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Inversion Review (PS3)

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating

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Inversion Cover

Inversion Cover

Image © Namco Bandai
"Inversion" is a generic "Gears of War" clone that tries to add something new to the subgenre by playing with gravity but only ends up weighed down by its bells and whistles. There's shockingly little to the entire experience other than a few nifty concepts that were woefully underdeveloped and some very basic shooter thrills. "Inversion" may have connected four or five years ago but even then the disappointing graphics, glitchy mechanics, and numbing repetition would have made it a non-event. In 2012, it's looks even more archaic.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Namco Bandai
  • Developer: Saber Interactive< br>
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Sci-fi Shooter
  • Pros: Clever Concept, Some Neat Devices
  • Cons: Repetition, Weak Graphics, Poor Enemy A.I., Lackluster Storytelling

On paper, "Inversion" sounds like a slam dunk for fans of sci-fi shooters. Even before a second of actual gameplay, "Inversion" feels familiar. The world has been invaded by an alien race (again) and your family has been kidnapped (again). We've been here before in many beloved sci-fi games. However, shooter games with cliched storytelling are common and forgivable if the mechanics and actual gameplay can provide the excitement missing from the narrative. Such is not the case with "Inversion," a game that fall into nearly every single one of the common traps of its genre.

Gameplay

Inversion

Inversion

Image © Namco Bandai

Aliens have come to Earth and former police officer Davis Russel could be the last man standing between them and the safety of mankind. After his daughter is abducted and he's turned into a slave himself, Russel escapes and teams up with other soldiers trying to save the world. Of course, such a mission requires a few traditional weapons but the developers of "Inversion" try to play with their remarkably generic template by giving Russel and his enemies access to something called the Gravlink. Wearing a device on his back that needs fuel cells found in combat to recharge, Russel can manipulate gravity.

The Gravlink technology is conceptually sound but practically frustrating. Russel can use it to throw enemies into the air and pull them from cover (the most common use) or even grab barrels, cars, etc. and toss them at the enemy. As the game goes on, Russel gains increased Gravlink powers and can increase or decrease gravity in a limited area. Increasing it might bring down some girders on an enemy. Decreasing it sends shielded enemies flying for a clean shot.

Sadly, and this is the greatest flaw of "Inversion," the design of the Gravlink is not very adventurous. You can only bring down certain things -- the environment is disappointingly unrefined -- and barrels and cars are conveniently placed for combat usage. It's not adaptable to individual gameplay as much as just another series of linear events to follow. The same goes for levels designed around flying through zero gravity areas. Sounds neat? Once again, it's just moving from point A to point B to point C. You may as well be running and the lack of freedom of gameplay in a world of zero gravity is even more frustrating.

Most of the shooter combat in "Inversion" is pretty standard fare. Find cover, pop up, aim, shoot. The targeting is downright glitchy (the scope on long range rifles is particularly ridiculous) and the enemy A.I. is ludicrous. Guys pop up out of cover like targets in a shooting gallery. They don't flank. They'll even wait for you to reload at times. I sat and watched an enemy who had run towards me stand in a doorway while I reloaded. That's not acceptable in 2012. And the boss battles are remarkably simple and not memorable.

Is there any reason to play "Inversion"? There is competitive multiplayer and co-op play and hardcore fans of the genre may find some simple thrills in popping heads off enemies. There's also a point halfway through where Russel finds pools of light that invert the world allowing walls to become floors and vice versa. While it's another underdeveloped concept, it's at least a little neat to watch the world turn on its side as you progress through a level.

Graphics & Sound

"Inversion" looks ugly. The first "Resistance" game was a more accomplished vision of a world invaded by aliens and when one compares this title visually to recent similar experiences like "Gears of War 3" or "Killzone 3," it fails miserably. The character design, the enemies, the generic levels -- it's all stuff you've seen before and seen done with more craftsmanship. The sound is serviceable but not memorable.

Bottom Line

Inversion

Inversion

Image © Namco Bandai
I was kind of psyched for "Inversion" given the fact that I'm a huge fan of the "Resistance" franchise and thought the blend of alien sci-fi with gravity-based tricks could make for a really fun time. "Inversion" isn't quite the opposite of fun but it's close enough. Nearly every complaint of the genre -- repetition, boring design, faulty mechanics, simple gameplay, lackluster storytelling -- can be levied at "Inversion," forcing it to crash under the weight of its shortcomings.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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