Adding to the rich history of wrestling video games, YUKE’s Co. Ltd.’s All Elite Wrestling (AEW): Fight Forever arrived with an enticing premise. The promise of a blend of nostalgia-infused arcade wrestling, All Elite Wrestling finishers, and an all-star roster tugged at the heartstrings of fans worldwide. Regrettably, the game delivered a lackluster performance that failed to meet the elevated expectations sparked by its ambitious claims.
Terrible Pin System
The pin system, central to the gameplay, is arguably the most prominent area where the game disappoints. The random nature of the pins irks players who value skill-based gameplay and strategic maneuvers. Instead, luck-based gameplay plagues the experience, diluting the player’s sense of achievement and rewarding randomness over skill. When measured against classics like WWE 2K14, which skillfully blended unpredictability with controlled tactics, AEW: Fight Forever’s pin system appears disappointingly archaic.
Moreover, the controls designed to guide this high-action gameplay prove to be more of a hindrance than a help. Unresponsive at times and poorly coordinated, the controls take away from the fluidity and dynamics that games in this genre are celebrated for. The subpar control system stands in stark contrast to successful franchises like WWE, where seamless controls have always been inherent to the gameplay experience.
Lack of Game Modes
Another downer is the lack of variety in offline game modes. Even though other wrestling games such as the WWE titles consistently offer 2-4 offline game modes for varied experiences, AEW: Fight Forever offers a solitary offline mode. This drastically limits the avenues of exploration for the players, pushing them towards repetitive gameplay.
The game’s career mode, typically the cornerstone of any sports game for people who play offline, also proves to be an underwhelming journey. Instead of an immersive narrative focusing on the player’s protagonist, the game sporadically takes detours into AEW’s history, distracting from the central plot. Coupled with boring storylines and barely any voice acting, the career mode seems a far cry from the immersive experiences that its contemporary counterparts provide.
AEW: Fight Forever does manage to hit high notes with its successful recreation of the classic arcade wrestling feel and the incorporation of a stellar, diverse wrestling roster. However, these commendable features fail to cover up the game’s outdated presentation, a veritable letdown for a 2023 release.
Despite its variety of matches and an impressive lineup of renowned and upcoming AEW stars, AEW: Fight Forever fails to impress when placed in the competitive wrestling game landscape. When pitted against heavyweights such as WWE 2K23 and even WWE All-Stars from 2011 which it drew inspiration from, the game’s luck-based mechanics, flawed controls, and uninspiring single-player experiences make it fall short.
Failure to Deliver
In AEW: Fight Forever, the game’s career mode is known as “Road to Elite,” offering players the exhilarating opportunity to step into the shoes of any wrestler they choose. Unfortunately, the game’s potential ends up being overshadowed by its pitfalls. Personally, the game did not resonate with me due to its awkward controls. Although it’s evident that the game drew inspiration from renowned classics such as WWE No Mercy and WWE All Stars, it unfortunately seems to have inherited the clunky controls characteristic of the era these inspirations came from, rather than evolving with the advances in modern gaming technology. Nevertheless, the game’s thoughtful feature includes an option for players to toggle blood effects on and off, reflecting a sensitivity to varying gamer preferences.
The verdict is clear: AEW: Fight Forever is simply not on par with its competitors in the gaming world. Despite having the potential ingredients to become a fan-favourite, the game is trounced by both current titles and those from previous years. The wrestling gaming community can only hope that attention will be given to these glaring issues in future updates, realigning AEW: Fight Forever to fulfil its initial promise. Until then, fans may find more satisfaction dusting off their old consoles and revisiting games from the past.
In conclusion, AEW: Fight Forever feels like a missed opportunity. While the nods to the era of nostalgic arcade wrestling and the inclusion of high-caliber All Elite Wrestling stars provide flashes of brilliance but it does not quite make up for its shortcomings. The random pin mechanism, lackluster controls, limited offline gameplay options, uninspiring career mode, and dated presentation all contribute to a gaming experience that is unfortunately more disappointing than rewarding. Wrestling and gaming fans alike can only hope that future updates will rectify these flaws and finally deliver on the promise of bringing the best of AEW action to our gaming consoles in a truly splendid fashion.
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