Inversion is certainly not a bad game, but the problem is it’s not a great game either. Everything works in the manner it should, but nothing shines. Not even Inversion’s party trick, the ability to manipulate and deal with shifting gravity, is that inconceivable. The Gravlink does nothing we haven’t seen before, and while the shifting gravity was a great concept, it doesn’t quite impress as might have been anticipated. As a result Inversion makes for a fairly mild third-person shooter experience – while I did enjoy it to some extent, I was waiting for an encore which never arrived.
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Namco Bandai
For fans of: Third-person shooters, Gears of War
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 6.5/10
What we liked
- Co-op offline and online
- Difficulty level
- The bad guys
- Boss fights
- Interesting gaming world
Not so much
- Bland narrative
- Forgettable good guys
- Uninspiring gameplay
Gameplay and Features
Inversion is a third-person shooter that follows a fairly familiar formula when it comes to the ‘shooter’ mechanics, but attempts to offer something different by having players deal with shifting gravity at times. The Earth is devastated by a savage humanoid-alien tribe who bring with them the ‘Gravlink’ device, which Inversion revolves around, and which allows users to manipulate gravity. You play as cop, Davis Russell or co-op using his partner. Russell’s main priority is finding his wife and young daughter and needs to face the invaders in linear level after level, often concluding with boss fights.
Inversion revolves around the Gravlink brought in by the invaders, which Russell and his partner acquire. The Gravlink allows the user to temporarily manipulate gravity by using two settings which either lowers the gravity around objects to levitate them, or send objects crashing to the ground. Players can throw levitated objects to break-through objects or simply throw them to use the objects as weapons. With the ability to throw objects around with the Gravlink device, the game benefits from having fairly destructible environments – this adds nicely to the chaotic state of the game’s world.
The control-mechanics borrows copiously from Gears of War, unashamedly so with many aspects. The running and diving; the cover-system and even the weapons and their cursors will be so familiar to anyone that has played a Gears of War title. The main weapon was obviously inspired by the Lancer and the rest of the weapons are slightly disguised, but still inspired from Gears’ arsenal. If Inversion’s hero wasn’t so ‘clean-cut’, for the first few minutes you would be forgiven for thinking you were playing a Gears of War spin-off. The game then shows itself and what it’s selling once you are introduced to the gravitational premise.
The levels were well designed in the way that when they gravity shifts and all of a sudden you are running around on what was the walls the ceilings before. You will lose gravity at times, and while floating, you will need to thrust from floating object to object. This aspect unfortunately is unfortunately quite linear in design. It is a great concept but I would’ve loved to have seen more diversity in the design.
You can also play through the campaign in co-op mode online and offline in split-screen. Thanks to the campaign’s well balanced difficulty in the large battles, ‘Co-op Mode’ is well justified, especially in the higher difficulty settings. There are also some bits where your partner comes into play, like helping you hop over a wall, and other arbitrary exercises. And because the AI in singleplayer mode is often questionable, co-op is probably your best bet. In the singleplayer mode, I was often waiting on a clueless partner, and doing the Lion’s share of taking down bosses.
A Horde mode has become a pretty standard inclusion in the shooter arena, and up-to four players can try their hand at ‘Inversion’s Horde’. This was actually probably the most enjoyable mode for me, and again thanks to the good level of difficulty, ‘Inversion Horde’ was meaningful.
Like much of Inversion’s campaign features, the Gravlink is again where Inversion finds its own identity over Gears of War. The ‘Multiplayer Modes’ again manifested from Epic’s series – the modes’ names differ, but Gears fans should recognise the variants of the ‘Annex’ or ‘King of the Hill’ modes. Lastly there is the obligatory ‘Deathmatch’ and ‘Team Deathmatch’ modes which offer slightly different to the norm, as the Gravlink can play a part here. Up-to twelve players can use their Gravlink to hurl objects at each other, or as in the campaign, players can use the Gravlink to smash (even other players) into the ground. While he Gravlink certainly does brings a new dimension in the multiplayer arena, I suspect Inversion isn’t exactly going to be competing in the online mainstream of shooters.
Sound and Graphics
The sound and graphic quality is uninspiring for the most part. The visuals are not terrible, but not exactly ‘big blockbuster’ material. The graphic quality is fair, the destructible gaming world makes for a chaotic atmosphere, and there is even a good amount of cut-scenes, but Inversion never quite absorbed me in. The main character is neither the ‘anti-hero’ nor the ‘classic-hero’ type, and perhaps he was always supposed to be a ‘regular Joe, but this makes him forgettable.
The narrative and dialogue between Russell and his partner does nothing either to elevate the story, and so connect with them. The ‘bad guys’ strange language, or version of English, was to me actually more interesting than the good guys’ chatter. The humanoid’s design was even more interesting than the hero’s – the over-sized, grotesque tribe were certainly more memorable than the heroes.
The sound effects and scoring continue with the somewhat bland presentation – while nothing was terrible, nothing really stood out for me. Perhaps the fact that I have been spending a lot of time with Rock star’s Max Payne of late, did Inversion no favours for Inversion and me.
While I certainly didn’t loathe my time with Inversion, I wasn’t exactly counting the minutes until I could play again. Inversion’s party-trick was a bit disappointing with its fairly uninspiring design and the gameplay was fairly straight forward. If you are going to play it safe with the gameplay when making a game, then you need to drive the game it with a strong narrative or with audio/visual pizzazz. Inversion doesn’t – everything on offer is of an acceptable level but nothing really stands out and shines.
I wouldn’t recommend totally ignoring Inversion, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it either among the blockbusters this year has seen. Again I feel I should stress though – it is by no means that bad a game, just not that great a game either.
Read about our ratings here.