With the WWE 2K series taking it a little far with being the “most realistic” wrestling sim in video games and no apparent plans to release another Def Jam game anytime soon, it’s been years since players have had a wrestling game that’s both fun and easy to pick up and play. Fire Pro Wrestling World looks to take over that mantle, and they’re pretty damn close.
What Is It?
Fire Pro Wrestling is hardly a new franchise by any means, but with the recent uptick in popularity of New Japan Pro-Wrestling–it feels like a totally new game thanks to their partnership with Spike Chunsoft. Instead of seemingly random and generic wrestlers, you have access to starts like Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, definitely upping the ante and making the game feel like a real alternative to WWE 2K.
The gameplay is largely unchanged. Success in Fire Pro Wrestling is all about getting the timing right while chaining it with effective and varied combinations of moves while not being too imposing and redundant. If you’re used to just about any other wrestling game, there’s a bit of learning curve, but the game’s wealth of tutorial modes does a solid job of showing you the basics. It’s just a matter of making sure you have the trigger memory to understand everything you’re doing.
Why Should I Care?
With recognizable stars this time around, it makes Fire Pro Wrestling all the more playable with its tried and true gameplay and a pretty overwhelming abundance of customization options.
Since the game was available on early access via Steam for quite a while, people have been trying their hand at customizing rings and creating superstars, so if you decide to play the game now, you can download all sorts of stuff to really enhance the experience. When we got the game at launch, there were already builds of various superstars and rings available for the taking, so you bet we finally had that dream match between the current Bullet Club and the original nWo. A.J. Styles vs. Rey Mysterio at Halloween Havoc? The New Day vs. The Young Bucks at the Impact Zone? It’s all possible with the wealth of options there are at everyone’s disposal. You also have your choice of cage matches, matches with barbed wire and explosions, MMA rules, and all sorts of weird stuff you wouldn’t think would be available.
The beauty of all those possibilities was that they were already there for me to download. The problem is that they took forever. Pretty much everything you could ever want in the world of professional wrestling is within the realm of possibility in Fire Pro Wrestling World, but it all has to acquired one by one, and this is where you’ll spend all your hours in-game in an attempt to create all your dream match scenarios.
If you’re the creative person that wants to do this all on your own, it’s also a bit of work, and the fact that the game’s UI is beyond finicky does nobody any favors. The game’s menus sort of resemble that of mobile games, where you have to constantly force your way through different attached menus to do whatever it is you want to do. So if you’re doing something like creating a wrestler, not only do you have to confirm option after option, you’re also spending a lot of time scrolling through, and it’s just boring.
The menus are also a big hindrance as far as regular play goes. When you’re playing with friends on the couch, sometimes it’s just easier for one person to adjust all the settings and select the wrestlers. For example, for any type of match you pick, you have to highlight the right field to choose your wrestler, go over to the opposing side, change the active CPU player to a human, and then pick the wrestler before choosing more trivial things like outfits and other settings. You then have to scroll down the menu screen to confirm the settings, and to make matters worse, the translation is piss poor at best. It’s almost impossible for someone new to pick up and play because odds are that person won’t even know how to set a match up. It isn’t unbearable, but it’s tough to defend Spike Chunsoft’s localization team here–if there even was one.
This is exactly what makes the game’s single player campaign mode feel so estranged. There’s shades of goodness here. It’s about making it in NJPW, but the translation is so bad, it just ruins any sort of spectacle you think you’re getting yourself into. Throw in the fact that competing in various matches is just no fun alone, and you have something that’s honestly not worth talking about.
The true joy you’ll find in Fire Pro Wrestling World is in multiplayer and understanding the fact that while it’s a fighting game at its core, it really does a fantastic job at emulating pro wrestling. If you’re being dominated, or you’re dominating your opponent, you’ll receive lower match ratings. If you and your opponent are exchanging blows while putting on a hell of a show for the audience, that nets you a better rating. That’s what nets the Meltzer five-star ratings in real life, and the action involved is really something that wrestling fans will appreciate.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money
Fire Pro Wrestling World is a whole lot of fun and will definitely appeal to hardcore wrestling fans looking for a video game to satiate the craving of a WWE alternative. It’s nowhere near as fun as the N64 classics developed by AKI, but its visuals and authenticity to both New Japan Pro-Wrestling and professional wrestling in general make it an impressive package. The customization options really enhance the game’s depth and really sets it up to be a wrestling game to end all wrestling games.
That said, the learning curve might be a bit of a hill to get over, but once you’re over that hill you’d be tough pressed to find any other professional wrestling game in the current market that does it better.