AEW: Fight Forever Review — Up-and-Coming Contender

by David Sanchez July 19, 2023 @ 12:11 pm

AEW: Fight Forever - All Elite Wrestling

Reviewed on Xbox Series X|S

All Elite Wrestling has often been considered an alternative to WWE. The company, founded in 2019, provided something fresh and different from what WWE was doing. It gave professional wrestling fans something else to look forward to and enjoy. And for those fans who had become disenfranchised with WWE, AEW was the perfect alternative option.

Just like WWE dominated the world of pro wrestling for so long, the WWE 2K series dominated the world of pro wrestling games for a long time. Now, though, AEW has put out yet another alternative option — AEW: Fight Forever, a video game that takes inspiration from old school grappling titles like WWF No Mercy and WWE Day of Reckoning while offering some modern refinements. It doesn’t land all of its strikes, but the foundations are solid, and this could be the start of something awesome.

A New Wrestling Game That Honors the Classics

AEW: Fight Forever - Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho

AEW has always been about putting the wrestling action first, sometimes at the expense of storylines. There’s some good and some bad with that, but there’s no denying that the promotion’s brand of professional wrestling is some of the best you’ll see on TV. AEW: Fight Forever takes a similar approach: The game strips back a lot of the bells and whistles, as well as the fluffed up mechanics you’d see in today’s WWE 2K games, and goes for more straightforward action.

AEW: Fight Forever was touted as a throwback to the glory days of Nintendo 64 wrestling games, and that influence is definitely there. For my money, though, I’d compare the game more to WWE Day of Reckoning on GameCube as it utilizes a similar grappling and counter system and just feels more like a successor to that game.

You’ve got weak and strong grapples. You can use quick strikes as well as charged up strong strikes. You can dive off the turnbuckle and perform running hits and grapples. It all works just like you’d expect it to, though there is a bit of a rough edge that’s noticeable at times. Thankfully, that’s nothing that ever breaks the game. AEW: Fight Forever is a scrappy game, but what it lacks in overall polish it makes up for with sheer pick-up-and-play fun.

AEW: Fight Forever Women's Match Gameplay

As you perform attacks and taunts, you’ll build up a moment meter. Once full, you can perform a signature move. Taunting when the meter is full also grants you a finishing maneuver. Depending on the wrestler, this can be a front or rear grapple, a running move, a dive, or a submission.

If you’re looking for a fun wrestling game, AEW: Fight Forever is exactly that. It has a few different singles and multi-person match options. You’ll be able to play tag matches, elimination battle royales, falls count anywhere matches, ladder matches, and even the infamous exploding barbed wire deathmatch. That last one is especially entertaining and hectic as you’ll not only battle your opponent, but also a timer. Once the time expires, the ring will explode, with both wrestlers taking damage — though the wrestler closest to the ropes will feel the effects the most.

Almost There in Terms of Content

AEW: Fight Forever Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch Gameplay

For as fun as AEW: Fight Forever is, the game is a bit light on content. You’ll have fun playing the available match types as your favorite wrestlers, and you can even go online and play against others. Connectivity is, thankfully, solid for the most part, and I only ever encountered match-making lag occasionally. Once in a match, though, it was smooth sailing.

Unfortunately, the single player career mode is a little lackluster. You’ll take a created wrestler (or one that’s already part of the roster) through the ranks and attempt to make a name for that individual in AEW. It’s an okay mode, and there’s some enjoyment to be found there, but it’s over pretty quickly and just feels like it could’ve been more.

The create-a-wrestler options are quite underwhelming and limited. Yes, you’ll be able to create wrestlers that are missing from the roster or that are currently signed to other promotions, but with so few aesthetic options, they’re not going to look great. It’s a bummer, because if you want to get really wild and create, say, Wario from the Super Mario universe, you’re kind of out of luck. I use that specific example because I’ve been able to create him in other games but simply didn’t have the means to do so here in terms of wardrobe and facial features.

Mid-Card Presentation, but It Works

AEW: Fight Forever Casino Battle Royale Gameplay

Visually, AEW: Fight Forever is in line with its mechanics — it looks a little dated, but it still looks fine. Some wrestlers look better than others, but they do have this bulky, almost-cartoon-like appearance to them. It’s not outrageous or unrealistic, but it’s not a clean presentation, either. On the plus side, animations look great, with moves mirroring what they look like on TV for the most part. You’ll notice some visual glitches here and there, but those are evident in most wrestling games, and it seems like something we probably won’t get away from anytime soon, if ever.

The audio design of AEW: Fight Forever works well enough. Commentary is, well, it could use some work, but it’s okay. In addition, you’ll notice that some of your favorite wrestlers’ entrance music is either outdated or just completely stock as opposed to what you actually hear on AEW programming. That’s a bummer, especially since some bangers were omitted, likely due to both time constraints and licensing issues.

Speaking of wrestlers’ entrances, these are cut short and are kind of disappointing to watch. You won’t see CM Punk, Kenny Omega, or Kris Statlander make their way to the ring and perform all of their signature poses. Instead, we get a shot of them coming out to the ramp, and that’s it. This was the case in WWF No Mercy, and it was a bummer then just like it is now. Obviously, this isn’t a huge deal, but complete entrances would’ve been great to see.

Competition or an Alternative?

AEW: Fight Forever Gameplay

Just like there’s always been a debate about whether AEW is competition or an alternative to WWE, the same debate can be had about AEW: Fight Forever versus WWE 2K. You’ll either see it as competition to the series that’s held a vice grip on wrestling games for so long, or you’ll see it as an alternative to what’s been considered the norm. Or, on the flipside of that, you could see it as more of a good thing, because it’s always great to have options.

AEW: Fight Forever isn’t quite worthy of the main event just yet. But it’s a solid contender for the mid-card title. It’s a good throwback, and though it lacks polish, it’s a great deal of fun. Perhaps with some fine-tuning and updates, the next installment will be ready to headline with the World Championship on the line.

Score: 7 out of 10

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