Fatal Inertia EX

Lead designer Mike Bond on what's changed since the 360 release.

After the Xbox 360 original took a bit of a kicking, KOEI could have been forgiven for slinking away and giving up on Fatal Inertia - its stab at a WipEout-style futuristic racer - altogether.

Instead, lead designer Mike Bond and his team got back to work on the PlayStation 3 version, and next month will release the result - Fatal Inertia EX - exclusively on PSN. Backed up by a downloadable demo, new tracks and a host of refinements, it aims to make up for mistakes made on Microsoft's platform.

We caught up with Bond to talk about the game's chequered past and what KOEI Canada has in store for PS3 owners.

Eurogamer: When Fatal Inertia was first unveiled at TGS in 2005, it was aiming to be a PS3 launch title - what happened?

Mike Bond: Well, a lot of stuff contributed to the delays. We got a pretty late start on the project, considering the launch of the PS3 was supposed to be in early 2006. The development on the TGS demo and video started literally a month and a half before the show. Added to that, we were a relatively young team, working with new technology, on a platform that was still under development. You might say we just bit off a little more than we could chew. Fortunately, our team is very talented and dedicated and we have taken the time to make Fatal Inertia EX live up to our original vision.

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Left a bit.

Eurogamer: It's been reported that the PS3 release was originally delayed due to problems with Unreal Engine 3. What kind of problems did you have?

Mike Bond: Unfortunately, due to the current legal climate, I think I'll have to decline to comment on that one. Sorry!

Eurogamer: What lessons did you take from the Xbox 360 version?

Mike Bond: I think the biggest lesson we took away from the Xbox 360 version was related to game balance. After developing and playing Fatal Inertia for so long, it became very easy to underestimate the difficulty for a beginning player. Our goal was to make FI challenging, but many players found the level of difficulty to be much higher than anticipated. With Fatal Inertia EX, we were given the opportunity to spend more time testing with inexperienced players. As a result, we've added a new venue, the Fatal Inertia Proving Grounds Facility. Not only does this include extensive new training elements, but the Proving Grounds are home to eight new racetracks as well.

Eurogamer: In terms of changes, what sort of things have you focused on? Track design? Physics? Gameplay style? Or a mixture?

Mike Bond: For FI EX, we've focused on making the game much faster, slicker, and more accessible for the player. We've made major changes to the flight model to allow for way more speed, a lot less crashes, and much more fun in general. When the player first loads the game, however, the most obvious improvement will be the new interface and menu environment. Added to this, we've designed a whole new natural world to race in (including eight new courses). FI EX's visuals have been given a substantial improvement as well, from general polish and better lighting to new water and weather effects. To make the game easier to get into, we've also overhauled the early part of Career Mode to give players a smoother introduction to the mechanics of FI.

We've also added a ton of other stuff including co-operative split-screen Career Mode, online leaderboards for best times, Sixaxis and DualShock3 support and even a new difficulty level to give elite players an added challenge!

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