GAME NAME: Inversion
DEVELOPER(S): Saber Interactive
PUBLISHER(S): Namco Bandai
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): 13 July 2012
At first (and... well... for the rest of the game if you let it...), Inversion looks like a shameless rip-off of a few recent titles, not the least of which being Gears of War. If you wanted to, you could very simply scoff and walk away, as gamers have experienced much of what Inversion has to offer several times over... However, it wouldn't be fair to simply ignore it as a result, because no game has put all of these ideas together, and Inversion largely does this well.
Essentially third person sci-fi title, set in a fictitious city called Vanguard, you play as Davis Russel, a Vanguard City cop on his way home to drop in on his family when an unknown enemy attacks. The enemy calls themselves the Lutadore, and the attack turns out to be nothing short of annihilation.
Clearly technologically advanced, and speaking what appears to be a bastardised version of English, the Lutadore bring with them a technology that allows them to manipulate gravity. This means that some levels will see the ceiling suddenly become the ground, and at other times, the player will be cast into zero gravity environments, where navigation requires the player to propel themselves from floating chunk of rubble to floating chunk of rubble. It's fun, and not overused, which is pleasant to see.
More than this, though, Davis (and Leo, his permanent sidekick, giving the game an Army of Two vibe at times) will come across a bit of gravity manipulation technology - allowing players to fire pulses of low gravity at enemies to make them float, or alternatively use pulses of high gravity to pin them violently to the ground. Certain puzzles will require the use of this technology to get around obstacles, but unfortunately these feel tacked on simply to enforce use of the technology on the player.
The beauty of it, though, lies in the fact that--for the most part--players DON'T have to use the gravity tech. You could choose to play through most of the game simply using the multitude of guns and grenades that are made available, throwing in a little gravity here and there. Some bosses DO require gravity manipulation, but at these times the developers (Saber Interactive, who also worked on the recent Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary campaign) have laid the battlefield out in such a way that it's damned fun.
In terms of the story... Well, it's standard stuff. Guy loses family in apocalypse, guy spends entire game searching for them. It does tend to drag through the middle of the 13 chapters, but I encourage players to soldier on - the story gets much more interesting in later stages. This is not to say it ever gets GOOD, but it does get interesting (I don't want to spoil anything, but there are some strange decisions in terms of narrative and environment later in the game).
Speaking of environments, Inversion doesn't constantly bombard players with apocalyptic cityscapes - at least, it doesn't feel that way at least, even given the game is set at the time of an apocalypse of sorts. Environs vary, and there is a very clear direction, which changes things up. It looks good all the while, but nothing ground-breaking given the competition this far into this console generation. In fact, while it does compare favourably against older titles, Inversion doesn't seem to be up to scratch in terms of graphical fidelity when compared to contemporary titles... Or originality, for that matter, with character models really not looking like anything we haven't seen before.
All of that said, the game PLAYS very well. The controls aren't perfect, and the aim toggle is frustrating given most titles require players to hold a button to aim... At times, I found myself repeating some sections time and time again because I was fighting the controls, but I always went back for more. I feel this is reflective of an enjoyable title - sure, the controls aren't great, but it didn't matter in the end. It's quite a solid third-person romp overall, whilst never really doing anything new.
Multiplayer seemed to be mostly standard fare, but there weren't many players in matchmaking at the time I was playing to review. I did get one good game in, and found the title comparable to most other shooters of this type, and the level design was well planned, at least for the one map I got to run around in. The campaign can also be played co-op online, should you choose to, but there is no option for split-screen local co-op.
Overall, I'd have to say that it would be really unfair to simply disregard this title based on the fact it resembles... multiple others. Sure - it does, but it all works so well together. It's fun to play, there's an original storyline to go along with it all, and beyond all of that, it doesn't really feel like anything else while it plays out, and I think that's the most important thing. Given Namco Bandai has released Inversion at an Australian RRP of $69.95 (well below the standard for new titles), fans of this style of game would be remiss to let this one slip by. Perhaps not one for fans of multiplayer, but the campaign is worthy of at least a quick play through.