Published on June 18th, 2012 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Review Notes: A copy of Inversion was received for review purposes.
Mix together the shooting style of Gears of War, the control scheme of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and a storyline straight out of M. Night Shyamalan’s rejected notes, and you’ve got Saber Interactive’s latest shooter, Inversion. Inversion sets itself apart by giving players the ability to change the gravitational pull of objects and enemies.
Davis Russel, a loving father and police officer, and Leo Delgado, his partner, embark on a journey in the search for Davis’s daughter, who goes missing when his city is invaded by an unknown enemy, later identified as the Lutadores. The Lutadores are capturing men for slave labor and children for unexplained reasons.
The story revolves around Davis trying to find his missing daughter–this is how the game unfolds and how we immediately meet our enemy. Nothing is explained as to whom the Lutadores are and why they have attacked the city. They are brutal barbarians that have a wearable machine called the Gravlink, which is a device that is able to control the gravitational pull on objects and move from floor to vertically up a building with ease.
Coming from the ground, Davis and Leo explore the Lutadore camps only to find out the invasion is bigger than what they initially thought. Underneath, the city networked underground caverns, an entire metro station, and fighting flying drones straight out of “Terminator Salvation.” Nothing is ever explained as to why all this was under the city and why no one has ever found it there before. The Lutadores use the metro to transfer children. Naturally, Davis and Leo take the train in hope to find his daughter. What they discover is not what they expected.
Davis and Leo became more determined to defeat the Lutadores and to find Davis’s little girl after they find that there is something to do with the children in all of this mess.
I am not going to spoil the ending of the game but it leaves an unsatisfying and unaccomplished feeling.
Namco Bandai tried to focus on having a compelling storyline with a surprising twist that simply did not work for multiple reasons. The biggest issue is the length of the game without any other plots or story details to keep the gamers interest. The single player campaign can be completed in about five hours. For a storyline normally used for a film, it could hold someone’s interest for about an hour and a half to maybe two. As you play through the campaign new environments are introduced but Davis enforces his need to find his daughter.
The gameplay is similar to Gears of War. However, the cover system is not as fluid as seen in Gears of War. The character has to be close to the cover in order for the “action” prompt button to become available. Instead of sliding into cover, you simply duck into the cover. This becomes frustrating as you are being littered with bullets trying to get behind cover quickly.
At times you are prompted to maneuver to different cover, however when executed, the majority of the time it simply takes you out and leaves you to move to new cover manually. Even when you blind fire, Davis automatically leans out and exposes his body to fire leaving him vulnerable to damage. The same can be also said in regards to boss battles. The majority of the boss battles require you to constantly be moving and killing enemies, thus making the cover system control scheme ineffective. These battles consist of a lot of awkward running and trying to shoot multiple enemies coming from all directions.
The game itself suffers with a number of glitches. It is prone to screen tearing, the “action” buttons do not always prompt or the prompt very late (one instance it did not prompt at all and we had to restart at the checkpoint), and the dialogue does not make any sense or simply repeats itself. Some of my favorite bad dialogue moments include:
(This is dialogue when you arrive at the metro seeing it is filled with Lutadores. It made sense to have a stealth mission instead of the run and gun.)
Davis: “There’s too much activity down there!”
Leo: “We’ll be fine. Make sure you have enough ammo, we’ll need it.”
“You could focus on saving the world but I only have one goal,” Davis says to Don even with the fate of the world in their hands.
Finally, Leo to Davis throughout the entire chapter you are infiltrating the Lutadore’s home habitat: “Come on Davis! Move it!…I’m not going in there alone. Hurry up!” (This line still continues to repeat itself even when you are ahead of Leo.)
Other issues included a lack of variety of character enemy models and repeated boss battles with monotonous strategy. And not to mention the bad character animation when being assisted by your partner to get through garage doors, or lift him over high ledges, and jumping from heights.
The appeal of the game is the manipulation of gravity, as in doing battle in zero gravity or switching gravitational pulls to fight on a side of a building. These are both the shining moments and biggest downfalls of the game. With the Havok engine, the floating or flying debris and bodies look amazing during fights. There is something satisfying about going through windows and seeing your character upside-down or sideways when changing the gravitational pull before the camera fixes itself.
In terms of zero gravity moments, the Havok engine really shines as your cover and any other debris floating around breaks apart when hit with a bullet and slowly falls apart. These battles are fun when you fighting against Lutadores with guns. However, they get extremely frustrating toward the end of the game when you go against female Lutadores with blades on both hands. They are much faster and fluid while in zero gravity. When faced with a four to five of these enemies, coupled with the unresponsive control scheme, you often lose sight of all your enemies leading to a number of cheap deaths.
Inversion includes multiplayer matches via system link or online play which I hoped would make up for the troublesome campaign. However, when I tried to connect to play online the community was already dead. I was unable to connect to any type of the multiplayer games. Two people did join my party–but dropped out almost immediately. In addition, the box advertises a cooperative mode but it was only available via system link.
If you want to get a better idea of how Inversion’s multiplayer looks and feels, check out Greg Bargas’ impressions.
With dry storyline, unresponsive cover system, lack of a multiplayer community, and a number of glitches, Inversion has too many bad things going for it. The zero gravity and changing gravitational pulls is visually stunning however when engaging enemies in close combat, the control scheme fails.
You will find yourself dying many times with cheap deaths, or losing track your character because of bad camera angles. After hours of repeated enemies and boss fights, the game becomes uninteresting and any twists or turns it takes become ineffective. This game is not so bad that it should not be played but I suggest picking it up when it hits the bargain bin.
-Bad “action” button responses