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AEW: Fight Forever Triumphs as a Stellar Fusion of No Mercy and SmackDown

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aew fight forever

When All Elite Wrestling debuted in 2019, wrestling enthusiasts were thrilled to witness the arrival of a new promotion, injecting much-needed freshness into the stagnant realm of professional wrestling in the United States. A similar sentiment echoed within the realm of wrestling video games, as the announcement of AEW: Fight Forever kindled hopes that a novel addition to the genre would bring forth innovative elements.

For those who grew up engrossed in wrestling games, a distinct and nostalgic fondness is held for what are often hailed as the greatest wrestling games ever created—the endearingly dubbed AKI games. This term encompasses a collection of titles crafted by the former AKI Corporation, such as Virtual Pro Wrestling, WCW vs nWo: World Tour, and the widely recognized WWF No Mercy.

Delightfully, we can affirm that the collaboration between AEW and seasoned developers Yuke’s has successfully captured the essence of No Mercy-style gameplay blended with the mechanics of SmackDown!. AEW: Fight Forever exudes an unmistakable familiarity that is bound to please fans of the classic wrestling titles.

Immersive and Authentic Gameplay

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AEW: Fight Forever delivers a remarkably tight and fluid experience, boasting an impressive array of moves and their execution, reminiscent of the beloved No Mercy. Throughout our gameplay sessions, we consistently marveled at the meticulous attention to detail in crafting the flow of matches.

The wrestling mechanics truly shine, thanks to the incorporation of features such as chain wrestling, daring dives from the guardrail, maneuvers executed on the apron, exhilarating topés to the outside, and even the ability to suplex adversaries through barricades. Additionally, the game allows for midair interceptions during dives or when opponents ascend the ropes, all executed with a snappy and seamless feel, complemented by animations that rarely appear awkward.

When triggering your finisher, wrestlers naturally position themselves with a sense of realism, while reversals remain largely balanced and smooth, avoiding the excesses or cartoonishness found in some wrestling games of the past. This commitment to realism enhances the organic nature of matches as they unfold, providing a more authentic experience overall.

aew fight forever

The game is brimming with meticulous details that wrestling enthusiasts will undoubtedly appreciate. To illustrate this, even Orange Cassidy has his own unique stance, where he wrestles with his hands casually tucked into his pockets at the mere press of a button.

Upon its launch, AEW: Fight Forever offers an assortment of match types, including singles matches such as Lights Out and Falls Count Anywhere, tag team matches, three- and four-way matches, exhilarating ladder matches, and the thrilling 21-person Casino Battle Royale.

Notably, the infamous Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match is included and serves as a standout feature. It’s an exhilarating experience to hurl your opponent into the barbed-wire ropes amidst explosive chaos engulfing the ring. However, it is regrettable that leaving the ring isn’t possible in this match type, as it would have been intriguing to utilize the barbed-wire boards surrounding the squared circle.

aew fight forever

Engaging Career Mode: Road to Elite

The game features a captivating story mode called “Road to Elite,” which serves as a career mode where you embark on a journey with a wrestler of your creation or an existing AEW star throughout a full calendar year in the company. The year is divided into four blocks, each leading up to a major pay-per-view event, including All Out, Full Gear, Revolution, and Double or Nothing.

Within each block, you’ll undertake one of three scenarios, essentially storylines that unfold as you tour different locations across North America. During your travels, you can engage in various activities such as visiting the gym, exploring landmarks, participating in press conferences or meet and greets, and even taking on lesser opponents on AEW Dark. Each task affects your energy levels and momentum, creating a mild balancing act that provides initial enjoyment, but may become repetitive after multiple playthroughs.

Throughout your journey, you’ll encounter wrestlers in delightfully cheesy Yakuza-style cutscenes, reminiscent of classic wrestling games. While the dialogue may not be stellar, there is a certain charm to interacting with wrestlers and catching references to the wrestling industry.

