Inversion is a cover-based first-person shooter from Saber studios, creator of 2007’s Timeshift. Knowing this you can expect a decent shooter with a USP and with Inversion the USP is all about Gravity. Sure you have the standard shotgun, assault rifle and rocket launcher, but what makes Inversion different from the other shooters in today’s market is the gravity pack.
The story sees you play as cop Davis Russell, who along with his partner Leo Deglado, is in the midst of an alien invasion and looking to find Davis’ daughter. Set in the near future, an unknown army of evil enemies called the Lutadores have invaded the Earth and as Davis you struggle to battle this enemy through a rubble-strewn world where Gravity is not always as simple as being up and down.
The character design and overall look and feel of the game (specifically that of the enemy, the Lutadores) is pretty good. The enemy have been designed to have a humanoid looking appearance but the language they speak indicates they are not a local enemy and could be from another planet. Amongst this enemy you have your standard grunts and varying classes of enemy, including bosses.
The one boss that is worth mentioning is the Slave Driver, a fat sloth of a man who has a gravity shield around him. The Slave Driver sends out a wave of mind-controlled humans at you that you need to kill, in order for him to drop his shield and give you the chance to strike an attack. The first Slave Driver I came across was simple, but when you meet more than one, and he sends explosive covered minions at you, taking him down becomes slightly more difficult.
The difficulty of the game is something that really needs to be addressed before I talk more about the game. From the off, Inversion has 3 difficult settings, Low Gravity (easy), Normal Gravity (normal) and High Gravity (hard). If you are tough enough to complete the High Gravity setting you will unlock Black Hole gravity, however this does not have any achievements or trophies attributed to completing it.
When I first booted up the game, I chose the Normal Gravity setting and knew what to expect. There are moments in the game where you cannot rush in like a mad man; the idea is to use the cover. However, when you get to chapter 7 (of the 13 playable chapters) there is a huge difficulty spike that starts off as challenging but quickly becomes infuriating. There were multiple moments in the game where I got stuck on an overpowered enemy or difficult area and wanted to throw the controller through my TV Screen. Luckily for my bank balance, I showed some restraint and didn’t have to buy a new TV.
While the difficulty varies throughout the game, the levels are very linear, as you are guided from A to B of each checkpoint. There are no collectibles and no real exploration needed and this is a bit disappointing for a current gen game when compared to other shooters on the market.
As you travel through each level you are accompanied by Leo. Players have the option to buddy up and use Leo as a multiplayer co-op experience, which is highly recommended, because the AI on this game is awful. I have not experienced such poor AI since playing 2009’s Resident Evil 5. The reason this can be frustrating is because during a boss battle if your partner gets downed you have a set time limit to get him back up. Fail to reach him in time and you die as well. I never got to the point where I let my partner die but trust me, there were moments where I wish I could have done just that and then continued the experience a lone. The last thing you need when hitting a difficulty spike is a downed AI character calling out for help.
The Unique selling point of the gravity shift has both a positive and negative impact on the game. There are sections of the game where you encounter gravity shifts that turn the environment upside down or on its side. This sounds like a novel addition to an FPS, but it does little to change the gaming experience, because you are doing the exact same thing you were doing a minute ago on the ground (as the camera moves with you) as you are now doing on the side of a building or on the ceiling.
The positives to the single player campaign though, and the most notable, is the zero gravity segments where gravity has been lost and you float through the environment using cars and rocks that have been left hanging in the air as cover against the enemy. This happens sporadically and not enough in my opinion, but the way Saber have used this, highlighting the next point to move to is executed incredibly well. You can move around the cover, jump from one piece of rubble to another or use it as cover all very easily.
The idea that Saber have had with the gravity is novel but the gravity pack that lets you shoot enemies into the air and then grab them and either fling them away, throw them into explosives or do a slick melee kill fails to feel new after last year’s phenomenal Bulletstorm from Epic Games, that had a similar mechanic and much stronger execution.
You are able to reverse gravity and send enemies to their knees, which is great, but again does not offer very much. The other option that this low gravity ability has, is that it gives you a shield. Again, this can be very handy in those parts of the game that Saber have decided to make extremely difficult for no reason.
With the solo campaign all covered, it would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the multiplayer aspect of this game. The matchmaking menu and options are great, with a huge amount of variety that players would expect to see in an FPS multiplayer, such as capture the flag, death match, team death match (all with an Inversion type name to differentiate them from other shooters).
It is a shame that with the wide variety and huge amount of challenges to complete in multiplayer, such as weapon and match type challenges that the matchmaking system was awful in allocating me a party. Getting into a party to play Inversion was near impossible and this is a real shame as the maps, varieties and challenges could really add some longevity to the game and make me come back to it. Unfortunately it frustrated me and wanted me to stop playing instead of capturing me and keeping me within the Inversion universe.
In summary, Inversion is a pretty good shooter that is worth being looked at by any fan of the genre. It is an enjoyable playthrough but not something that screams for a repeat performance. It is not a necessity to own but worth a playthrough and unfortunately with a lot of high profile games coming out over the next few months, this could mean it is looked over and could maybe see a resurgence from the bargain bins next year.