Giant Bomb Review


Fire Pro Wrestling Review

  • XBGS

Fire Pro Wrestling for XBLA is an inexplicable, almost likable fiasco.

I don't know that I've ever willingly spent more time playing an unquestionably bad game than I have with Fire Pro Wrestling for Xbox Live Arcade. The premise is simple: your Xbox Live avatar wrestles other Xbox Live avatars. Sometimes it's your friends, sometimes it's random strangers online, or sometimes it's generic rip-offs of popular wrestlers controlled by the computer. Whatever the case, the act of actually wrestling is what sinks Fire Pro. It doesn't play well at all. And yet, the staggering volume of character-building elements available in Fire Pro implies that there's more going on here than just another terrible wrestling game. Basically, Fire Pro is kind of horrible, and yet weirdly compelling.

It's a game where Xbox Live avatars wrestle each other. Can I just end the review right here?

Yes, this is ostensibly of the same Fire Pro Wrestling family of 2D wrestling games. Except it's not. Whatever still remains of original Fire Pro developer Spike churned out a game with several key hallmarks of the Fire Pro series, but only a fraction of the fun. It's like the discarded exoskeleton of a much better wrestling game.

The living, breathing portion of Fire Pro Wrestling, namely its challenging, often vexing gameplay engine, apparently wandered off, and an awkward, generally unchallenging gameplay system has taken up residence in its place. The timing-based grappling engine is replaced with a system that seems to have WWF No Mercy fans at least somewhat in mind, what with its weak and strong grappling system, and taunt-oriented finishers. Except that whatever sense of speed and timing you might expect from, well, any modern day wrestling game is completely absent. Characters dully lumber around the ring, swiping and grabbing for one another. Strong grapples are largely useless against any opponent who knows what they're doing, since they take so long to wind up. The same goes for charge moves, which you can only pull off when your opponent is pretty much completely dead. That means that you'll often just keep wandering up to people, grappling them, doing one of two, maybe three moves, and repeat until finisher.

And yet I kept playing. Not just because I was reviewing it, but for hours longer than I needed to. For as stump-dumb as the gameplay is, there's something inexplicably likable about Fire Pro Wrestling. It probably has a lot to do with the sheer volume of upgradeable moves and stats you have at your disposal. As you play, you'll earn experience points you can use to boost your wrestler up in a bunch of different ways. You'll also unlock new moves, many of which recall the sort of zany, over-the-top cartoon nonsense of AKI's Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E., albeit with far less interesting characters.

When you have other players around to play against, it's especially good, since the sometimes cheap, yet always clueless AI players tend to get old sometime around the moment you hit level 25. Unfortunately, those people are going to need to be in the room with you. The online mode in Fire Pro is just this side of busted. Lag was prevalent throughout every match I played, and in the most heinous circumstances, control input would drop down to nearly a full second of delay behind my button presses. At that point, you're just mashing buttons and hoping something connects.

For these reasons, it's difficult to recommend Fire Pro Wrestling to just about anyone. I enjoyed it in spurts, but there's just too much wrong here to hold your attention for long. As amusing as it can be, it's really just a janky wrestling game with avatars stapled on for maximum stupidity. This is a game that either needed to be way simpler, or way more complicated, because the middle ground stinks.

Alex Navarro on Google+
26 Comments Refresh
Posted by TheStimpinator

Finally a way for my avatar to lay the smack down on those other avatars that look at him funny.

Posted by wumbo3000

This is actually a game you pay money for? Weird.

Posted by Phished0ne

Alex writes the best review decks ever. There is something about the way the phrase "Inexplicable almost likeable fiasco" sounds that is just pleasing to my ears. Almost sounds like a rap line.

Posted by bassman2112

After having seen the Quick Look, I can't say I'm super surprised. I agree with Alex, though. This seems like the kind of thing that, had this been released in the 90s, I would have loved to rent this game. It seems like something that isn't great, but is still kind of fun in bursts. Oh well.

