Release Date: November 17, 2006
Of all of the titles slated to ship alongside the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 console, Koei's Fatal Inertia looks to be one of the standout titles. Set in the 23rd century, Fatal Inertia is based on a sport that involves pilots flying around at incredible speeds and taking each other down, all in the name of honor and glory. At this year's E3, we got to talk with some members of the Koei team to check out their fast-paced racer, which is set to hit store shelves alongside the PS3.
Every ship in Fatal Inertia is based on four main types; some are faster or have higher acceleration, durability, or maneuverability, just to name a few pros and cons between the four types. Breaking it down further, each ship can be customized both on the performance and cosmetic levels. Performance changes not only include upgrades to what's under the hood, such as braking and engine upgrades, but the player also has the ability to swap out parts of the ship for brand new ones, such as wings, spoilers, thrusters, etc. Cosmetic changes come largely in the form of paint jobs and decals, though it was mentioned that some of the parts you can attach to your ship serve only a cosmetic purpose as well.
Unlike other racing games that feature combat as an optional gameplay component to winning, the combat in Fatal Inertia is absolutely integral to surviving, much less winning the race. Instead of the tired, same old weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers, Koei has taken a more creative route. While specific weapons weren't really mentioned, it was said that the development team was trying to get the physics engine involved for many of them, with weaponry such as magnets, robes, and cables.
A cited example was the emergence gameplay that can be seen as players find creative ways to use the tow rope. You could attach one end to the enemy and the other to the ground to really end their day, or maybe attach it to a boulder to slow them down. An even more creative user might find a use in attaching it to themselves and a nearby cliff face to take a particularly extreme corner at high speed, or perhaps attach your ship to another racer's craft.
When ships take damage, they will get scratched and crushed up, and smoke might pour from the holes in the hull. Past being merely a showcase for the graphics, ship damage actually translates fully into the gameplay. For instance, an enemy weapon destroys your right wing, which had a thruster mounted on it. Not only will your ship list towards the right and be much harder to control, but it will also be slower and less responsive. To repair your ship, you simply have to fly through the pit stop area, which repairs based on how long you stay there. Ships with barely any damage can just fly through at top speed, while a ship with heavy damage will want to bring down their speed so that they have enough time in the pit to get fully repaired.
While Koei has a couple of other titles that they are aiming to have available at the PlayStation 3 launch, it really seems like Fatal Inertia will be their flagship offering as the company enters the next-gen market. More than F-Zero with guns, Fatal Inertia looks to capture not only the sense of real speed that 23rd century racing should have, but also the non-standard ships and weaponry than you'd expect. If anything else, Koei's Fatal Inertia looks to be as good of an excuse as any to blow a racer out of the sky as you navigate a hairpin turn in a canyon at hundreds of miles per hour, and that's never a bad thing. Look for more information on Fatal Inertia in the coming months.
Amanda "StormyDawn" Hale also contributed to this preview.
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