An underwhelming tale set in the not too distant future, Inversion tells the story of our protagonist Davis Russel (shouldn’t that be reversed?) and his journey to find his daughter, Leila, during an invasion of “other world” beings. Published by Namco Bandai and developed by Saber Interactive (Timeshift, Battle: Los Angeles), Inversion just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be anything better than mediocre. And here is why.
Inversion allows the gamer to utilize a new technology, the gravlink, to take control of the surrounding environment. This new tech comes in handy for our “hero” Davis Russel, a police officer that continues to stay in the line of duty to aid in a resistance against the enemy invaders, The Lutadores. I know what you are thinking, are we fighting an enemy of Mexican wrestlers? No, but perhaps that would have added a bit of fun to the mix. The Lutadores are the invading enemies reminiscent of the Locusts from Gears of War, in that their lairs and means of transportation occur below the city. When setting yourself up against a heavy hitter like Gears of War, it seems you are only setting yourself up for failure.
It is always tough to go up against an (alien?) invasion alone. Russel Davis….er Davis Russel gets a bit of help, or lack of help, from his police force partner, Leo Delgado. Often running into me or getting in my way during battle, Leo offers nothing but continued monotonous voice support with horrible advice and pointers stating the obvious. During one scene, Leo states: “Look, that building wall is broken, looks like we can get by”, in a very blank tone. Furthermore, when considering dialogue, half of the words spoken are by the enemies, in their own fabricated language, while the other half is by the main characters. I found myself preferring the former considering that I did not care what the latter were saying (or could not often hear what they were saying, because the voices would typically sound muffled as if the actors were talking into a pillow). This is a shame, because character models are fairly detailed, yet the voice actors and written script were unable to bring any life or emotion to the physical entity. This leaves the gamer stuck finding that you don’t really care or place any emotional investment into the main characters or their stories. Davis would often try to pull for sympathy from the gamer with cut-scenes and dialogue that usually end in failure on his part while Leo would continue to tell you to “man up”.
Which brings us to our next point. Overall design and gameplay. If you can get past the mediocre story and unoriginal characters, then you have the opportunity to play a game that is just as boring. Controls, movements, and overall gameplay are clunky. Aiming for that Gears of War-esque movement and character design, Inversion falls short of the end concept. Furthermore, upon playing and triggering a cutscene, I noticed many recycled characters. This normally doesn’t bother me too much. However, during one particular cutscene, one portly bald gentleman with a white shirt and glasses was gunned down while attempting to flee his captors. The very next scene shows a prison in which we find two more of the same character design, alive and well in the same cage (triplets?). One positive to overall design were the environments. The environments provide several opportunities to impress. I will admit, scaling the side of a huge skyscraper while a battle ensues below (er…to the side?) on the ground, was a pretty spectacular sight to see. I found myself wanting to watch the battle on the ground from high up so that I wouldn’t have to progress during the game and ruin on of the few likes of the game.
As far as gameplay goes, Inversion is a typical third person shooter with an atypical style. The game sets itself as being unique by playing on the use of gravity as a weapon or battle tactic. This often allows the gamer to scale walls, pick up and throw cars, and lift enemies to allow for an easier kill via the newly introduced weapon, the “Gravlink”. While playing, you find it necessary to truly utilize this weapon considering that guns and firepower feel nerfed and extremely weak. However, the shock wave feature and making heads explode with head shots was surprisingly satisfying. Although the “Gravlink” does inspire some creativity when disposing of enemies, it is not enough to aid in your travels when the difficulty spikes or when going up against a boss battle.
Another issue plaguing Inversion is the odd sense of direction and overall level layout. At one point early in the game, the objective asked to “Explore the streets to find out what is going on.” This allowed me to walk ten feet to which I was already greeted with a cutscene and an “Objective Complete” prompt. Furthermore, one of the early parts of the game results in being captured by the Lutadores (Spoiler alert? Who cares?). You basically have to fight through the underground prisons just to get captured and fight through the exact same level. Repetition to the max.
In conclusion, Inversion does not offer much in the way of story-telling experience. Voice acting and dialogue were abysmal, further ruining the overall gaming experience by not allowing for any emotional investment and leaving the gamer to not care about main characters. Game play was fun on occasion via the “Gravlink” and gravitational manipulation, but still held back by boss battles that spiked in difficulty level. Although I don’t mind a bit of a challenge, these battles were difficult for technical reasons and weak weaponry. Environments in the city when scaling buildings was a great sight to see, but does not distract the fact that this game seemed rushed and lacked that extra touch on easy detail. Inversion might provide a bit of enjoyment via rental, but do not allow the gravitational pull to open your wallet for the $60 on this one.