You never get a second chance to make a first impression...unless you happen to be an oft-delayed and eventually underwhelming futuristic racing game only available on one console. In that case, you can always hop over the hardware divide and try to impress the other lot instead.
So it is for Fatal Inertia, the futuristic hover racer that briefly made promising noises at the start of this hardware generation. Lest we forget, Fatal Inertia was originally a PS3 launch title that fell by the wayside and eventually only turned up on the 360 last September, preceded by a demo of such legendary awfulness that the game's lead designer expressed public regret that it had been allowed to see the light of day.
Fatal Inertia is the name given to some vaguely-explained far-future racing tournament in which giant corporations provide nippy hovercraft ships for reckless pilots to battle in. You don't have to look too far beyond the meaningless buzzword title, which sounds more like an erotic thriller for physicists, to see that this is a magpie game - snatching popular ideas and imagery from other popular games and shuffling them together in the hope of attracting enough "make do" second-tier purchases. Following its predictably muted 360 reception last year, and after yet more delays, it's finally on the PS3 in a noticeably tinkered form. As well as new tracks, new tutorials and a lot less ugly slowdown, it's also now a mid-priced PSN download rather than a full-priced game on a disc, all of which are good things and should be praised now before the dirty work begins.
Members of the Fatal Inertia development team "really regret" releasing the Xbox 360 demo of the game that caught such flak in the run-up to the game's release last year, lead designer Mike Bond has told Eurogamer.
In Fatal Inertia, the first game from Japanese publisher Koei's new Canadian development studio, you drive futuristic hovering race vehicles at ridiculous speeds and fire weapons to impede the progress of your opponents.
Koei's PS3 launch title is a racing game. This is the same Koei, right?
A flying car zooms through a canyon, hot on the heels of another. Twin machineguns pop out of its bonnet and start spraying lead. Hurrah! Flying vehicular combat - we've done that. Aha, buuuut, it's not shooting the other guy; it's shooting the wall up ahead of him; and as the bullets cut across the surface they loosen a selection of rocks which fall just in time to smash the other guy to the ground and leave him stunned. A couple of seconds he's up again, and the chase resumes.
Koei unveiled two new PlayStation 3 titles at a press conference in Japan today and showed what it described as "CG concept work" on another - before pledging support to all three next-generation formats and saying some nice things about the newly announced Revolution controller.
The new games come from Koei's Omega Force studio and its new Canadian outpost. Omega Force, best known for its work on Dynasty Warriors, is working on a game called Bladestorm: Hundred Years War, which is - yes - about that rather lengthy medieval conflict. Producer Akihiro Suzuki said it was "an age that hasn't been covered as much in games," and that Bladestorm would be "a type of action game that presents something you've never seen before" - and indeed haven't seen yet, since Koei declined to show anything other than the logo.
Koei Canada meanwhile is working on a racing title called Fatal Inertia, of which more a bit later. In short, it's a combat racing title that lets for which Koei is pushing the physics side heavily [very good - Ed]. You'll be able to fire non-lethal weapons at opponents, and even at the landscape - sending rocks crashing down to derail your enemies. We saw some demo footage of this - CG and early in-engine prototypes - and it'll be a neat concept if it's realised properly.