|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Saber Interactive|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: February 7, 2012|
|Players: 1-2 co-op, 2+ deathmatch|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Wirtanen
It seems that cover-based combat systems are becoming the norm for third-person shooters these days. Inversion is a game that takes this idea and flips it on its head—literally. This shooter is all about messing with the idea of gravity, and you'll often see people walking upside-down on ceilings. I gave Inversion some play time at E3 this year, testing out both single-player and multiplayer modes. So is this gravity gimmick enough to make Inversion stand out among the pack? Let's find out.
If you've ever played a cover-based third-person shooter, Inversion should feel fairly familiar. You can run, duck for cover behind waist-high objects, and switch into a down-the-barrel view for shooting. However, once you start playing the campaign, you'll realize early on that you are getting shot at from a direction you didn't expect—above you.
Inversion manipulates gravity to create a faster-paced action environment. The game is cover-based, but cover doesn't help you very much when the enemy is standing upside-down directly above your head. The game maps use the idea of vectors, areas where gravity changes direction. For example, you can see people running on the walls and ceilings. It's almost like Super Mario Galaxy meets Gears of War. What's really fun is getting ready to toss a grenade and seeing its trajectory as a wave shape instead of the more familiar arc shape.
To make things even more interesting, you have a Gravlink gun that lets you shoot a sphere of energy to negate gravity in a specific area. Anything in this sphere will become temporarily weightless and will just float there in midair. Yes, this includes enemies behind cover. You can mess up gravity around people that are hiding from you so that they float out of cover and into a more vulnerable position. I even tested this mechanic by shooting it into a pool of molten lava that was off in the distance. A sphere of molten lava floated weightlessly upward. Nice.
The Gravlink gun also works a lot like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2. You can pick up impossibly heavy objects and throw them with great force. You can even pick up enemies and perform brutal body slams, smashing them into a wall or floor. In fact, I was told you can get through the entire playable demo without using any weapons besides the Gravlink gun.
In the single-player campaign, I faced off against hordes of mutants in an area with a lot of boulders and lava. They were unarmed, but tended to move fast and in packs. I realized it was much easier to toss boulders at them than to shoot them, due to their large numbers. Otherwise I could send a massive gravity-reducing blast their way to slow them down and pick them off one at a time.
Multiplayer modes like deathmatch are where I think this game shows the most potential. I learned all sorts of tricks to dispose of other players, like tossing a grenade at an opponent behind cover then throwing a zero gravity sphere to leave the player helplessly hovering near the live grenade. Another technique is to toss a sphere to make boulders hover in front of you, giving you some protection. However, this has to be used with caution, because quick-thinking opponents can hurl these boulders back at you.
But this gravity mechanic doesn't ever leave players completely helpless. Even when you are hovering, you can still use your weapons. Players with fast trigger fingers will be able to bring down opponents even when they are floating in a zero gravity zone.
In the map I played, there were green glowing circles on the ground. These were zero gravity areas that could be used to launch players into the air. I didn't spend enough time with the game to get these sorts of jumps perfected, but I saw some other players do some pretty wild things using these zero gravity zones.
In my brief time with inversion, I got to see a bit of the strategies available to players. However, the developers are anticipating players will find unique ways to play that they never even thought of. This gravity mechanic has a lot of potential for improvisational gameplay, and we'll have to wait to see what the online community will come up with.
Inversion is scheduled to launch for both PS3 and Xbox 360 on February 7, 2012, and a PC release is in the works for a later date.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer