Fire Pro Wrestling Returns Review

I’ve always loved the Fire Pro series. Until it broke a few months back, I still had my Dreamcast hooked up just so I could play FPD. The series is (in my mind) the best out there for actual wrestling fans, and for once we won’t have to import (or download) it to enjoy it. (The GBA games don’t count.) If you want the flashy entrances, the cutscenes, and the backstage brawling, by all means pick up the next WWF (I know it’s the WWE now) game. If you want pure wrestling action, a deep gameplay system and a huge level of customization extremely cheap, pick up Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.

The biggest draw of this game is that it sells for $15. If you’ve lovged the series before, it’s an absolute steal. If you’ve never really tried it, it’s an amazingly cheap price for a new game. Win-win, basically.

But what will you be getting? Like I said, you’ll be getting the best wrestling gameplay there is. It’s not something a casual gamer can pick up and master (such as No Mercy), but it’s simple enough anyone can learn. Grappling is the heart of FPD. To initiate a grapple, you just have to make your wrestler touch the other. From there, it’s a matter of pushing a direction on the pad and a face button (for the varying strengths of maneuvers). Time it right, and you pull off the move. The game is all about timing, and that takes some getting used to.

In addition to the 16 grapples, each wrestler has a variety of other moves expected in a wrestling game, ranging from normal strikes to irish whip attacks to aerial strikes. The amount of moves each wrestler has is pretty daunting for people used to some of the more mainstream games, so it may seem like there’s too much to pick from. That’s the point, though, because Fire Pro is about realism. You can’t just go for strong grapples and the finisher right off the bat; you need to weaken them with punches, arm drags, body slams, sleeper holds, and all the regular stuff they do on TV.

If you’re not a Fire Pro regular, you may look at the lineup of Japanese wrestlers and the unfamiliar names and wonder who the hell you’re going to play as, or who any of these people are. That’s where Fire Pro’s biggest asset comes in: customization.

The series has always been known for its deep customization, and FPR is without a doubt the best yet. Whether it’s create-a-wrestler, create-a-belt or more, you can do quite a bit. Obviously, the CAW is the biggest draw. Little things that fans of the last installments have wanted to make creating a wrestler easier are present. If you’re new you won’t be able to tell what those are, but you will be able to tell there is an insane amount of moves and other things to do. Creating a character (if you go all out) can take more than an hour, especially when you get into the CPU logic and all the smaller, unseen things. (That’s right, you can create your created character’s AI.)

If you don’t want to do that, that’s where the awesome Fire Pro community comes in. In past games (especially FPD) it was easy to just download saves featuring current wrestlers, WWF guys, TNA guys, Legends, etc. and import them onto your memory cards. Fire Pro Returns allows you to do that as well, and if you own a PS3 (which this plays on) it’s a matter of transferring data to your USB stick. (If you don’t, you’d need the save transfer stuff for PS2, so if you don’t have it I guess you’re out of luck.)

The graphics certainly won’t wow anyone, and could pass for SNES. That may be a huge weakpoint for some, but it really doesn’t matter. You won’t get the best looking game of the year (or even day) if you get Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. What you will get is the best wrestling game on the market, and one any true fan of wrestling needs to pick up.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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