The Xbox 360's garage is outrageously well-stocked with racers, yet Koei have spied a gap in this market, hence Fatal Inertia - what initially looks like Koei's answer to WipEout but transpires to be more like a, well... rubbishy futuristic version of Diddy Kong Racing really.
Controlling your craft is innovative enough, since in addition to the usual left and right stuff you're forced to deal with elements of pitch and yaw as well as side boosts when manoeuvring around tricky corners. This ain't no flight sim though, and with its arcadey onus it's only occasionally you'll have to pull your nose up sharpish to dodge ground obstacles. Then there are the weapons - the usual generic suspects like rockets and 'force blasts' are redeemed by some smart secondary abilities, such as providing you with temporary speed boosts.
This potentially adds a welcome layer of strategy to the dull racing, though most races descend into slogs that are more likely to test your patience than your handling skills. The secret is to use the brake boost technique on the start line and get yourself as far away from the mob and their in-fighting as quickly as possible - chances are you'll romp to an easy win more often than not.
Fatal Inertia's major, unforgivable stumbling points are that, 95% of the time, it's just not bloody quick enough. This is the next generation Koei, so if F-Zero GX on GameCube can pull off barnstorming 60fps super-speedy racing why are we lumbered with crappy frame-rates with all the thrills of a joyride in a ride-on mower with the handbrake on? Further inexcusable incompetence is to be found in the presence of irritating checkpoints (miss one and you're buggered), a total lack of shortcuts and so-so course design.
Chuck in some token engine and cosmetic upgrades (our advice: pimp up the armour-plating on your space barge otherwise you'll find yourself battered and blown to smithereens on the harder championships) and that's your lot. Even some mildly entertaining four-player split-screen head-to-head fails to redeem this one from the kicking it richly deserves. As for Koei, well... stick to Dynasty Warriors, fellas.
A brave concept fails to disguise a lame racer not worthy of sniffing F-Zero's fumes.
- Weird ideas, poorly executed
- A laugh with mates... If it's in a bargain bin