Impressions: Fatal Inertia

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If anyone knows me, you know that I’m a hardcore Wipeout fan.? I’ve owned every Wipeout game ever made, including the Sega Saturn version which held up pretty good to it’s PS1 cousin.? The one thing I didn’t want to do when first playing FI was compare it to WO.? I wanted to go in with an open mind and take it for what it was.? The very first time I played I thought the game sucked.? The controls were hard to manage, I was running into shit left and right, came in dead last and was like WTF?!? My problem, I was playing it like a Wipeout game.?? So I played again…and again…and again!? I wanted to win and as I played more and more I got used to the controls and finally discovered where this game differs from WO.?

In WO, you are stuck on one plane.? You excel and steer on one plane and the only time you leave that plane is if you jump.? FI gives you more freedom.? While you may stay on one plane for most of the time, things like explosions, crashes and weapons may shoot your craft into the air.? While your craft is ballistic you have full control and now you are flying.? This came in handy when I went soaring off the course and needed to quickly get back in.? Think of Anakin in the pod race when he hit the sky except with more control.? I thought this aspect of gameplay was very cool and it kept me playing more.? I finally finished first and moved on to the harder races.

I was pleasantly surprised by the weapon system.? Each weapon you pick up has 2 firing modes ala Unreal.? For instance, one weapon may fire missles with the left shoulder but will give you a speed boost with the right shoulder.? Another one lays these electro magnetic mines on one shoulder and fires them like missles on the other shoulder.? There is one weapon that is a grappling hook.? You fire it at a vehicle in front of you and then fire again to release it.? If you don’t fire it a second time to release it you will be connected to that vehicle and lose control of flight.? Once you release I think it hooks to the ground and keeps the victim from moving until they barrel roll to break the weapon off.? Don’t mistakenly fire the grapple at stone or you will stick yourself.

The tracks are way too small, but for the demo it’s fine.? At harder levels the tracks are expanded.? I hope the emphasis on the game isn’t with natural tracks.? I would like to see some WO style man made tracks played in dense cities.? The track with the demo was cool though.? If you fly into a boulder it can roll down onto the track which in turn will make other racers have to veer out of the way.? The sense of speed is there, but I think you would see it better on longer straighter tracks as opposed to small circuits with tons of turns.? While you can fly really high and go far off course, there is a barrier out there.

Graphically I was unimpressed at first.? When the game first starts you see that same crap that plagued Halo 2 with the textures loading slow.? But then again, this is the demo.? You only see this happen when the track first loads.? Gameplay is super smooth and the control is very tight and on point.

I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who likes racing games or especially WO games.? It’s not a replacement for WO, but it’s more like Tekken is to Virtua Fighter.? Wait…no more like Soul Caliber is to Virtua Fighter.? Tekken pales in comparision to VF IMHO.? Bad analogy.? I’m sorry.? It’s a GREAT alternative to WO.? I will get this day one when it is released.? Koei gets props for going from turn based games to action games to something totally not their staple.? Download it and give it some time.

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