|System: PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Koei Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Koei||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Preview by Patrick||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Patrick Evans
August 29, 2006 - From F-Zero to WipeOut and Podracing, futuristic racers have held their own place in the gaming world parallel to the "real world" racing games out there. These games take you to a world of speed and danger that makes NASCAR look like an empty parking lot. The next-gen looks a little light on titles such as these, except for the PS3 launch title Fatal Inertia, which promises to bring that "next-gen" world of advanced physics and visuals to turn the racing genre on its head.
Fatal Inertia is going to give us the "wheel-less" racing that we are familiar with, but is getting rid of the traditional tracks as we know them. Instead, each race will take place in an open environment with checkpoints arranged to make up a track. Man-made barriers as walls are obsolete. Buzzing around a rock-face will obviously shape a path for the race, but where there aren't obsticals like that present, racers are free to use the open space to make passes on opponents or try to shave seconds off their time. The only restriction of the course is that you must pass through those checkpoints in order.
Just like all the combat-racers before it, Fatal Inertia will feature weapons that help you plunk the enemy before they pull away too far from the pack. What separates the weapons here from the rest is that, instead of just draining a shield meter or a hull meter, the damage they inflict will register with the physics engine in-game. Some weapons will even make your ride heavier, causing your handling to suffer. Players can use the environment as a weapon as well, blasting chunks of a canyon wall to slow those behind you or to close off a shortcut as you pass through it. As inertia is in the title, you can expect physics to play a huge part in the gameplay experience, leaving the player that ignores their highschool physics splattered against a rock face instead of finishing the race like the rest of the pack.
All of the craft used for racing fall into one of four classes. The Phoenix Class sports well-rounded craft that offer a little bit more top speed in exchange of handling. Mercury Class craft, on the other hand, turn quicker and handle with more stability at the price of a lower top speed. For those that want the maximum top speed, they may want to try ships from the Titan or Aurora Class. Aurora Class ships lose a little acceleration in exchange for a higher top end speed. Titans are in a similar situation, but they also have the largest payload capacity of all the classes, making them dangerous in the middle of a pack. Every ship can be fully customized with an extensive selection of performance and visual parts as well as paint jobs. After making any ride yours, you can take them online and take on your buddies in a number of multiplayer modes, though exactly what will be available has yet to be seen.
Fatal Inertia is the debut title of Koei's new Toronto-based development studio. Progress of the game since E3 should see an improvement in a shaky frame rate. If the developers can instill a sense of speed reminiscent of the most recent F-Zero coupled with their advanced physics engine, Koei may have a very successful title on their hands. After all, if they can make slamming your buddy's ship into a tree half as fun as it sounds, they would have me without mentioning anything else.
CCC Former Staff Writer