Overall, the story mode offers an engaging experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the world of AEW and navigate the challenges and triumphs of a professional wrestling career.

aew fight forever

Regrettably, the main storylines lack wrestler-specific curation, resulting in repeated scenarios during multiple playthroughs. While the inclusion of multiple choice prompts aims to provide the illusion of decision-making and diverse outcomes, they often lead to similar results and do not significantly impact your career trajectory.

Although we were initially delighted to discover a distinct storyline for the AEW Women’s Championship, it was disheartening to observe other scenarios that disregarded its existence, as if it never occurred. In fact, there appears to be a lack of continuity between each block, with isolated storylines for each PPV buildup that disregard any prior progress made.

After playing through Road to Elite multiple times with different wrestlers, it became apparent that wins and losses hold little significance. Surprisingly, even intentionally losing every match did not hinder our progression, as we still found ourselves competing for the AEW World Championship in the final block. This lack of consequence for match outcomes was disappointing, as it rendered the scenario repetitive regardless of performance. We yearn for a system where our choices and in-ring achievements genuinely impact the trajectory of our career.

The primary incentive for engaging in Road to Elite lies in enhancing your created wrestlers. This involves improving their stats and equipping them with traits and skills.

The traits, referred to as Action Skills, play a significant role in gameplay, as they dictate the abilities and maneuvers you can execute during matches. For instance, the Gimmick Infringement skill enables you to steal your opponent’s finisher, while the Guardrail Dive Offense skill grants you the ability to perform daring dives off railings. These traits add depth and variation to your in-ring capabilities, offering a unique gameplay experience for each character.

Limited Customization Options

aew fight forever Customization Options

Create-a-wrestler has long been a cherished feature in wrestling games, contributing significantly to player engagement. Unfortunately, AEW: Fight Forever falls short in terms of customization options, offering limited presets and lacking the ability to fine-tune specific facial features or attire textures.

It’s evident that resources have been allocated to other aspects, which is regrettable considering the game excels in other areas of creation. The extensive move list for both single wrestlers and tag teams is truly impressive, accompanied by a vast library of entrance music. Additionally, there are animations tied to WWE, NJPW, and AEW stars who didn’t make it into the final game roster.

During our playthrough, we took delight in creating Speedball Mike Bailey and Kota Ibushi, and we were thrilled to discover that Justin Roberts had recorded announcer audio specifically for their entrances, adding an extra layer of authenticity. The game also includes arena creation, although it is relatively basic, as well as the ability to edit entrances, movesets, and even create and modify tag teams.

One of the joys of games like No Mercy was the ability to customize the attire of existing roster members, allowing players to change gear colors or select entirely new attires. In contrast, AEW: Fight Forever only provides a couple of alternate attires for Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, and Britt Baker. Unfortunately, the game lacks the option to modify existing colors and limits customization options to adding random t-shirts, which can feel rather underwhelming and redundant.

Solid Foundation

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While AEW: Fight Forever delivers exceptional wrestling gameplay that surpasses many recent titles, certain gameplay features are noticeably absent compared to older games from the same development team. The lack of crawling or rope grabbing in submissions, the restriction of four players on screen, the absence of referee bumps or interactions, and the absence of backstage fighting areas may leave players yearning for more. Additionally, some roster members are missing, highlighting the need for timely updates and additions.

Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that AEW: Fight Forever was built from scratch, serving as a fresh start and laying the groundwork for future developments. The game serves as a solid foundation, successfully incorporating the essence of classic wrestling games like No Mercy, SmackDown!, and Day of Reckoning. It caters to both newcomers who can easily pick up and play, as well as long-time or lapsed wrestling fans who will appreciate the nostalgic elements.

It is evident that a considerable amount of care and effort went into making AEW: Fight Forever enjoyable and satisfying to play. While certain areas related to story, features, and customization may fall short, there is still much to appreciate for AEW enthusiasts. We wholeheartedly recommend the game, as it provides an alternative in the wrestling game space, much like All Elite Wrestling offers an alternative to WWE.

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