On paper, Inversion sounds like a recipe for a solid sci-fi shooting experience worthy of your time, and to be honest it has a fair crack at accomplishing that. But when put into execution and experienced first-hand, Inversion unfortunately fails to impress.
Inversion puts players in the role of David Russel, a cop who is forced to rise up and take action when their once peaceful city is invaded by an unknown and ruthless enemy. His daughter missing, and all support out the window, Russel and his partner Leo Delgado, are completely outnumbered and outgunned, but push in in true buddy-cop fashion. The plot itself gets a little out of hand as the game goes on, leaving a few plot holes and some lacking believability in the interaction between the main characters. But it’s an interesting premise, and with an eye on the action and looking for the next big set piece, this isn’t the biggest loss for the title.
Saber Interactive are perhaps best known as developer of TimeShift, a 2007 FPS with a focus on time manipulation. Inversion shows that they aren’t just a one-trick pony when it comes to providing unique worldly manipulation mechanics. While TimeShift wasn’t for everyone, and divided audiences, the time control workings worked well and made the game stand out. The same goes for Inversion, but where the aforementioned title had you controlling time, Inversion turns gravity on its head with real-time gravitational manipulation thrown into the mix.
The game is a cover-based Third Person Shooter, with the core gameplay – cover, shooting, grenades, weaponry – seemingly being ripped straight from the Gears of War series. We’re probably a little too used to Gears clones these days anyway, but Inversion actually pulls it off better than most. It does this by essentially not trying to hide the source of its inspiration, with so many resembling qualities the developers couldn’t seriously have thought gamers wouldn’t notice so prominently. It’s little things like the entire armoury setup, and gameplay design such as holes that open through the ground and spew forth enemies until a well-placed grenade closes them over, that simply scream Gears without so much as a cover thrown over them to give their own flavour.
While its unashamedly close resemblance to the kind of third-person action titles may be an off-putting factor, it’s also ironically its strongest point. The general gameplay in Inversion is good – it’s more polished and responsive than most other TPS games, particularly those in the sci-fi side of things. The game also some excellent set pieces, helped heavily by the gravity-bending gameplay, and consistently impressive and enjoyable.
The gravity manipulation I mentioned before really does play a significant part in the game, and without it Inversion would really suffer from a severe lack of originality. But thankfully, the gravity mechanics don’t just help make the combat more tactical and enjoyable, but also does its part on making the game feature some excellent set pieces. Enemies can be on completely different planes of gravity, while you’re running up walls or on a roof, and with the scale of some of the firefights, this makes for some great moments.
Inversion has strong character and environment design – especially the scenes showing the invading enemies technology and areas – but sadly lacks this kind of oomph in any other respect. Textures and modelling are decent, but the character animation brings them down heavily, with very blocky and wooden motion throughout both cutscenes and gameplay.
The environmental and scenery design is the pick of the litter here, because as I mentioned earlier, Saber have delivered some great set pieces for you to blast through, and the style of the gravity-focused gameplay and crumbling futuristic cityscape provides some neat scenery that doesn’t disappoint in the way of variety.
Much like the animation, the voice acting here is a real letdown. The enemies speak in a broken-English tongue which sounds awful, and the regular humans and soldiers simply sound void of any real emotion or depth – which is sorely missed when some major story elements and scenes are, or at least should be, very emotional experiences. This is further hurt by some poor scripting in the way of character building or proper narrative structure with regards to the main characters and their tale.
The sound effects, such as weapons being fired and explosions are weak and empty, sounding almost too artificial, which is a surprising aspect seeing as the game puts a lot of effort and faith in the action elements. Finally, Inversion can be added to the long list of other games which simply fail to hit the musical score for a sci-fi on the head, with an adequate but ultimately forgettable soundtrack.
- Neat gravity-based mechanics
- Good set piece and level design
- Prominently unoriginal
- Poor voice acting and sound effects
- Mediocre graphics and animation
At its core, Inversion is very little more than an unashamed Gears of War clone with the equally gimmicky and cool gravity mechanics being the only thing separating it. It’s a decent distraction while it lasts, but the tacked-on multiplayer modes and general mediocrity that plagues the titles every turn means this is destined to be left behind and forgotten. A shining example of how a solid structure still won’t take you far without much originality or innovation.
Written by Lax