We Revealed ‘Fatal Inertia EX,’ But Now That We’ve Played It — What’s the Verdict?

MTV Multiplayer revealed the existence of “Fatal Inertia EX.”

Last night, I finally played Koei’s PlayStation Network-exclusive futuristic racer. A racer that was supposed to be a PlayStation 3 launch title, except it launched on Xbox 360 first.

Koei Canada has spent the last few months tweaking “Fatal Inertia” for its downloadable relaunch on its original hardware destination.

Will it be worth the $29.99 that Koei is asking? Well, that depends on something…

Koei Canada said one of the biggest complaints lodged against the Xbox 360 version was the difficulty. Gamers and critics said “Fatal Inertia” was too hard. “Fatal Inertia EX” introduces a new tier of “proving grounds” races. That’s a fancy word for tutorial. The proving grounds is where “Fatal Inertia EX” explains its control nuances, weapon functions, and basic strategies for surviving on the track.

It’s hard to imagine that wasn’t there before. Yet even at the end of the tutorial, I had little grasp of the game’s numerous weapons. Each weapon’s identifying icon are abstract enough to be confusing, which means you’ll often end up firing a weapon inappropriately. Fortunately, new weapon pick-ups are littered every few feet, but there’s a good chance you’ll misfire on that, too.

It makes the whole “Fatal Inertia EX” experience feel a little random. You’re not sure what your weapon is going to do. There’s a seemingly intricate but brushed-aside boost system that requires you to slow down before speeding up, and one of the most common items, an “Indiana Jones”-esque whip that connects to other vehicles, is usually more frustrating than fun.

To “Fatal Inertia EX”’s credit, there are moments where the seemingly endless time spent working with the Unreal Engine 3 technology have paid off. While some environments look straight out of a more brightly lit “Gears of War,” some of the aquatic and arctic-based tracks are stunning. The water is gorgeous.

But, like I said, there’s a catch.

Not long ago, I went hands-on with Sony’s own “WipEout HD.” A longtime fan of the “WipEout” series, the high-definition incarnation struck all the right chords. “Wipeout HD” looks and plays wonderfully. It’s everything you’d want in a “Wipeout” remake.

That’s the biggest problem facing “Fatal Inertia EX.” We don’t have a specific release date for “Wipeout HD” yet, but it’s soon — soon enough to make an impact on purchasing decisions. Having played both, “Fatal Inertia EX” is a hard sell, even if only as a compliment to Sony’s racer. It’s rough around the edges.

But if futuristic racers are your thing, “Fatal Inertia EX” comes packed with more content than the original “Fatal Inertia” at half the price. No matter how you slice it, no matter what your thoughts on the game, that’s a deal.