Fatal Inertia is a futuristic racing game developed by Koei – a Japanese developer and publisher with titles such as Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and the interesting Gitaroo Man under its belt. The game is set far in the future in a time where extreme sports are one of the main sources of entertainment. Unfortunately the sports have gotten too dangerous in the cities so races are now held in many different baron wastelands.
The game throws you right in the deep end just with a brief explanation of the story line. The controls are not explained well at all so it will take a few races to get used to those. First impressions are fairly good as the graphics are not bad at all. Most of the environments look great but it isn’t all good news as there are some bad textures in amongst the good and the vehicles are not as detailed as they perhaps should be but of course, this could have all been forgiven if the game played well... but you guess it, it doesn’t... at all.
What really lets Fatal Inertia down is the absolutely terrible level design – it feels like an unfinished game and I honestly can’t see how this managed to get released. The courses have very poor directions, boundaries hardly exist and what makes it even more infuriating is that you have to pass through a set of rings too and until you have done this your position in the race will decline. This will often mean that due to the abysmal collisions you will go just wide or over ring and have to turn around only to go back through it again – totally pointless. There is a reset button to attempt to get your vehicle back on to the track. This would be great if it wasn’t so buggy - most of the time it will put you in the most awkward place or sometimes not even on the track at all. The directions in which the game points you in are so vague that you have to play the track 3 or 4 times just to find out all the corners and then you have the other battle of actually trying to win as the computer players have much better vehicles from the start. In addition to the above there are also some sections of tracks which are pitch black, you can see light at the end of the tunnel so navigating to the end wouldn’t be so hard but alas Koei have found a way to make it infuriating by adding some random pillars in the way – how kind. Collisions are also another thing that Koei have failed to do well. When hitting the side, other cars or any dodgy parts of the landscape you are rarely thrown into the logical direction and usually end up in a bad situation that is near impossible to get out of.
What makes the extremely poor level design worse is the handling of the vehicles. The handling does get better as you progress but it takes a tonne of patience to progress as the game is so frustrating. The learning curve is far too high when it really doesn’t have to be – after the first championship which is manageable the difficulty just gets ridiculous and you will find yourself doing the same tournaments over and over again which really isn’t fun at all.
It really is a shame that Fatal Inertia turned out so bad as the game had a lot of potential and could have possibly rivalled games such as WipeOut, but this is not the case at all. There are weapons in the game in order to help you to get passed your enemies but these are not explained at all so it takes a lot of guess work in the first few championships to get to grips with what they do, once you have done that you will notice that the weapons are pretty useless and don’t really help much at all which in turn adds to the ever growing frustration with the poor game.
Fatal Inertia does have an online multi player but there are not many players online at all and I can only see the number declining rapidly. The modes are all what you would expect from a racing game and there generally isn’t a huge amount of lag when playing but this doesn’t make the game any better and is certainly not a reason to purchase it.
This is the worst 360 game I have played yet. The graphics aren’t bad but a dodgy frame rate along with terrible level design, handling and collisions makes Fatal Inertia barely playable. The simple fact is that there are many decent racing games on the 360 – don’t even consider purchasing or even renting this one. Save your money and buy something decent that doesn’t feel totally unfinished. A total disappointment.
Originally Written By: Joe