A handful of gimmicks may not be enough to keep Inversion from being just another cover-based shooter.
“Gravity” is the keyword in Saber Interactive’s Inversion: High gravity, low gravity, and zero gravity. These concepts effect the way you attack enemies, the way you move around the world and the way the world moves around you.
Along with the tried-and-true Gears of War button layout and standard commands, Inversion introduces the ability to manipulate gravity with the right bumper (via the Gravlink). By switching between high and low gravity, the player can cause enemies and objects to float up or fall down.
Summoning high gravity can expose enemies hiding in cover, while low gravity can be used as a method of slowing enemies down. You can also grab objects and enemies suspended by high gravity and throw them outward. The two powers can be combined, tossing enemies into the sky and then hurling them at the ground with a low gravity attack.
The dark, lava ridden caverns and desolate cities of Inversion doesn’t help to separate it from similar title. However, the shifting level design does – and judging by the game’s promotional materials, it seems Namco is aware of this. Many levels feature areas where the center of gravity and playing field shift, causing the ceiling or wall of the cave to become the floor. Aiming at enemies as you go from one surface to the next can be disorienting. Thankfully your grenades provide a line-of-projection that will direct it toward whichever surface you aim it.
These sections along with the game’s uninspired zero gravity areas – which really are just a series of platforms you hang on and jump between – recall Dead Space. The problem isn’t that all of Inversion‘s ideas have been done before; the problem is that they have been done better. The minutia of combat (aiming, melee and clinging to cover) leaves something to be desired. The amount of tactical options that the gravity manipulation provides makes for some fun firefights, but the game’s lack of polish and originality is apparent in multiplayer.
Only team deathmatch was demoed at the show, but the full game will contain a “King of the Hill” variant called Hourglass. In those mode, an opposing team most capture the enemy’s base. After that is accomplished, the center of gravity shifts 180 degrees and the roles of attacker and defender switch.
From the generic character design to the dark, brown environments, Inversion isn’t making a strong argument for why gamers should care to play it in a post-Gear of War 3 world, in February.