|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: Sept. 11, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
It's no secret that I'm not huge into sports games in general. However, I love games that try to take a sport and make them insanely entertaining with over the top characters, zany objectives in the matches, and wacky power-ups. Those are the games that I can play and really sink my teeth into. Unfortunately, more often than not, many developers do not see past the convention to spark a different kind of life into the sport games, and they suffer. Even more than recycling the conventional methods, when a game all but copies another title, people are going to notice, and then there will be problems on a completely new level. Especially when this "update" is done poorly or with less than admirable results, gamers notice and the title is soon shuttled to the bargain bin. So is Fatal Inertia on the fast track to the clearance pile or is it worth the time and effort? Read on and you decide.
The reasoning behind the machine on machine action that we are given is simple: wealthy people needed another form of entertainment. To broaden a little on that statement, these wealthy individuals hired several drivers, put them into sweet tricked out vehicles, and made them race. Ok yes, I know that it sounds a lot like your favorite NASCAR ticket, but the racers don't drive around on your basic hovercrafts. When you take a game and set it in the future, this is one of the advantages: the vehicles used are usually hovercrafts of some sort. Even the irrational feasibility of the game is easy to swallow once you think back to the Roman Gladiator days. It may not be as cool, but you get the idea.
There are a few things I'd like to get out of the way before further diving into the game. Fatal Inertia is an entertaining game, if you can avoid a few of the problems that I am about to describe. The controls cause the majority of problems a lot of people will run into. Maybe it is because of the vehicles being hovercrafts that go really fast; I don't know. However, the controls could honestly make a sea captain sick to his stomach. While the camera does its best to keep track of the vehicle you pilot, there is just way too much free form camera play. When you screw up and get lodged into a unique spot on the track, the camera will often spend a good deal swishing and swaying to find you. This is nothing new, but when you have a vehicle that with the slightest nudge can decimate any amount of skill you have, the camera plays a key part.
The camera controls were not the only bad thing about the game. Most of the track designs were a let down. While it may look cool to have rocky caverns and random geographical landmarks appear on the track, they become more of a nuisance for you to overcome. I like a little challenge when it comes to my racing games, and instead of just a giant oval or a convoluted zigzag track, Fatal Inertia does a really good job at giving you a little diversity to keep you on your toes. To further improve upon the diversity of the tracks themselves, you can race several different variations so that you don't get exhausted of one particular way to play. Couple the track variations with the different game modes you can chose from including cooperative, competitive, and season play, and Fatal Inertia packs in the variety to keep you playing long past the point you should have stopped.
Again this is all very disappointing. In large part due to the exceptional girth of the game, it is very upsetting to know it potentially will lose people way before the first race is finished. Since this is the first racing game of this type for the next gen, it is also disappointing graphically. I have made the comment before that next gen is nothing more than lighting effects and a few glossy maps. Well, now I have to say that now I am wrong. If I were right, then KOEI would have had to done something like that with Fatal Inertia, right? Well, they did not, and while the graphics are not stellar, they are not awe-inspiring either. This is mostly due to a few inconsistent framerate issues, texture-mapping difficulties, and, of course, the sea sick captain camera.