Fatal Inertia EX
Fatal Inertia, originally a 360 game, has made the now quite common jump across to Sony's platform after a middling reception last year. One difference on the PS3 however is that the futuristic racer is only available for download from PSN. The total game clocks in at just under 1Gb, so it took an hour or so to download. Unfortunately, as is usual with most PS3 games, it then took roughly half that time again to "install". Never mind - onto the gameplay itself.
Fatal Inertia EX revolves around races in anti-grav vehicles - these things float a couple of metres above the ground and shoot around courses at high speed. The sort of things that space pilots use to shoot womp-rats back home. Added to this are the usual upgrades and customisation options, victories translate into new parts that you can utilise.
There aren't really that many different modes in the game, the career mode involves playing through five championships of increasing difficulty. Each championship has four races, with a points system deciding the overall winner. Each race is on a different track and has different rules and weapon sets. One might be a standard race, while the next might have the player in last place at the end of each lap being eliminated.
Other races are based around different weapon sets. In a Mario-Kart-style mechanic, you can collect weapons by skimming over pads in the floor. There are the offensive weapons, and the most common ones are magnets. You can fire these at your enemies and they will stick on to their craft, slowing them down and eventually exploding and causing damage. The buzz about these weapons is that they behave according to a real physics engine - in theory, the magnets will be attracted to opponent's cars because of their magnetism, rather than any lock-on system. They are obviously pretty strong magnets as firing in their general direction usually scores a hit. Another interesting weapon is a cable that you attach to an enemy car and attach the other end to a rock or even another opponent. If you are feeling really flash, you can fire it at a rock ahead of you and use it to slingshot yourself ahead.
A lot of the weapons have dual-purposes like this, for example, you can use a rocket either as an offensive weapon by firing it ahead of you, or as a speed boost. There are other fun weapons such as an EMP, which briefly disables all nearby vehicles, or the standard temporary invincibility. These weapons do cause real damage - if your or any other vehicle takes too much damage, it explodes and is out of the race. Another nice touch is that you can combine weapons - perhaps if you are riding a rocket boost and you get a Force Blast, you can fire that backwards to add to your current boost and end up going very fast.
All of these weapon sets were good fun, but I felt one deserves special mention - when you have an unlimited supply of magnets and nothing else. These races just end up in absolute mayhem, and you need pure luck to either get miles ahead and out of range, or hope that all your opponents polish each other off instead of you.
Of course there is a split-screen mode for you and a friend, and this works as expected - no graphical problems to speak off and it is good fun too. The graphics overall are exciting and you do get a sense of the extreme speed involved.
In conclusion, Fatal Inertia EX is an enjoyable game, if a little shallow. It is nothing particularly innovative and almost feels like a portable game, owing to the lack of real depth. However it is an exciting and fun diversion, and definitely worth the budget online price for a racer with something a little different to offer.
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