Tech News on G4
Down on the upside of 'Inversion'
June 22, 2012
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
Have you ever eaten a lousy-tasting hot dog that was made by someone else and thought to yourself "how did they manage to screw that up?" Saber Interactive's new third-person shooter "Inversion" is kind of like that hot dog.
Inversion borrows heavily from recent shooters - most notably Gears of War - but adds a gravity-focused twist on things, allowing players to do things like lift objects with a Gravlink, walk upside-down across buildings, and take part in midair firefights.
Yet while the game is certainly not terrible, nothing about it holds a lot of weight. Worst of all, the gravity aspect that should set it apart from the countless other shooters on the market simply doesn't do that. The game has its moments, but even the most powerful Gravlink in the universe can't lift Inversion above its inherent mediocrity.
The game has you controlling Davis Russel, a police officer for the fictional Vanguard City. He's a dedicated father who is willing to go to extreme lengths to save his young daughter, as we find out after an alien race invades Earth and begins enslaving humans.
Davis and his partner on the force, Leo Delgado, are doing the rounds during a typical day shift when the aliens invade. The two cops take on several of the human-like baddies during the so-so invasion sequence, but the two are eventually captured, enslaved, and imprisoned in camps created by the aliens.
Following a ludicrous escape sequence - you can be sure the plot for Inversion is one of the worst in a while - Davis and Leo make their way across Vanguard City and beyond in search of Davis' daughter.
What follows is the usual collection of gun battles with an endless swarm of grunts and the occasional boss fight. The developers try desperately to make this game gritty and ever-serious, but it often feels silly and frustrating.
As cool as it sounds to be able to control gravity, Inversion doesn't take advantage of a gameplay element that holds so much potential. You can aim low-gravity shots at enemies, causing them to float in the air for a short time, and while this certainly helps even the odds when you're up against a particularly large wave, it never ceases to look ridiculous seeing these armored foes floating upside-down in the air.
There is also the occasional objective where you need to use gravity to advance, such as lifting a stack of cars off a bridge that needs to be lowered for your co-op partner, but none of it elicits much excitement.
One of the big problems is that Inversion seems even more linear than similar games of its ilk. Having a toy like the Gravlink in an open-world game would probably be spectacular, but in a straightforward shooter, there's very little room to truly play around.
The linear aspect of the game presents itself in many more ways. In one sequence where players are running through a cemetery, everyone is pinned down by an enemy equipped with a Gatling gun while hiding in a fortified building. Try as I might to use cover to get around him and flank him, I was gibbed over and over again.
I was finally forced to give up the flanking manoeuvre and pick up the rocket launcher placed conveniently - and predictably - behind a gravestone that was lined up with the enemy's hiding spot.
Besides the Gravlink, the offensive weapons offered in Inversion are about as generic as you can get. Your main weapon is a Retro Lancer-like machine gun, and you'll also get a sniper rifle, grenades, and the other usual suspects for your arsenal.
Oddly, there were some points in the campaign where ammo suddenly became extremely scarce. I was in the middle of one particularly hairy shootout on a city street and was down to one rocket in my rocket launcher and one grenade. I was running around meleeing enemies in an attempt to scavenge a few bullets for my machine gun. In an action-heavy shooter like this, running out of ammo is nigh-unforgivable.
The game does look really nice, and it's difficult not to admire the battered world around you during breaks in action, but none of the stunning visuals do much for the gameplay. Even when you reach gravity-bending areas where you literally end up walking on the ceilings of skyscrapers, it all doesn't amount to much more than a very brief "oooh" or "aaah".
The voice acting isn't terrible, but the script certainly is. The protagonists deliver wooden lines as the developers attempt to show some character development, but any notion of that is shattered whenever you hear someone yell "kill 'em all!" yet again.
The aliens speak in some kind of quasi-English gibberish that Davis can somehow decipher. I'm guessing he has subtitles turned on, because I sure don't. This alien-speak makes the bad guys seem even more silly.
There is a multiplayer portion for Inversion, with both objective and deathmatch-like gametypes, as well as a co-operative "Horde"-like mode, but at the time of writing, I was unable to connect to any games, despite multiple attempts to connect in all game modes.
Saber Interactive was on the right path with Inversion, but somewhere along the way, something went very wrong. It reminds me of 2011's Red Faction: Armageddon. Players had some fantastic weapons and plenty of destructive environments, but the game was made so linear that it sucked out all the fun of playing around with those weapons. Interestingly, "Armageddon" was a far cry from its critically-acclaimed predecessor, Red Faction: Guerrilla.
As mentioned above, there is a constant stream of shooters being released, and plenty more from months and years past that still hold up. Inversion's campaign may hold your attention if you're desperate for something new, but it's sure to be all but forgotten a year from now.
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.