12th Apr2019

‘Fire Pro Wrestling World’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

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Fire Pro Wrestling World is a professional wrestling game, where the right timing and strategy is key to succeed – gameplay features the series has become famous for. With New Japan Pro-Wrestling officially licensed and IWGP Heavyweight Championship included, the game features a story mode, Battle Royale, MMA rules matches, and more. Fire Pro Wrestling World is the first game in the long running game series with online multiplayer, holding up to four players in a match.

Fire Pro Wrestling is one of those video game franchises that has, thanks to its longevity, achieved legendary status. Even moreso given that the series never really made it out of the Far East, available for many only via importing. And its those same long-term fans that Fire Pro Wrestling World will appeal to – for this is a game series that, apart from graphical upgrades, hasn’t changed much in years. Which means if you played and liked previous entries you’re bound to love this one!

Unlike the yearly WWE 2K games, Fire Pro Wrestling World doesn’t aim for realism, there’s no pixel-perfect recreations of wrestlers here, no recognisable rings. Instead this is like those wrestling games of yesteryear like Wrestlefest, and the WWE titles of the SNES/Megadrive era p where the games were about FUN rather than recreating a realistic interpretation of the current WWE roster. And that’s the big thing about Fire Pro Wrestling World – it’s fun. A lot of fun.

But getting the most fun out of Fire Pro Wrestling World takes some work upfront, especially if you’re used to 2k’s product. The biggest challenge face by new players to this particular franchise is the lack of any information in-game. As in there’s no health bars, no on-screen displays to speak of at all – beyond the match timer or course. That lack of information carries across to just how you play Fire Pro Wrestling World as well… Gone are the action-specific buttons too! Instead the game expects you to almost learn as you play, discovering the rhythm of the action for yourself. For this game is all about rhythm rather than out-and-out fighting a la the WWE series.

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Here you won’t win by throwing your opponents around the ring with your biggest moves; you won’t win by pummelling your opponents various body parts; you won’t win by pulling out the showstopping moves first. Nope. Instead Fire Pro Wrestling World expects players to build from small move to big move, escalating the “violence” through combining and following through with move after move, grapple after grapple; and its the grappling aspect of the game that works best for newbies. Much like the WWE 2K games though timing is STILL everything and, again, much like the aforementioned 2K wrestling titles, it can be frustrating learning that timing – but once you get used to the differences here – and more importantly the visual cues built into the game (watch out for the stomping feet!) – you’ll find it gets easier and easier to master the moves and put on one hell of a wrestling match.

If I had any quibbles with the game it would be the visuals. Yes, I get that Fire Pro Wrestling World is aiming for a completely different market to the WWE 2K games, but it wouldn’t hurt to have at least some visual flair to the menu systems would it? I’ll admit I loved the 16-bit style character designs but we didn’t need 16-bit era menus as well did we? Then there’s the difficulty level… Patience is the real key here, much more – in my opinion – than any other wrestling games. If learning the precise timing of reversal’s in WWE 2K frustrated you I’d be wary of recommending you pick up Fire Pro Wrestling World.

But if you’ve got everything you want out of those “other” wrestling games then Fire Pro Wrestling World might be worth a look. Even moreso if you’re a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling and its superstars!

Fire Pro Wrestling World is out now from Spike Chunsoft.

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