I’ve played a couple of Fire Pro games and a vast number of WWE games over the years, but here’s the rub; I’m not actually a wrestling fan. Go easy on me.
The finest element of Fire Pro comes in the form of its perfectly nuanced grappling mechanics. Yes, there’s the usual mix of timing and light-medium-heavy balancing at play and it may all sound merely competent on paper, but Fire Pro demands you pay attention; if you button-mash, you’ll have your backside handed to you, if strikes aren’t properly distanced, you’ll leave yourself wide open. Fights are highly competitive and thus exciting. The fun side of squared circle is captured perfectly, without any of the fluff.
Wubba Dubba Dubba, That True?
The UI can be intimidating, unintuitive and downright unwieldly. However, if you can get over it, there’s a wealth of customisable options available from match types, roster appearance and even creation of your own franchise. Want landmines outside the ring? Sure. A proper MMA fight? There’s a mode for that. The usual hardcore, battle royale and cage fights are here with up to eight competitors able enter the ring.
Fighting road, the game’s story mode, consists of a visual novel-based campy trip through the ranks of Japan’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling scene. It’s a slow-paced, tongue-in-cheek, cheese-fest that’s got bags of charm and rarely fails to entertain, though it would be remiss of me not to admit it’s shallow. You level up and customise your attributes as you go, this aspect is reasonably engrossing and adds plenty of single-player content that arguably isn’t even necessary in a game that prides itself on its gameplay.
One of the best parts of Fire Pro is in its customisable exhibition matches, especially in multiplayer. Ramp up the difficulty setting and every victory feels hard-earned. Every match feels epic. Every pin, nerve-wracking. A simple one-on-one can become a highly technical dance-off, with deep strategic planning entirely plausible.
Woah, you go big Guy
The character creation is as fantastic as ever, allowing you to create whichever wrestler, superhero, historical figure or deformed monstrosity you can come up with. Or Larry David, you can create Larry David. Individual layers and body parts can be recoloured, reshaped and resized to any specification from proportional to uber weird. This extends to many facets of performance statistics and, of perhaps greatest interest for most, moves. Fire Pro Wrestling World contains as many moves as you need; DDT variations, piledrivers, suplexes, power bombs, MMA moves, submissions, classic WWE signature moves (though not labelled as such), not to mention the taunts, turnbuckle moves and… you know, massive dives off the top of the cage.
There’s another tool available, too should you find your creative well running dry, the ability to download other people’s creations. As you can imagine, there’s everything you could possibly want at the touch of a button (well a couple of buttons, thanks to peteg9699’s Reddit post with their handy how-to guide). The downloads aren’t limited to the initially missing WWE roster, no, no, there are anime characters, superheroes and pretty much something for everyone.
Pose for the Fans
OK, so Fire Pro Wrestling World doesn’t have the visual bells and whistles, nor the show-boating-over-the-top simulation aspects of 2K’s WWE titles. However, with the wealth of options, the insane level of customisation, the infinite draw of the superb multiplayer and the technically satisfying core wrestling mechanics, there’s no better option on the market for the sport. Its graphical style may put some off but that’s always added to the charm for me. The harshest criticism I can give is that there isn’t enough new content, for anyone not taken in by the story mode.
If you’ve played a Fire Pro game before, you were likely expecting most of what’s on offer here already, plus more. If you fall into that camp, you may be a tad disappointed. If you’re simply after a rock-solid core Fire Pro experience on PS4 or Steam, look no further. For everyone else, as long as you learn to competently time your grapples, you should have plenty of what’s missing in most modern sports titles, say it with me folks; fun.
Overall Score: 8/10
Fire Pro Wrestling World is a pure wrestling experience that delivers deep mechanics and unparallel customisation. Is there a better way to dance with men in undies?
Formats: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Price: £44.99 (UK PSN)
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 28/08/2018 (PSN)
Review copy provided by publisher