Fire Pro Wrestling is a series that sees very few localized releases, the last one was Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on the Playstation 2, choosing to ignore the Avatar one for X Box 360!. The series has quite the cult status with wrestling fans, especially those of us who owned a Dreamcast, it’s been a long time coming but Fire Pro is finally back!. Is this title the King of the Ring or just a cheap return spot at the Rumble? Read on to find out!.
Fire Pro Wrestling World is the latest debut from the long running series, it’s the first HD title in the series and the first that has seen it’s release on a console worldwide since Returns, riding the wave of interest in New Japan Pro Wrestling this is the first time the series has actually been released with a licensed roster. If the name wasn’t enough of a hint, Fire Pro Wrestling World is a game developed to celebrate the sport of wrestling but also covers MMA and even some Hardcore Wrestling, FPWW is quite the diverse beast when you get under it’s hood.
Right off the barbwire bat we will address the main criticism with the series and that’s the visuals and presentation, yes it’s not full 3D models with lifelike photo realistic features but instead closer to a 16bit/Indie title. This will initially hold some players back but once you spend a bit of time with the game understanding just what there is to offer it really becomes a none issue. The animation on the moves is fantastic, the amount of moves is mind boggling and the amount of content there to help you make any wrestler you can think of trumps any wrestling game since Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, this game isn’t just a yearly cash grab, this is the Gran Turismo of the Wrestling Genre, this is the true Wrestling Simulation.
Examples of what this game has going on include the Wrestler A.I, this allows you to fully tweak each wrestler to act exactly as they would at a show the Match Evaluation which gives you a percentage of just how good the match you just had was, stacked up against real matches meaning you have to wrestle matches exactly how you would of liked to see them, the main difference here is you can have a 100% Squash match or an Hour long heartstopper and still get the 100% as long as you take a proper wrestling match mentality.
Matches are fully customizable from it’s type to the ring rope colour, don’t like the Ref? well change him to suit your style, want to sim some Lucha Underground? Yeah you can do that too!. You can have Royal Rumbles, Cage Matches, Explosive Deathmatches and even MMA fights with the Octagon included. The match variety type here is untouchable in terms of flexibility, it’s an ideal game to get fans of wrestling round, start the local multiplayer and create your own PPV!.
So Fire Pro Wrestling World carries the NJPW Roster but what does that mean for the player?, well first off it saves you having to download or make the roster which is already a huge bonus, each character looks fantastic and the move sets are all authentic too. Another aspect of having said roster means we have the Fighting Road mode, this is NJPW the game/visual novel.
One of the aspects Fire Pro Wrestling has always been a little mixed with is the single player modes, outside of match types there have only been a few of the titles with an actually dedicated “Career” mode for it’s players, Fighting Road not only aims to provide that but wants to steal a whole bunch of your time too!. It gives me great pleasure to say that not only does it do both of it’s goals but it does them in a spectacular fashion!, the Fighting Road is more of a motorway in terms of length and the writing is fantastic too!. As a fan of NJPW it was a fantastic feeling to take my created wrestler through all the motions of becoming a NJPW superstar on the way to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship!.
You start the story off as a Young Lion while learning the very basics of the game, as you go on you’ll meet some named wrestlers with mini bios to help you learn your stuff, after a while you actually get sent to another company to learn a different style of wrestling and the story really starts to pick up as you constantly build and evolve your wrestler using it’s training system and in depth move-set to keep the ref holding your hand up at the end of the day.
Fighting Road teaches you the very basics of Fire Pro Wrestling, trust me when I say this, Fire Pro Wrestling has quite the learning curve, it’s far from pick up and play as the other games in the genre. To help this you have Mission Mode which will cover everything from the games Grappling System, it’s a timing based system, this mode gives you more than enough help to get to grips with this!. The mode also covers various match types and gives you the chance to really hone your skill before you play the Fighting Road mode or take the battles online.
Fire Pro Wrestling World is brilliantly customizable as I’ve mentioned a few times already, Wrestlers, Refs, Rings, Belts, if you can think of it, you can make it, but what if you aren’t as creative as some?, well Fire Pro Wrestling World has you covered!. If you want to download yourself some extra wrestlers from say WWE or WCW, there is an option in game to head over to the Creators website, here you can download or upload creations for other players to add to your game. It is a little finicky when using the controller but you can long into it from any browser, subscribe the wrestlers and when you load up your game next the content will auto download for you, brilliant stuff and helps you have the most up to date roster around!.
For the first time ever, Fire Pro Wrestling World has online features. No longer do you need to drag your game and controller across the city to wrestle your friends, no Spike Chunsoft have hooked you up with a functioning Online mode!, Casual and Ranked systems are here and the match types though not all the match are available it’s still a good amount of fun with a strong connection. I didn’t spend too much time with the online mode on the Playstation 4, I did play a bit more on the PC but for me, Fire Pro Wrestling is a local multiplayer title and that’s where it truly shines.
Fire Pro Wrestling World does have quite the learning curve for newcomers, I have been playing the series for years and have lost hundreds of hours on just Fire Pro Wrestling D alone, even with this it was worth going through Mission Mode just to get rid of some of the ring rust, added bonus is that it’s actually fun and unlocks more of the original wrestlers!. Some of the moves and features of the game will take a little longer to get to used to and you will miss the odd Lariat here and there while you get used to the Wrestler sprites and movement but I can assure you, what you put into this game you’ll get double back.
Fact, you won’t need to buy another Wrestling game for a LONG time if you own this title, feel like running some classic AWA matches, head online or create your own wrestlers, ring, belts, refs then go do it, want to be an NJPW Superstar, then start that long walk up the Fighting Road, multiplayer madness?, well get your friends around, load up a Battle Royale (Not that kind!) and crack some beers, you’ll be there all night!. With talk of DLC including Ring Promoter & 2 Extra story modes the future is bright for the King of the Ring, it’s time for you to let Fire Pro Wrestling into your life, your household may not thank you but that inner wrestling fan will be happier than witnessing NWO vs DX again!.