In these possible final days of the current console generation any new IP on the market needs to introduce a unique selling point to try and make it stand out from the slew of titles already available. Sabre Interactive’s Inversion is the latest in the third-person cover based shooter genre that tries to set itself apart from the rest by introducing new mechanics to an established formula. But does it hit the mark, or is it another swing and a miss?
Set in the near future Vanguard City, you take up the role of city cop Davis Russell, who along with his partner Leo Delgado become embroiled in a city wide invasion by a group of primal savages called the Lutadore who appear to be manipulating the gravitational field across the city using some form of advanced technology.
This is where Inversion attempts to make a name for itself. Gravity manipulation is the key feature here via a device called the Gravlink, which introduces some interesting elements to the gameplay, although is never really fully taken advantage of. To begin with you are able to create small pockets of low gravity allowing you to pull enemies out from behind cover or throw small objects like barrels at advancing enemies. Further into the game the Gravlink develops to allow the picking up of larger objects such as cars and the ability to use heavy gravity fields to create cover for yourself. Zero gravity combat features throughout the game which is very reminiscent of that hotel scene in the movie Inception, where you navigate from cover to cover whilst floating around the environment.
However it’s the use of the gravity mechanics where Inversion starts to fall apart. Whilst the gravity powers are interesting, they also feel a little uninspired. Throwing cars at people is all well and fun for a time but the controls can be incredibly fiddly, often leaving you being shot to pieces whilst trying to select the right object. Unfortunately pretty much all the features on show here have been done before, in most cases executed much better, if you’ve ever used biotics in Mass Effect or stasis in Dead Space you’ll know exactly what to expect.
There is, however, one feature of Inversion that shows some promise and originality and on the rare occasions it is used works quite well. Vector Shifts really can turn some of the battles quite literally on their heads, shifting the whole battlefield 90 degrees allowing previously hard to reach enemies easier to dispose of, but like the other features it feels underutilised when it really could have been explored further.
Inversion obviously takes a lot of inspiration from other popular titles in the genre, from the already mentioned Mass Effect and Dead Space to Uncharted and most noticeably Gears of War. However instead of feeling like homage to some of the best games this generation has to offer, it comes across as an attempt to cash in, copying mechanics and just not doing anything new or creative with them. Most of the time it’s just far easier to play the game as a straight third-person shooter, ignoring the gimmicks until forced to use them either by the storyline or the developer’s blatant rationing of ammunition which pretty much negates them being there at all.
There is a competent third-person shooter hidden underneath all the gimmicks however, and fans of the genre will certainly get something from the game. With a 5-7 hour campaign that is fully playable in two player online co-op, but not local split screen despite it being an advertised feature, and co-op really is the way to go here. Having a friend go through the game with you rather than the, at times dodgy, AI really does make a difference, however, it doesn’t improve the script or the shocking voice acting but does take some of the tedium out of the far too recycled mini-boss encounters throughout the game.
As you would expect Inversion features a full suite of multiplayer modes, from the usual deathmatch and its own horde style survival mode, each taking advantage of the game’s gravity mechanics. Some modes allow you to trigger Vector Shifts whilst others simply grant you more points for kills using the gravity powers. These modes could offer a few fun nights with friends, but there’s very little to suggest it could have legs going forward, especially in the same arena as Gears of War.
In summary Inversion is your standard third person shooter, with glimpses of potential to offer something new. Unfortunately it just feels thrown together, poorly executed and lacking imagination.
MLG Rating: 4/10 Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC Release Date: 13/07/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Inversion by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PlayStation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.