Pride FC - Fighting Championships
System: Playstation 2
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Anchor
Released: February 2003
Genre: Fighting
Capabilities: Memory Card & Dual Shock2 Vibration Feedback

Review Written: March 7, 2003

Pride FC is the latest mixed martial arts fighting game. Pride is based in Japan, and it is similar to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), but this organization has their bouts in a ring instead of the octagon. THQ hired Anchor as the developers who just happened to develop the first UFC title on the Dreamcast. Their experience is well noticed as Pride is the most polished fighter of the genre.

The roster is made up of 25 of the top fighters from Pride FC such as Don Frye, Wanderlei Silva, and Carlos Newton. Unless you’re a fan of the sport, you will most likely not recognize too many of the fighters featured in Pride, save for ex-UFC and WWF/E star, Ken Shamrock. Each fighter has his own unique discipline fighting style such as kick-boxing, pro-wrestling, and free fight, among others. The fighters share a lot of the same moves, but there are some slick moves that only a handful of characters can perform. For example, only a few fighters can “kip up” where they get up like The Rock does sometimes in his matches in the WWE where he shoots up with his legs. Other fighters can change guard positions in specific situations where others cannot.

The controls are fairly easy to learn. Each of the four face buttons on the PS2 controller      corresponds to one of the fighter’s four limbs. The amount of combos available is plentiful and I was hard pressed to mastering them all. By combing two buttons your fighter will attempt to grab their opponent and get him in one of several positions. This is where things get interesting. There are so many ways you can make your foes submit. With each attempt to grab the foe or put him in a position there is another way to counter it. I was able to reverse a foe on top of me and put him into a submission within mere seconds.

There are other interesting situations that occur. One is where you knock an opponent down but they’re shuffling away from you on their buttocks while they kick away from you so they can try to get up, which you can counter by grabbing a hold of their leg and establish a crippling ankle lock! There are more positions in here than any UFC title on the market, and the submission system also has more depth with the sheer amount of moves and counters readily available.

The main way to play Pride FC is “Grand Prix” mode. It is the equivalent of any King of the Ring tournament modes that are found in most WWE games where up to sixteen Pride fighters (all of which can be controlled by you or the computer AI, or a mix of both) are entered in a one-night elimination tournament. The unique thing about this is the damage you sustain from each round will remain with the fighter as he progresses to the latter rounds. So make sure to plan smart and don’t take your time on the easy opponents in the first few rounds. This is the main way to play Pride, and I have beaten Grand Prix mode in less than fifteen minutes. It is too bad that they couldn’t have included a season mode of some type in here. Imagine starting up as a lowly club fighter and a stroke of luck lands you a contract in the Pride organization. The possibilities are endless. Oh well, there is always the sequel.

At least there are several other modes of play to make up for the lack of a main single player game. There is a survival mode, which is where you keep on facing one computer opponent after another until you lose. Besides encountering friends in the Grand Prix mode, you can also duke it out in “Single Match” mode. Pride FC also contains an excellent training mode which would be perfect if it would have let you view your combo lists during the training. Instead you got to cycle out of the mode and to the biography section instead or constantly reference the manual.

I was surprised to find a create-a-fighter option in the first installment of Pride. It has a decent amount of stuff to edit your fighter with. There are things like tattoos, hair styles, facial hair, and different styles available for you to tweak out your own home brewed character. The amount of clothing options and accessories may not be as versatile as the create-a-wrestler feature found in some wrestling games such as Smackdown on PS2, but what they have to offer gets the job done just fine for this type of game. I was especially fond of the move list editor where you can pick from a plethora of counters, takedowns, and submission holds available to you.

The developers at Anchor did a tremendous job on the graphics showcased in Pride FC. All the character models closely resemble their real life counterparts (well Shamrock looks a tad bit generic but everyone else is mint), and the animation for them is done to absolute perfection! The moves they perform aren’t over exaggerated like in certain other titles, but they perform all their submissions from how you would view them on an actual telecast. Anchor went the extra mile and had the brawlers squint in pain whenever their getting beaten down or in a submission. This looks twice as good in the replays that follow the bouts. I also enjoyed some of the little special effects like the blood splattering on the camera. The presentation is fabulous with entrances so good they match up to some of the current crop of wrestling titles that specialize to them. Not everything is perfect; there are some noticeable collision detection problems where fighters will react to pain from punches that looked like they missed them by a mile!

There is a superb collection of original and licensed tracks featured in Pride. The opening FMV has a mind blowing tune that will simply immerse you into the atmosphere that is Pride FC. Most of the fighters have their licensed music in here that plays during their entrances. The sound effects are right on target, with little things like the mat effects that are pulled off nicely. There is no color commentary, but there are actual English & Japanese ring introductions that are done so good that they’ll make any created fighter (who is simply dubbed “player 1” by the announcer) sound like a contender.

Pride FC has a wealthy amount of bells and whistles available considering it is the first game based on this organization. The inclusion of the create-a-fighter was the most welcomed feature. There are also biographies of all the 25 fighters from Pride, complete with an FMV highlight reel. Yet there could have been so much more included to make this a more rounded package. Pride was just begging for some kind of a career mode that the UFC games have. Some kind of unlock system would have been appreciated too.  


Graphics: 8.8
Sound: 9.2
Game play: 8.3
Replay Value: 7.0

Overall: 8.3

For people looking for a change of pace from the several UFC games out right now, then Pride FC will be perfect for you. While it does have some notable omissions, the smooth game-play experience more than makes up for it. Give Pride FC a couple of sequels and it might take the crown away from the UFC titles in the near future. If this type of fighting games are your thing, than make sure to pick up Pride FC, or give it a rent at the very least.

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