The pot-setting minigame involves steering the boat toward targets highlighted on the ocean's surface, indicating where the crab lie. Utilizing only a few basic controls, it is nevertheless challenging and rewarding when you get it right. Pot retrieving involved throwing a line off the side of the boat to catch a buoy in the water. It plays like an old treadmill-style arcade game, but is also challenging and fun, as are the rest of the minigames, all of which involve some sort of timed action or variety of crab-flinging.
Individually, the minigames aren't much, but taken as a whole and combined with the more strategic aspects of the game, create what could have been a deep and engaging game if not for the frequent and frequently long loading screens. Even looking at the map to plot your next course involves loading, and closing involves more loading. There were times when playing the game that I completely forgot what I was doing, having been hypnotized by the load screen.
Much of this may be a porting issue. By the look and feel of the game, and from my experience polaying it at E3 2010, I can say that it is most definitely a better experience on the Wii (I played it on 360), and some of the minigames, especially the crab-sorting game (which involves picking up and flinging crab) are clumsy using the Xbox controller, but much more entertaining on the Wii. Given this review is based on the Xbox 360 version we received from Crave, we felt it necessary to award our review score accordingly. If we had reviewed the Wii version, however, I'm confident the game would have earned an extra star.
On the whole, Sea of Chaos does make crab fishing accessible and engaging, but whether the activity benefits from the treatment is an open question. There is a deep, engaging game in here, but it's hard to get to. Almost exactly half of the time I spent playing Sea of Chaos was spent staring at a loading screen, which essentially eroded my willingness to go on. As a metaphor for the long stretches of drudgery mixed with short bursts fo high-adrenaline that is crab fishing in the Bering Sea, I suppose Sea of Chaos hits exactly the right mark.
Bottom Line: Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos is a fun game for casual players or fans of the series looking to spend more time with the crews, but hardcore gamers will be turned off by the relative simplicity and loading times.
Recommendation: This would make a good stocking stuffer for someone you know with a complete DVD set of the TV show, or for kids, but I'd recommend getting it for the Wii. The motion controls make the game more fun and the loading may be less of an issue.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Game: Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos
Developer: Double Tap
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Platform: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360
Available from: Amazon.com