When Spike Chunsoft announced Fire Pro was returning on Steam Early Access, it was the first time I had heard of the franchise. It is pretty crazy that I’ve played almost every wrestling game since the PS1 era and never been exposed to Fire Pro Wrestling in any form. Fast forward to today, it has been over a month since Fire Pro Wrestling World has released on PS4 and I’ve been playing and enjoying it daily. Having never played the franchise before, it is mindblowing how well certain things play out here and how deep the customization is in Spike Chunsoft’s new Fire Pro game.
While WWE 2K19 is a welcome step in the right direction and is a great game if you’re a WWE fan, wrestling fans have been wanting more from a game for ages. In fact, the WWE games have had no real competition until now. While Fire Pro will likely not even make a dent in the sales for WWE 2K19, I’m glad there finally is a wrestling game catering to old school fans and fans of wrestling games who want gameplay that has a lot of depth as opposed to just a huge roster and improved visuals.
At first, Fire Pro will take you a while to get used to. The interface in matches is minimal. Everything is about timing. Grappling is a very important part of the gameplay here. While it may initially seem barebones, there’s a lot going on. The flow of a wrestling match feels like it does when you’re watching a good one on TV. The moveset available to you changes over time. You can’t just hit a finisher right from the start like you could in some older WWE games. Thankfully there’s a great tutorial in Mission Mode that gets your into the action quickly.
Out of all the wrestling games I’ve played ECW Anarchy Rulz was my favourite for customisation options. That title now belongs to Fire Pro Wrestling World. The options are nearly endless and if you aren’t a fan of spending time to make the characters you want to play as, there’s a simple solution available at firepro-w.com. This website lets you link your PSN account and then search the plethora of creations available online that have been done by other players worldwide. You can subscribe to creations and then they get downloaded when you boot up the game next. I had no trouble finding very well done versions (even with taunts in some cases) of the likes of Stone Cold, Asuka, The Rock, and more. Outside of customising and creating wrestlers, you can even do referees, teams, rings, belts, and more. It is very well done.
Visuals are not the strongest part of Fire Pro. The menus are clunky in some areas and the visuals are not what you’d call current generation by any means. Thankfully, the art style works well during matches and performance has been great on PS4 Pro. It is hard to talk about Fire Pro without mentioning older wrestling games and I mean that in the best way. Even the visuals remind me of older games but with a modern feel. One aspect that feels like a breath of fresh air is the AI here. With how well thought out the match flow is, even watching the CPU fight against CPU is great.
Fire Pro isn’t perfect. While I cannot fault the core gameplay at all, the initial roster is lacking. Sure, the create and edit modes can rectify this to some extent, but the initial roster is pretty lacking compared to earlier games in the franchise. For what is basically a game that introduces a new generation (and a much larger audience) to Fire Pro, Spike Chunsoft should’ve had a better showing here. The other area that needs work is the music. There are too few tracks and while I’m not expecting a big name licensed soundtrack like the WWE 2K games, Spike Chunsoft needs to add in more original tracks.
Overall, Fire Pro Wrestling World is definitely the best wrestling game on current generation systems and one of the best wrestling games since the PS2 era. If you’re a fan of wrestling, you owe it to yourself to play this. The customisation options are endless and there’s a ton of fun to have here. The presentation lacks the bells and whistles seen in the WWE 2K games but this is as close as you will get to the golden era of wrestling games. My biggest regret is not getting into the series sooner.