Stop me if you’ve played this one before, gamers. Two friends, brothers to the end, with a bond forged behind crumbling cover under enemy fire. One has a generic, faintly Spanish name; the other is searching for a family member against all odds. It’s a third-person shooter centering on defending an alien invasion and your most reliable weapon is a gun with a ridiculously large bayonet overcompensating for shortcomings like an 80-year-old man driving a red convertible.
If this all sounds familiar then you’ve obviously played Inversion, developed by Saber Interactive and published by Namco Bandai Games.
Cobbled together from a collection of themes and ideas from marquee games, Inversion is – at its best – an average third person shooter that plays out like a late night film on the SyFy Network. That’s not to say Inversion isn’t fun, especially if you can find friends (who have even heard of the game) to join you in some online co-op or competitive matches. While it suffers from a lack of originality, cheesy plot progression, and painful voice acting, Inversion still delivers a solid 10 hours or so of action worth exploring, if only to mess around with its namesake gameplay mechanic gimmick.
Inversion’s Gravlink weapon provides interesting gravity manipulation opportunities to further your position on the battlefield, but too often the ability can be abused and suck the fun and skill out of a firefight. Unless specifically prompted to whip debris at enemies, I found it much easier to just lift them up from behind cover and shoot them in mid-air like defenseless floating meat sponges. Only in a few instances does Inversion present levels set in sideways gravity, ultimately not providing nearly enough of the Inception-esque action I had been anticipating from looking at the game’s media.
Inversion is best taken at face value for what it is: a third person shooter with gameplay elements, set pieces, and general ambiance heavily influenced by other, more memorable titles. Give it a go if you’ve got an itch to scratch before Gears of War: Judgment releases next year, but don’t expect anything new or original to stand out. Think of Inversion as a guilty pleasure on a fast-food value menu- not quite the real thing, but almost as satisfying as what it is trying to emulate.
Inversion is available now for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC from Namco Bandai.
Inversion Developer Interview E3 2011