AEW: Fight Forever | TGS 2022 Impressions - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!

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Saturday, September 17, 2022

AEW: Fight Forever | TGS 2022 Impressions

Most wrestling games over the past two decades have gone away from what makes the sport fun. Focusing on complex controls and flashy graphics, many have lost sight of what makes “sports entertainment” exciting as a video game. Although there have been some exceptions over the years from smaller and larger publishers alike (shout out to Wrestling Empire!), I’ve been waiting for a game featuring actual wresters AND something akin to the amazing grappling system found in the N64 THQ WCW and WWF titles for a long time. While the WWE is content in releasing games that barely run, AEW has taken a different approach and is looking to bring back that same magic with AEW: Fight Forever. THQ Nordic Japan brought the game to TGS 2022 and I had a chance to check it out on the show floor. Let’s get into it. 

Note on Booth & Demo
THQ Nordic went all out with the AEW booth at TGS this year. A full wrestling ring and actual matches took place over the course of the show. Not only that, but attendees were also able to go into the entrance tunnel and THE RING as part of the experience. Despite being an on and off wrestling fan over the years, I’ve never, not once, in my life stepped foot inside the squared circle. Well, TGS 2022 changed all of that. I’m almost 40 years old, but I was having a blast just with that aspect. I was trying to channel an early 90s Shawn Michaels and obviously looked like a dweeb doing so, but still, it was super fun! You'll have to check out the video version of this review to see me making a fool of myself. Otherwise, you can see me with the ring ladies in a snapshot below. 
In terms of the game, THQ had eight demo units in their booth all running PC builds of Fight Forever. This appears to be almost identical to the demo that they brought to Gamescom over the summer with the only exception being the addition of Japanese. On the business day that I visited the booth, things were very subdued and not many people were visiting. That made it easy for me to try out the demo three times throughout the day. 

Gameplay
Fans of the old school AKI/THQ wrestling games on the N64 will find the controls in Fight Forever familiar. The grapple system is back and it feels pretty good. Like I mentioned above, the build on the show floor was running off of PCs and using Xbox controllers. The grappling was handled with the A button, X was punch, Y was kick and B was run. Holding these buttons (sans run) will perform stronger attacks or grapples. Entering the ring, exiting the ring and climbing the turnbuckle are assigned to the left trigger. Guard, pins and grapple reversals are handled with the left bumper. The right trigger performs an Irish Whip and the right stick can initiate taunts. While it did take a little bit of time to get used to, I was able to tear up my opponents in no time. Wrestling was fast and fluid, and most importantly, fun. 
The demo had the following playable wrestlers (only available in single player vs the CPU): 
  • Adam Cole
  • Kenny Omega
  • CM Punk
  • Paul Wright
  • Thunder Rosa
  • Hikaru Shida
I could notice some slight difference between the characters. For example, with Paul Wright being huge, it was difficult to even make the guy budge early on in the match with light strikes. Of course, given the size of Wright, it was impossible for me as CM Punk to pick him up for a slam without enough momentum on my side. Context sensitive moves, like getting a wrestler tied up in the ropes to throwing them into the steel post on the outside of the ring - these kind of things are all here. Additionally, characters like Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida were quite a bit more agile, while Adam Cole seemed like more of an all around-er. These kind of things are probably expected, but it’s nice to see them in this build and see that the game appears to be on the right track.
One very small thing I noticed that I was a little disappointed by was the lack of COMPLETE wrestler entrances all the way into the ring. I know, I know. it’s not a big deal, but that was one of my only gripes with an otherwise awesome game, WWF No Merch on the Nintendo 64. It could have just been the arena that was selected, too. I checked out coverage from the Gamescom build of the game and they appeared there. At any rate, having this in the game only adds to the authenticity of the final product.

Visuals & Performance
Fight Forever’s visuals match its arcade-like feel. While the wrestlers do look fairly realistic, they do sport a bit of a more cartoon-y look. Honestly, I think it looks great and doing this will more than likely make it easier to retain the visual style when scaling down the game to less powerful hardware (like the Switch). There were a few issues with collision detection and clipping, but it didn’t take away from the gameplay in the slightest. Fight Forever ran smoothly here, too, which was the most important part. 

Final Thoughts
AEW: Fight Forever is still a work in progress, but I like what I played on the TGS show floor. The action is fast and fluid, the visuals are great and the game was just fun. The final game is promising a multitude of modes including a career mode, tons of customization and match types, online co-op and more. The game is coming to the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series systems, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. 

But let’s turn things over to you guys. Are you looking forward to AEW: Fight Forever? What platform are you planning to pick it up for? What’s your favorite wrestling game of all time? Sound off in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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