Posted by TheHumanDove

How did I know Alex was going to review this fucking game? I lol'd

Posted by IntoTheN1ght

What a god damn sham of a game, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on the PS2 is still the definitive version of the series and quite possibly the greatest wrestling game ever made (Only real competition are the AKI games).

Why not just call this "Avatar Rasslin'" and not drag the FPW name into it? It is not like the FPW name really carries much weight in terms of sales, may aswell leave it alone and maybe do a proper game?

Posted by BSw

Apparently, these avatar games do have some sort of value for Microsoft, although I have no idea where that value comes from. Are these games actually profitable, or is it somehting else they do? Can somebody point me in a direction here?

Posted by legendlexicon

Alex I feel sorry for you.

Posted by wisdumcube

Poor Alex always gets stuck reviewing the middling games.

Posted by AjayRaz

all of the customization stuff was pretty cool when i tried out the demo, as it always is with Fire Pro Wrestling but the gameplay is just so.. bad. i wonder if anybody actually played the game before releasing it

Posted by bkbroiler

I think this review is proof Alex now has Stockholm Syndrome from reviewing so many bad games. He's actually starting to like them.

Edited by MadaRenrut

@BSw: We forget that we aren't the only "gamers" out there, there are people that play games that have children as well, I was watching the quick look also thinking this is dumb. Also BKBrolier, I doubt that, he is seeing the game for what it is and letting himself see it from every possible angle. As I said in the quick look. I was watching this quick look when my newly 10 year old walked in the room and stood there watching in amazement. Something he hasn't done before. Now he has the game and loves playing it. So that should answer your question as to why.

Posted by TheDaveMagic

Posted by tourgen

@MadaRenrut: yep, I can remember a time when I would have thought this game was the best thing in the world.

Posted by BeachThunder

Wait, two stars? This game looks like the very definition of hot garbage. Not to mention how lazy and uninspired the game seems.

Posted by yoshimitz707

God damn, Alex! Now I want to go watch Ultimate Muscle again!

Posted by dropabombonit

Game looked awful from the quick look but could see how Stockholm syndrome could set in

Edited by mcmax3000

@BSw said:

Apparently, these avatar games do have some sort of value for Microsoft, although I have no idea where that value comes from. Are these games actually profitable, or is it somehting else they do? Can somebody point me in a direction here?

Simple. They not only make money selling the game, but when people get into playing a game that uses their avatar, they'll be more likely to pay for new clothing on the avatar marketplace.

Obviously that comes down to the quality of the game, but it's the theory at least.

Posted by Undeadpool

@wisdumcube said:

Poor Alex always gets stuck reviewing the middling games.

All that was old is new again.

Posted by MikkaQ

@tourgen said:

@MadaRenrut: yep, I can remember a time when I would have thought this game was the best thing in the world.

Yeah when it was called No Mercy.

Posted by Palaeomerus

"It's like the discarded exoskeleton of a much better wrestling game."

So games...molt like arachnids, crustaceans, and some insects and leave behind other less impressive games? Does this happen in the real world or only on the outskirts of the peyote zone?

Posted by csl316

Maximum stupidity? Now you got my attention.

This review reads like Alex was constantly at odds with himself, like an internal struggle that left him a broken man.

Posted by MetalMoog

What a waste of a great franchise. I really wish they would just port Firepro Returns over to PSN or XBLA so I could play that with friends and share wrestlers, logos and rings.

Posted by rts375

Poor Alex, ha ha ha.

Posted by Korolev

RISE UP ALEX! Fight against your editorial masters and demand better games to review! Or at least find an intern and get them to do it! You're young Alex! Don't waste your life reviewing these bad games! Don't end up one day, old and tired, looking into a mirror, staring at your sad, haggard eyes, whispering "Where did it go so wrong.....", while clutching a copy of "Goom Goom Ballz 6: Wild French Adventure" for the Kinect 5.

Posted by honkyjesus

I decided to eat your children if you didn't give this... I forget what I was saying.