire party. They simply cost too much. Instead, you'll have to balance out your party between experienced members and outright novices (called greenhorns) who are completely new to crabbing. You'll also have to keep an eye out for the individual skills of each member of your party so that all five jobs -- Deck Boss, Engineer, Medic, Cook and Bait Boy -- can be filled out to the best of each member's ability. When you've done that, you then have to carefully balance out your purchased cargo, because no ship can carry the maximum amount of fuel, bait and pots you'll want to have with you. Instead, you'll have to compromise one for the other, over and over again as you play.
If you're not a fan of the television show then you will be introduced to a lot of new terminology while playing the game. For instance, the term "pots" refers to the bait-lined traps crabbers drop into the water to lure in their catch, while a "bait boy" is usually the lowest ranking member of a ship's team who prepares pots for deployment. This can be incredibly confusing, but that's where Captain Sig Hansen comes into play. Captain Sig is the most well-known ship captain from the Discovery Channel show, and he appears in the game time and time again to explain what's going on around you.
Create your own boat or use one the show has made famous.These videos offer a real draw to fans of the show, but their importance is much greater than that, because Sig will let you know when you're doing something right or something wrong, especially during the game's lengthy opening tutorial. He'll appear less and less as you start moving through the game's crabbing seasons (usually only when you've done something you haven't done before, such as stacking a pot instead of redeploying it in an area chock-full of crabs), but his appearance certainly ties together the game and the license nicely. Developer Liquid Dragon Studios should certainly be commended for making sure the game absolutely reeks of its license.