When Namco Bandai announced Inversion back in October of 2009, it was essentially a sleeper announcement that didn’t turn many heads. In fact, a lot of gamers most likely still are unaware this game even exist. Pay attention folks, because this game is one hell of a time.
Inversion is a sc-fi third person cover based shooter that focuses on the manipulation of gravity. Prior to my hands on demo I was presented with yesterday, I had zero interest in the game and never even attempted to watch the trailers. Thankfully my time with the game has convinced me that Inversion has a lot of potential to become something great. From the very start of the demo Inversion left me with a big Red Faction vibe, the environments, color palette and most of all, the destructible environments. The game however plays nothing like any previous Red Faction titles. The main character, which I was never given a name or reasons why him and his partner are present at their currently location, has a device strapped to his back easily giving him control over gravity and using it to his advantage.
This device has two modes, High-G and Low-G, which can easily be switched with a simple click of the right analog stick. Since the game focuses heavily on manipulating gravity, you will be using this device quite a bit and often rely on it to save your life. When the device is red, you’ve activated High-G. While activated, a simple press of the LB will send a “gravity ball” soaring through the air and can impale enemies. One shot will bring them to the ground, and two shots will cause so much force upon the foe that their body parts will simply pop off. You can also use High-G to bring objects crashing down, or destroy parts of a bridge by ripping the boards out from beneath it.
With Low-G, you can do quite a few different things. For starters, by shooting a ball of Low-G you can make enemies float within the air, bring up objects such as barrels to fling at your enemies, or grab the enemies themselves and send them flying. It’s also useful for bringing up body parts from fallen enemies to ensure they’re actually dead. Another cool feature is you can use Low-G on a scorching pit of lava granting you nice little balls of lava to throw around. The demo also offered a point where I was in Zero-G’s but unfortunately it was only for a brief moment and I was unable to accomplish anything while in it.
Since Inversion is a third person cover based shooter, the shooting mechanics are an obvious point of interest. The controls for Inversion are rather simple but they can feel a little clunky at times. While I didn’t have problems popping in and out of cover shooting enemies in the head, the aiming felt a bit stiff to me. It starts off slow and the longer you hold the right analog stick in the direction you want to aim, it starts to speed up which completely throws me off. I was able to try out a couple of different weapons but the gatling gun was easily my most favorite. Walking with that big fucking gun made me feel in control as I ripped apart the flesh of my enemies with a few bullets. The gunplay if fine and works great, but don’t expect anything over the top or innovative.
I briefly mentioned a partner before, which was present in the demo but I wasn’t actually able to control him or issue orders in any way which was a little disappointing. For most of the demo I completely forgot my partner even existed to the point where I kept popping off shots thinking he was an enemy. Thankfully, Inversion offers drop-in, drop-out online co-op as well as 16 player competitive multiplayer.
Easily the coolest thing about Inversion is the level design. At a certain point you will reach a dead end, where it looks like the level just breaks off randomly. By taking a peek over to the right or left, you will notice a new part of the level that is on the wall sideways. Not only that, but enemies will be present and will open fire. Manipulating gravity can bring you some fun here. Shooting a few balls of High-G will give you the illusion of the enemies being smashed onto the ceiling, when they’re really on flat ground in which you need to use a portal to reach them.
Any time you come to this point in a level, there will be a bright glowing blue portal. By activating it, your screen will flip and you will be teleported down into the action where you were once shooting at the ceiling. These portals are spread throughout the level so you wont -at least in the demo- be constantly flipping back and forth giving you one hell of a headache.
Inversion has a lot of good things going for it from what I experienced. While not much innovation is to be found here, the core mechanics of the game feel natural and flow together quite nicely. Which is great because you don’t feel like random features are added in just to make the game seem cooler than it really is. Inversion also has some gorgeous visuals, especially considering the demo I played was on the Xbox 360. That, and the game has a release date of February 2012.
While Inversion is quite a ways off, it already shaping up into a great game. There’s much development time left, so it will be interesting to see how the game is handled and what improvements and changes will be made over the course of the next 7 months. I can’t say I’m sold on Inversion yet, but it has sparked my interest and the demo gave me a reason to keep an eye on the game. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the game, you can view the E3 2011 trailer below.