As a perfectly adequate way to spend your time, Inversion fits the bill. The plot is stuck spinning wheels and never really going anywhere, the controls are straight-up Gears of War copy and paste, and the bosses can be frustratingly difficult, but when Inversion works, it really works. The game is worth checking out, but go in with expectations fairly low.
- Messing with gravity can be tons of fun.
- Great looking particle effects and lots of destructible environments.
- Solid control, even if it's not original.
- Not an original bone in its body; the game is equal parts Gears of War and Dead Space 2.
- Extreme difficulty spikes during boss encounters.
- Navigation system is never that great on telling you where to go.
Play Inversion for even two minutes and the parallels between it and big brother Gears of War become transparently obvious. It's not just that Inversion is a cover-based third-person shooter, it's that Inversion is a cover-based third-person shooter with a roadie run, guns that have giant knife bayonets, a Hispanic partner, almost identical icons for movement in cover, and freaking holes in the ground that spawn enemies which are closed by throwing a grenade into them. So yeah. It's Gears of War starring normal-sized people.
Inversion of War? Gears of Inversion?
There are also gravity-shifting segments that feel reminiscent of Prey, and free-floating gunfights with controls ripped from Dead Space 2. These are by far the most interesting moments in Inversion. Surprise! A game about gravity going upside-down is coolest when it messes with gravity! But the fact that these portions of the game are genuinely fun is why it's all the more a shame that things constantly revert back to playing Gears of War without monsters.
That's not to say shamelessly copying another game automatically makes the copy bad. Darksiders is the best M-rated Legend of Zelda you'll ever play. Kratos and Dante will not be fighting it out over who gets to wield the next outrageously large, legendary weapon. Such games can co-exist, and newcomers can even find their rightful place on many a gamer's shelf. And while Inversion deserves to be played, it's honestly a toss-up as to whether or not you'll want to own it.
Me No Want Complex Story!
In Inversion, you play Russel Davis, a police officer in Vanguard City. One day, invaders start shooting up the place and gravity turns on its head. The invaders are called Lutadores – no, that is not a joke – and these distinctly human marauders look like someone blended Borderlands with Bulletstorm. They speak in broken English and are kidnapping children. It's Davis' mission to rescue his daughter from these savages, though what he's rescuing her from and why is never explained.
It's also never explained what the “Inversion” is, or who the Lutadores really are. In fact, there's really not a whole lot to gleam from the poor scriptwriting or shoddy voice acting, so if you're hoping for a game with engaging story and characters, move along. There are cool moments to be sure, but nothing ever really pans out or gets explored. You're just Russel Davis, out to save his daughter from the bad guys. Who are bad.
The biggest letdown with Inversion's story is that even it doesn't seem to know what's going on. There's a main villain introduced in the opening moments of the game, but you won't hear or see him again until the final chapter. The pot-bellied slave driver makes a better antagonist; at least his motives are clear, and you fight him several (frustrating) times throughout the game.
No Boots, No Armor, No Health
Inversion starts out ludicrously easy. Weapons take down less-armored Lutadoes in a handful of hits, and there are plenty of chest-high walls to take cover behind. As you progress however, you'll realize that Davis is never going to think that replacing his t-shirt and jeans with armor is a good idea, and that's going to lead to some extremely painful, annoying firefights.
Particularly when it comes to boss battles, Inversion can be downright maddeningly difficult. I spent the better part of three hours trying to beat a single boss roughly halfway through the game. Not an exaggeration. The infuriating part is that the boss wasn't difficult because he was truly challenging, but because he threw cheap one-hit kill moves at me non-stop, while swarms of smaller enemies surrounded me and spawned throughout the fight. These smaller enemies, it should be noted, were also sometimes capable of one-hit kills, or at the most, two swings with their melee weapons.
The game never felt like it was actually trying to be difficult in this manner. More like there was a desperate need to lengthen the playtime by introducing trial-and-error style boss fights and mini-boss fights sprinkled with a heaping handful of dumb luck. And yeah, they certainly made me grit my teeth, but I tell you what: there were few moments more satisfying than seeing that boss topple.
Reverse Your Expectations
Inversion isn't going to make you run to your nearest game store. It isn't going to keep you playing multiplayer (which has almost no participants) long into the wee hours of the morning. It's not going to be something you brag to your friends, “You just have to see this new game!” It's a completely un-original, poorly-written mess at times. But at other times... at those precious few moments where Inversion works... it really does work. And it'll put a smile on your face.