Review by handofdoom
"The Last Dance"
''All good things must come to an end.'' A quote many of us have heard in some point in our lives, now applies to one of the finest wrestling game series ever concocted. Since its inception the Fire Pro Wrestling series had amazed gamers with its depth, gameplay and sheer fun value. In many ways it has become the David to the Goliath of modern wrestling games. Whereas current wrestling games put emphasis on graphics and flashy entrances and have enthralled an audience of many, Fire Pro quietly stole a lucky few of us our hearts with its tried and true gameplay, sprites and edit mode. Fire Pro Wrestling Z is the swan song of the series. But what a fine song it is.
To those who know Fire Pro inside and out there need no explanation of how the game plays. We know it rocks the house to this day. To those who don't, well, imagine a wrestling game with a roster with over 100 wrestlers. Creating a federation of your own, its logo and ring is available at your fingertips. Thousands of moves to choose from and creating any modern wrestler is possible with some exceptions. Not enough? Alright. Three types of deathmatch for the sadistic crowd. And weapons to add to the carnage. 8 man battle royals, 16 man tourneys and 64 men leagues can also be created. We're talking quicksand like depth here folks. If you are a true wrestling fan this game has got the goods.
Fire Pro's visuals have never been it's selling point. And I like that. That means they focus on the most important thing about a game. Gameplay. To be honest Fire Pro's sprites have grown on me, I think they are wonderfully animated and well detailed. Not all is perfect however, Certain moves just don't look right in 2d, or the way that they're animated anyways. Fire Pro's piledriver and somoan drop have always looked odd to me but those exceptions are not the rule and most animations are good. FPZ's sprites are done well, but in my opinion FPD's(on the Dreamcast respectively) sprites looked larger and more detailed. But I say that's more likely the limitations of the PS2 then the developers. But that's just me.
Now we come to FPZ's sound. This really breaks my heart because the series has sounded much better( see FPD) and it really disappoints me that it does not meet that standard or exceed it. Crowds in FPD would count along with the ref and pop for big moves( in a way). In FPZ the crowd does not count along, and there is a point when the crowd comes to a murmer and loops over and over again. Super annoying. This is probably the weakest point in the game.
Because this game is super loaded with features, the replay value is fairly high. If your new to the series the replay value is most likely a lot higher than folks who have played FPD or previous Fire Pro games. Many feel that FPZ is merely an upgrade to FPD. I tend to agree but I don't think that it hinders the game. It's just disappointing for us long timers who expected a bit more for the series' final game. Also because the game engine is timing based eventually you will master it and win every grapple you attempt. There are 10 difficulty levels and various speeds to play on so that extends its life a bit more. The Edit mode allows you to alter your own edit wrestler's many stats and even CPU logic, which lends itself to much creativity. You can actually program your edit wrestler to mimic it's real life counterpart.In other words you tell your edit wrestler how to wrestle. Very cool. Another notch in the replay value belt. There are many other things I am not mentioning, but you should discover those for yourself.
Because this game is an import you must buy either a fliptop or have a modchip installed to play it. It does raise the price tag quite a bit but if you love wrestling games it is very much worth it.
Why does a game seemingly so great only get a 7?
Because no wrestling game so far has reached my expectations. Perhaps those expectations are too high, but they will be met someday. This game is on the right track. Highly recommended.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/04
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