Going to the mat with Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

By Dan Zuccarelli . December 15, 2007 . 5:17pm

fpr1.jpgI'm not what you would call a wrestling fan. In fact I initially resisted wanting to take a look at Fire Pro Wrestling Returns from Agetec, since I didn't want my "meh" attitude towards wrestling to taint an otherwise good game. To be completely honest, I've never heard of the Fire Pro series but after doing some research on the internet found out it has quite the pedigree and a huge number of titles overseas, but this was the first time it was making it to North America on the PS2. I'm always interested in titles popular overseas so I eventually relented and agreed to check out the title, and I'm glad I did. It's actually a fun little game.

 

While this won't make me start Tivo-ing wrestling shows (Unless they bring back G.L.O.W of course), I did have a good time playing the game. Not to say it didn't have issues.

 

fpr2.jpg

Sadly the first impression the game makes once you start it up isn't a good one. The graphics look like they're on par with early Playstation 1 games, and even that might be giving it too much credit. In short they're terrible, especially the menu screens. Luckily the wrestlers themselves are made up of sprites so they keep a cooler retro-look to them. And while I'm of the school of gamer that believe that graphics are much less important than gameplay, the graphics here are so bad they're a bit distracting so it's worth noting.

 

But while the menus may look like crap, they offer enough options that it literally staggers the mind. Even trying to start a generic first match to learn the game you're given choices of 7 different modes ranging from the usual like Tag-Team and Tournament to Battle Royal. Of course that's just the start, because there's even 7 types of Exhibition fights! Some of those are out there too, with choices like Barbed Wire or Landmine Deathmatch. Needless to say, you'll spend quite a bit of time trying all the different kinds of matches they have. Once you pick the kind of fight you want it's then up to you to change any of the rules of the match like disqualifications of ring count-outs. Then comes choosing wrestler.

fpr3.jpg

 

Browsing quickly though all the choices I counted over 200 wrestlers built into the game. From lucadors to women, it seems that just about every facet of the wrestling community is represented. I'm not up on Japanese wrestling so I don't know if any of these characters are based on real people or not, but there were so many to choose from I just ended up picking guys with cool names. Or course the options get even deeper if you create your own guy, with everything from move sets to your own personal logo! 

 

Of course all of this is just a preamble to the game itself. If you're looking for a simple game, you're in the wrong place. The gameplay is very deep and complex. So much so that it requires a good bit of learning on the part of the player. There'll be no button mashing here, no pounding on the controller simplemindedly like you can get away with in other wrestling. So it's got a high learning curve, but after spending the time slogging through it though it all begins making sense. It's initially pretty off-putting, but this one rewards the player for tenacity.

 

I actually enjoyed the game a lot more than I ever would've guessed when I put the game in the machine. It's got some deep flaws (the graphics) but there's enough good to overcome and it provide a tight little gaming experience.


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  • Visionnerz

    2D graphics with awesome animations is a flaw? Where the graphics engine really shines is the ability to practically create any character in this game.

  • dwizzle13

    The graphics shouldn’t be looked upon with harshness. They are traditional, 2d graphics. The game is by far one of the best Western wrestling games available. I think all the features make up for the graphics and learning curve: There is a great create-a-wrestler, create-a-ring, logo edit, referee edit, and by far some of the BEST moves and match types in any wrestling game. It’s a shame the game will be overlooked because of the graphics and interface…

  • AK

    There will always be 3d whores what can you do?

  • Dan Zuccarelli

    I think I’m being misunderstood here guys, while I didn’t dig the graphics I did like the game! To be honest the 2d stuff was great, it was the 3d style stuff that threw me. But I’m old school and gameplay is king, not graphics, which is why I enjoyed the game overall (and stated as such).

    I’m no 3d whore, I can promise you that.

    Sorry if it came off that way, I never said the game should be overlooked because of the graphics, quite the opposite actually…

    “I actually enjoyed the game a lot more than I ever would’ve guessed when I put the game in the machine. It’s got some deep flaws (the graphics) but there’s enough good to overcome and it provide a tight little gaming experience.”

  • dwizzle13

    You might pick up the game along with people that read this site, but the problem is still that mainstream people would see other reviews and act like a 3d whore. If they could release king of colliseum 2, I wouldn’t be able to think of any reason why a person would stay away from the game, aside from the flaws like “poor 3d graphics”, and “lack of American stars” that a group like IGN would find.

  • Atlus Shrugged

    i got that fire.

  • EvilAkito

    Fire Pro Wrestling is great. I lost interest in wrestling (and wrestling games) about ten years ago, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with this game. And the create-a-wrestler feature has so many options that you could make just about anyone if you get creative enough. There’s nothing like doing a tag team match with Jesus and The Incredible Hulk against Chuck Norris and Captain Planet.

  • aber

    Check out the forums on http://www.fireproclub.com to see what this game can really do. With the hundereds of wrester edits, ring edits, ref edits, etc, you can literally experience nearly every type of wrestling promo past & present. Not to mention the MMA options as well. The 2D graphics & anmiations are great IMO. The controls are intuitve and work really well once you figure the timing, and no wrestling game ever has been able to pull off a realistic pace of a typical match, but Firepro nails it.

    This game is a “10″…nice to see some major sites recognize it as such (1UP.com).

  • SomeDude

    Dude. Someone besides me remembers the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling?

    That must mean you’re pretty old, Dan… :(

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