Fatal Inertia

We haven’t exactly been deprived of futuristic racers over the last few years; from the 16-bit thrills of SNES classic F-Zero to the club-cool speed-bouts of Wipeout and Quantum Redshift, the genre has been ten a penny ever since someone figured out that Formula 1 would be much more exciting with big laser guns and The Prodigy thumping out trackside.

Still, Fatal Inertia - KOEI's first foray into the racing genre- genuinely looks to be more than just another cookie cutter hover-car racer, making use of Gears of War 's Unreal Engine 3 for radical physics-based racing and breakneck visuals that are sure to inspire more than a few wind tunnel-looks in front of the widescreen TV.

"The physics will be huge in Fatal Inertia", says producer Takazumi Tomoike. "We’re absolutely confident that it will enable us to deliver an experience that's unlike anything out there at the moment." Having taken a long hard stare at Fatal Inertia 's unique and impressive combat system, we think he may well be onto something there.

Unlike other sci-fi racers, Fatal Inertia' s arsenal of futuristic weaponry isn't there to simply send your opponent flaming across the track. Rather than causing actual damage, every single weapon takes advantage of physics to manipulate and spiral enemy craft out of control.

The game's weapon of choice will be magnets- projectile bars that latch on to your opponent's hover-ship, causing it to veer off course. Rockets take this method of sabotage to the next level; attaching to the targeted vehicle and then igniting a booster, sending the poor driver spiralling.

Fatal Inertia is also set to feature open environments with a series of scattered checkpoints replacing traditional pre-laid tracks. "Players will be free to find their own routes between the checkpoints," explains Tomoike. "Given that our maps are all in the great outdoors, rather than on an enclosed track, there will be numerous variables that come into play depending on the route you choose to take."

Assuming KOEI can pull it off effectively, Fatal Inertia could just have the physics, combat and speed-thrills to propel it towards sci-fi racing stardom.