AEW Fight Forever is the No Mercy successor I've always wanted
As with many of you, I grew up with a PlayStation. That adorable little grey box was my first window into gaming, and I loved it, taking it everywhere I went and gradually amassing a collection of games I probably traded in for about a tenner in years gone by.
Why No Mercy?
Perhaps it was the fact that it was tantalisingly out of reach that made me want it more, but No Mercy was the pinnacle of wrestling video games to me.
Its visuals were arguably not quite as good as Smackdown on the PlayStation, with its weirdly square character models, but it was full of possibilities.
From the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master grappling system, to flicking the C-stick to pull off a signature move, AKI's classic has an 89-rating on Metacritic for a reason.
Add to that a huge roster from one of wrestling's finest eras, the Attitude Era, and it's perhaps no surprise the entry has remained undefeated (although Here Comes The Pain on PS2 was very close).
AEW Fight Forever is the No Mercy successor I've always wanted isn't in that same stratosphere, but there's something about it that keeps me piledriving opponents onto the canvas each evening - perhaps unsurprising given No Mercy’s director Hideyuki Iwashita is involved.
Character models are almost toyetic, looking like action figures that have come to life, Small Soldiers style, and entrances are just a few seconds long - a far cry from the pageantry of 2K's recent (also very enjoyable) efforts.
The grappling system is nice and intuitive, too, and while I've not quite got the timing down between strike and grapple reversals, I'm having a blast watching the excellent animations unfold.
I'm very pleased to say that you can flick the stick to taunt before pulling off a finisher. It's the closest I've come to a No Mercy successor since Def Jam Vendetta.
No guts, no glory
WWE All-Stars definitely did its best to arrive at the same destination, but there's something about the lack of glitz and glam here, with fewer pyro effects and smaller arenas, that makes AEW Fight Forever a real treat.
Still, AEW goes beyond its clear inspiration with some fantastic additions. The inclusion of more dastardly match types such as barbed wire matches, a skateboard to ride around the ring on, or just a good old-fashioned bag of thumbtacks makes AEW Fight Forever much more brutal than other more arcadey 'wrasslers' have been.
AEW Fight Forever isn't the most fully-formed wrestling game released this year, but it's one I'm having an absolute blast with.