Sky Sports 2 for 1 Summer Sports 2009

If there's one thing both golf and fishing have in common, it's their capacity to while away a summer afternoon. There aren't many sports that allow you to stop for tea and jam tarts, or sleep. The fact that these ones do makes me a huge fan.

It also makes perfect sense for Player One to combine the two sports here in its latest 2-4-1 pack, bringing a supermarket-like attitude to Bass Fishing Mania and Ernie Els Golf 2008.

Neither offers the freshest take on its respective sport, both having been released back in 2008, but their unification here means this is a package not to be sniffed at. It's unlikely to send its audience into a slumber, either.

Ernie Els Golf 2008, for instance, takes a much more hands on approach to play than some of its more mainstream rivals. Despite some surprisingly basic visuals - even for last year – it comes with the full range of shots (chips, bunker shots, punch shots and backspin) and holes that will test your golfing prowess to the max. But it does it all in an arranged, pre-set environment that gives little room for free play.

Before you can head out to the green, you have to pop along to the 'club house', which is the covert way Ernie Els Golf 2008 goes about controlling just who you take to the green with and in what way.

From there, you then receive invitations to tee-off (either to take part in stroke-play competitions, or rounds following match-play rules), with each round you take part in having to be completed in a set number of strokes.

As Rob Hearn pointed out in the original review, “This set-up can be immensely frustrating, particularly since you can't go back and replay a previous round that you preferred. You're stuck with each event, and each event alone, until you finish it properly.

"This feels restrictive compared to most golf games. It would have been nice to have the choice of playing a round of any type whenever, rather than constantly revisiting the same staged scenarios. This restrictiveness isn't fatal, but it niggles.”

This domineering hand in play isn't at all reflected in Ernie Els Golf's bedfellow. Bass Fishing Mania offers a much looser take on its own sport, giving you the chance to either fish at your own pace and brush up on your skills in 'freeform' mode, or take on rivals in its competition set-up. Bass Fishing Mania uses a simple collation of controls to convey the purity of the sport.

With the '5' key casting your line into the water, '4' and '6' shifting the angle left and right and the '8' key hauling in any fish you ensnare, the essential part of play comes from following on-screen prompts when you have a catch on the line. The key is to hammer any directions shown while also keeping your rod slack enough to keep hold of the fish.

Bass Fishing Mania also incorporates an upgrade system, with further rods, lines and even radar available to keep the game moving forward.

As original reviewer Dan Spooner says, “It's a great system and helps to maintain a steady learning curve. Both technically and visually the design of the game is fantastic. Fish flap around like arrested protesters and the rod physics feel smooth and realistic.

"The sound also does a great job of building up tension, with tranquil melodies snapping into alarming countdowns as quick as you can shout, 'Hey Bubba, I've got a whopper!'.”

It's a much needed fun-fuelled counterbalance to Ernie Els Golf 2008's stringent style of play, then, and one that helps lift the value of this package overall. While there are many golf sims out there that outstrip Ernie Els on almost every level, the addition of Bass Fishing Mania adds a sense of variety and verve to the package as a whole.

This isn't a perfect purchase, then, but for some Sky Sports 2 for 1 Summer Sports 2009 will be worth buying for its fishing fiesta alone.

Sky Sports 2 for 1 Summer Sports 2009

Though Ernie Els Golf 2008 comes in over par, it is complimented by the freeform and fun filled nature of Bass Fishing Mania. Far from perfect, but a decent package none the less
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