Fatal Inertia [360]

by

Review by Milesh Bhana

I’ve always loved futuristic racing games. Invariably, they always have these funked out hovercraft-type things armed to the teeth with destructive weapons. The aim is to win the race by playing dirty. For the past decade, Wipeout has pretty much been the game to play if this is your cuppa tea (or F-Zero for the Nintendo fans).

Last year, a new game decided to take on Wipeout with a few interesting twists on this type of game. The biggest difference between exiting games like this and Fatal Inertia is that the weapons in existing game rely more on destruction while Fatal Inertia relies on using physics to throw your enemies off course.

I’ll have to give Fatal Inertia top marks for its creative arsenal of weapons. The most basic weapons rely on magnets. The magnets will attach to the wing of a craft disrupting the handling slightly. If not removed quickly, the magnet will explode doing a little damage to the craft. Often you’ll have a few magnets at your disposal so you can really mess your opponent around. If you’ve been hit with a magnet, doing a barrel roll will throw them off. If you time this maneuver correctly you’ll actually throw them onto a passing opponent.

All weapons have 2 firing modes, with the magnet weapons one is for firing to the rear, one for firing forward. With rocket type weapons, the rear fire actually attaches the rocket to your own craft giving you a nice boost.

There is also an EMP which will disrupt all opponents in front of you for a few seconds, a time dilator which will slow down time for all opponents.

The most interesting weapon is the grappling hook. It has a few uses; you can attach an opponent to the ground, tie two opponents together or if you’re really accurate with it, attach one end to the ground and slingshot around a corner.

Fatal Inertia looks really good (and it should seeing that it’s running on Unreal Engine 3) There are 5 environments; a frozen wasteland, a swampy forest, a canyon run, an island paradise and a volcanically active area. There are 10 tracks going through each of these environments giving you 50 in total. Each environment looks really good, especially the island one with some nice looking water effects. They all have a few varied weather conditions to give it a unique feel. (Paradise Island at sunset looks breathtaking)

There are a few race types to choose from. Combat Race is a race to win at all costs mode which is pretty much the staple for this type of game. Weapons are usually acquired by flying over pods which will randomly give you a weapon. Magnet Madness is the most interesting as you’re always equipped with magnets and there are no pickups. It’s much more combat intensive and things get a little crazy.

Unfortunately, the crafts themselves don’t handle too well and with the higher speed ones you’ll find yourself hitting the walls more often than not. The track design starts out simplistic but with later levels I found navigating around the track to be a little more difficult than it should have been. Fortunately, there’s a reset button which doesn’t cost you too much in terms of lost time.

As the game progresses you’ll unlock a few newer crafts and a few parts allowing a small amount of customization on the handling as well as a few basic aesthetic options. Doing really well in the tournaments

Starting out, I must say that I really enjoyed the game, but as the more difficult levels unlocked, navigating the tracks became near impossible and could only be done by playing it multiple times and memorizing every corner and shortcut. Also, there are gates scattered around the track that you must fly though. If you miss one you have to turn back and the crafts usually don’t have an easy way to turn around, so missing one of these gates is really costly.

The opponent AI is brutal and they know the tracks really well and will navigate them perfectly and make good use of their weapons. Getting a lead doesn’t last very long as they remain hot on your heels and will gun you down. Now I don’t mind a little bit of a challenge, but I found that the poor handling of the crafts and bad track design really made things a little unfair.

Verdict: 2 stars
Games like this really annoy me. Not because they aren’t good, but more because they really could have been. The first few levels were loads of fun and it’s a pity that the gameplay flaws became so glaring in the later parts of the game. If you’re a PS3 owner, you’re better off picking up Wipeout HD. If you’re an XBOX owner and you’ve really been craving a game like this, then it’s still worth playing, but if I were you, I’d rather rent it.

Release Date: 11 September 2007

Zaps – R299
Take 2 – R245
Approx 2nd hand price on xbox-360.co.za – R200

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