Developers Spike Chunsoft returned to the wrestling gaming realm with the release of Fire Pro Wrestling World on Windows PC last year, with a five-month early access period concluding in December. Now, ten months later, the cult series is available globally on PS4, having hit European shelves on 28 September, one month after the American roll-out.
It's the cult series' first instalment since Fire Pro Wrestling was released as an Xbox 360 exclusive in 2012. That particular game was a muddled, disjointed mess, but this one? A different beast entire, harking back to the deep gameplay, customisation, and retro aesthetics the franchise is known for, while pushing things forward with a brand new career mode and a shiny New Japan Pro Wrestling license.
Released one-and-a-half weeks before WWE 2K19, comparisons between FPWW and 2K's market-leading blockbuster are inevitable. These are two completely different beasts, though. They aren't trying to scratch the same itch, and although the glossy, big-budget WWE game will no doubt satiate those looking for a straightforward experience carried by added-value features, FPWW's in-depth, hardcore approach provides a true alternative.
But where does the game prosper, and where does it fall short? Let's look at it from a Fire Pro newcomer's perspective...
WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A fan since 1992, still geeking out for everything from WeeLC to mid '80s Jim Crockett Promotions. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.