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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Wrestling

 

Publisher

Atlus

 

Developer

Spike

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2007

 

 

- Super in-depth

- Nice, nostalgic elements

- Plenty of customization

- Very challenging

 

 

- May be too difficult for some players

- Those expecting an experience similar to a WWE match will be sorely disappointed

 

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Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

Score: 7.5/10

 

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A lot of times games that hark back to past eras run the risk of feeling dated, with old control schemes that have long since been replaced with something much better, or fancy graphics, or whatever. Somehow, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (FPWR), while being much of this, manages to keep the player's attention by retaining that old school fun factor that many of us probably remember while playing games against friends on their 8 or 16-bit systems. It's archaic in every way, but it's sheer level of depth makes it hard not to enjoy the game.

 

Right from the start the visuals are like something straight out of an SNES game with 2D wrestlers taking to the ring, intent on thumping each other as best they can. It's such a throwback to the games of old, and also very true to the Fire Pro Wrestling series, with these simple, yet charming visuals. It's tempting to write them off as dated, but it causes the game to tug at players nostalgic heart strings. However, for those who have grown up in the age of 3D graphics, this style may be a bit of a let down.

 

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While the visuals are nice to the nostalgically minded, there is no saving the music in this game. It's pure cheese, and will absolutely irritate the most patient of gamers. There is plenty of butt rock here that will have most players leaping for the mute button on their TV remote within seconds. It's an awful, awful audio experience.

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Gameplay itself is quite deep. There are tons of moves to learn, and pulling them off takes very good timing. Compared to other wrestling games, FPWR is a lot less forgiving, and really requires players to get a good handle on the play mechanics if they want to do well in this game.  There is a fairly steep learning curve for anyone that really wants to get good at the game.  Also, there are a lot of moves to learn, many of them focusing on grappling, and precision is key if you want to do well here. Button mashing is a big no-no in FPWR.

 

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FPWR also sports a small army of different game modes. Of course, there's the traditional match, but there are also cage matches, S-1 rules matches (striking only), barbed wire deathmatches, and landmine matches (when time runs out there's a big explosion), among others. It's a bit more of an old school, less gimmicky approach to wrestling bouts, which is quite welcome.

 

One other area chock full of depth here is the game's create a wrestler mode (not to mention the FPWR's other "create-a-xyz" modes). Players can go to great lengths to make their own character by giving them a detailed selection of fighting styles, AI, and, of course, appearance. What's really impressive, though, is the selection of moves that are available. It's just staggering sifting through the selection of moves that one can assign to a character. If you can think of a move, there's a pretty good chance it's in this game, which makes for an interesting combination of attacks that players can choose from while making their own wrestler.

 

Compared to many other wrestling games, FPWR is a much more old school affair, but it is also extremely details oriented. From the precision of pulling off moves, to the sheer amount of customizing that is available, it gives players a lot to sink their teeth into. Be prepared for a challenge, though, because getting a handle on this game won't come easy. However, for a game that sells for under $20, it's unlikely many will complain to much if FPWR hands out more than a few sound thumpings as players learn the ins and outs of the game.

 

Jeff Nash

February 11, 2008

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