Fatal Inertia Xbox 360 Review
Inertia, by definition, means that an object should remain at constant velocity unless acted upon by an outside force. However, when playing Fatal Inertia that is not always the case, as there is so much going on, with track designs being too busy, that you are almost never given a chance to experience the thrill of exhilarating speed that people crave from the futuristic racer genre. You see, Fatal Inertia is beautiful, there is no doubt about that, but it is almost too good-looking for its own good. There is just so much lush scenery and dense foliage on show that it almost makes journeying around the track feel more of a chore than anything else. Even worse it is all too easy to get lost multiple times, charging head first into walls and wearing down your shield until you finally learn the right way round the unnecessarily complex track.
Tracks that are hard to master are not the only problem though as the game is also home to AI that is gratuitously hard to beat, almost to the point of cheating. In fact, on some of the later tracks in the game one mistake will send you to the back of the pack with little to no chance of working your way back to first place. The game’s soundtrack is also one final point of contention as it is nowhere near fitting with the game’s futuristic setting, as it contains some high tempo, poorly composed tracks that will leave you longing for some trademark F-Zero music, or some memorable WipEout beats. Alas, all of this criticism is rather unfortunate as the rest of the game is not all that bad.
As with almost every other arcadey racer, your goal in Fatal Inertia is a familiar one, to win a race by any means you can. After that you must then win, or place high enough in a set of races to win a league, and once you have won a league then another cup will open up to let you try your hand at a few more tracks and some more difficult opponents. Then, if you are
good patient enough, it is a case of rinse and repeat as you battle your way through all the leagues in the game, and placing as high as you can until you beat all that stands before you. Along with that the game also gives you the opportunity to build your own custom ships as you go, letting you use different parts, mix and match engines, wings, emblems and paint styles until you find something you like.
On your way through all the leagues there are a few different styles of events on show to mix things up a bit. The other modes available are knockout races, where the racer in last place on each lap is eliminated; magnet mayhem events, where only one weapon, a magnet, can be used; and velocity events, where weapon use is limited to offer some divergence from the normal races.
Speaking of weapons it has to be said that this is one thing the game does very well. In fact, almost all of the weapons on show, whether they are the ones we’ve seen before in other games, or the brand new weaponry the game brings are beautifully implemented, and are a joy to use. The rocket launcher, smoke bombs and machine guns are fun but the most entertainment comes from EMPs (which blast you opponent’s craft out of control), time dilators (which slow down time for all other crafts except yours), and cables (to hook onto opponents to slow them down). In addition, if you throw the career mode out the window and just play around with the multiplayer options the fun factor of the game does go up a small bit, but ultimately that is just cause that AI is now out of the way, meaning you just have to put up with one problem, the less than perfect track designs. Regretfully, even these well thought-out sections of the game can not save it from the distinct averageness all its problems doom it to.
It’s not that Fatal Inertia does not try to impress, as there are some great ideas on show, ideas that could end up in other futuristic racers somewhere down the line. It’s just that there are superior, albeit older, game out there that better it in ever way. With F-Zero, WipEout, and to a lesser extent the Extreme-G series gracing a selection of different console over the last few years under an assortment of different guises, Fatal Inertia sure had a lot to draw upon to make a top game, but instead it seems a step down from the above titles, and as a result can only be seen as a failure. All in all the game’s single biggest problem is that it’s a highly unremarkable experience, with little to no emotion streaming from the beautiful graphics that could compel you to keep playing to experience the eye candy on show.
Good in places, but flawed everywhere else.