Gravity. Ever since Sir Isaac Newton sat under an apple tree man has been fascinated with it. Whether it’s been trying to find out if a bullet dropped from your hand will hit the ground at the same time as a bullet fired from a gun at the same height (which it will by the way) or whether it’s been trying to defy it by flying. It is a force which is definitely there and one which we cannot break.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be able to control gravity and flip the world on it’s head? Well that is something which Namco Bandai’s new game Inversion promises to let you do, however it doesn’t quite live up to it’s promises.
Inversion sees you playing as an ordinary cop, young father and husband David Russel who alongside his partner Leo Delgado are driving peacefully along one day on their way to see David’s wife and daughter, so that they can give his daughter her birthday present, when all of a sudden the city is invaded by an unknown enemy – which you later find out are called the Lutadore – and together you must rise up to heed the call of duty and save the world. Yes it really is as clichéd as it sounds.
As the invasion unfolds around them David quickly realises he must get back to his apartment to see if his family is okay. Of course by the time they get to his apartment his family is missing. So together they go on a mission to take down the Lutadore and get David’s daughter back. Starting the game in the middle of the city means you’ll be able to see buildings collapse around you and civilians running away from the Lutadore, which is all worth seeing and certainly makes you realise that the city is a living breathing place full of people just going about their daily business. That is of course until the Lutadore destroy everything and start capturing civilians, forcing them to mine out tunnels for their base of operations.
Quite early on in the game, after you get captured, You are given a device by the Lutadore which enables you to manipulate gravity either by lifting objects up or pulling them down, and you can use this device to lift enemies out of cover, or to simply create cover for yourself to hide behind. The Lutadores have also discovered a way to turn the world upside down so the ceiling becomes the floor which adds a cool dynamic by making you look for enemies not just in front of you but also 360 degrees around you, which does all seem quite alien at first, but you soon get used to it and you’ll soon have no problem in shooting enemies who are effectively upside down.
You can probably gather from that last paragraph that Inversion is at it’s heart, a cover based shooter. In fact the cover system is ripped straight from Gears of War, but that isn’t the only game Namco seem to have stolen ideas from, as the entire game plays exactly like Army of Two, even making you and your team mate work together to get over certain obstacles and work out puzzles, all of this is easily achieved just by standing in the right place and pressing the X button. There is also some parts of the game which are in zero gravity, which clearly gets its inspiration from Dead Space, again the controls for moving in zero gravity are very simple, just aim at where you need to go and press the A button. However, as simple as the controls are, they’re not all mapped to the controller particularly well, for example, the button to reload is the Y button and the sprint button is the A button making it very hard to sprint and reload without needing extra fingers which can obviously lead to much annoyance and cause you to die.
It’s not just the controls which are awkward and clunky either, the movement of your character also looks and feels very awkward and everything just feels like it’s heavy and incredibly unresponsive which for a game which centres around controlling gravity just doesn’t seem right. Just moving around behind cover feels horrible. You may think then that moving around in zero gravity would be simple and easy for your character but that’s not always the case as sometimes the platform you need to float to is not always easy to see and once you have seen it, it can be hard to position yourself in the right place so you can press the relevant button to allow you to float there. But even when you do manage to float to the right place, it doesn’t really feel like your in zero gravity as your character just feels slow and again, unresponsive.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Lutadore’s are the enemy you’ll be fighting in this game. And they are an enemy which you will be seeing a lot of! There seem to be a countless horde of them all ready to pounce on you as you go round the next corner, and that is usually a good thing, after all I like to shoot enemies in the face (in a video game I hasten to add) as much as the next person. But in Inversion, it seems that Namco only came up with about 3 different enemies and you are constantly fighting the same enemy over and over again which just gets very repetitive and boring, even the bosses are the same! You genuinely have to fight the same boss 3 different times! And that boss doesn’t even change attack styles and the way to beat him doesn’t change either! Which although each boss battle does get a little harder, it still just feels like your going through the motions a little bit. Speaking about the difficulty, about halfway through the game the difficulty suddenly gets turned up to 11! and it all becomes really quite hard, and even on the easiest setting you’ll find yourself staring at a game over screen more times than you really want to, and thanks to the checkpoints being just that little bit too far apart, having to redo large portions of the game again.
Most of this review so far has been fairly negative but it’s not all bad. Inversion is still good fun to play but only probably for short gaming sessions, it’s unlikely you’ll want to sit down and play it for more than about an hour at a time. Another good reason to play the game is just to watch buildings collapse! As – believe me when I say this – it looks amazing! Think Battlefield 3 but a tiny bit better and you get an idea of what collapsing buildings look like in Inversion, they really are that good!
So although Inversion promises so much, it very rarely delivers. With more clichés than a bad B movie and clunky controls to boot, alongside poor and heavy movement and just a general lack of polish, Inversion is probably a game best left for the rental market.
Review Score : [starreview tpl=16]
Namco Bandai provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy of Inversion.