Monday, June 25, 2012

Inversion review

Original review link

Player(s): 1
Extra Features: Online Coop (2 players), Online Multiplayer (2-12 players), Leaderboards

Inversion is a cover-based third person shooter developed by Saber Interactive and published by Namco Bandai games. The game features shooter gameplay very similar to Gears of War and tries to distinguish itself with an added control of gravity to manipulate objects and enemies as well as the environment. Your world literally turns upside-down or sideways at times while playing. While the thought of having gravity at your disposal has much promise, Inversion never does truly have any memorable moments that make me think back about using the gravity to my advantage. It never does have any high points throughout its gameplay - the game runs at a constant average from beginning to end.

Inversion follows the story of Davis Russel and his partner Leo Delgado. When Vanguard City is invaded by a group known as the Lutadores, these two cops must work together to find Davis' daughter and save the world. Inversion plays just like the usual cover-based shooter gameplay found in Gears of War from the start. Focus is placed on taking cover to avoid gunfire and returning fire on enemies that blast your character from a distance. The overall shooter gameplay is just as responsive as Gears of War overall and the game has many weapons to choose from.

One very nice part about Inversion is that the game continually gives you access to new weapons as the game progresses. Shotguns, assault rifles, plasma rifles, gatling guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and a few other weapons will be available as you continue to play. The guns all have an overall satisfying feel to them. The shotguns allow a player to mangle each enemy from up close per shot and assault rifles allow a player to blow off heads or mangle an enemy with constant firepower. The overall gore in the game adds a lot to the overall experience of combat with weapons and gravity controls. It's not overly gory, but it's just enough to give a sense of satisfaction per kill.

The alien invaders can control gravity through the power of their gravlink backpacks. Eventually Davis and Leo get a hold of a gravlink and are able to use gravity to their advantage. They upgrade their gravity powers as the game progress. By the end of the game, both characters will have access to low gravity and high gravity powers. Low gravity allows a player to fire a beam that creates a vortex of gravity in the targeted area. All light objects will float in that vortex and a player can grab floating objects and toss them at enemies. Enemies can also be shot with low gravity to make them float out of their cover areas. They can be grabbed and tossed just like an object as well.

High gravity will also be at a player's disposal later in the game. This allows a player to weight down objects and enemies with a shot from the gravlink. A red vortex will weight down all objects and enemies in the targeted area. Against enemies, this acts as a more of a temporary stun to keep them in one place. Against objects, high gravity is mainly used for puzzle solving by weighting down objects. A shield can also be placed around your character by pressing the left bumper button through the use of high gravity.

The environments of the game have many zero gravity areas where a player can float in air and hop over to floating chunks of debris in the zero gravity zone. A player must take cover from attacking enemies in these zero gravity areas by getting behind floating chunks of debris and firing back at the enemies. Objects in the zero gravity zones can be freely grappled and thrown through the use of the gravlink at any time since the objects are already floating.

In some areas, the characters will have to enter a vector shift by stepping into a portal. When this happens, the wall to the side becomes the floor as the two characters are dropped on the wall and their whole world rotates to the change gravity. After the change, everything goes back to normal as if the characters were back on the normal ground. One unique aspect of this is that you'll have to keep an eye on the walls and ceilings for enemies that will be camping out above your character. While this feature is a nice addition, it is used far too little to ever be really noticed much. It's literally only used near the beginning of the game and then a few times toward the end.

All the gravity features sound so great on paper until you realize the way they control. The controls are the worst problem with high and low gravity and zero gravity areas. With high and low gravity, you must constantly push down on the right thumbstick in order to change between the two gravity options. A vortex must always be created with a shot from the gravlink with low gravity before any object or enemy can be snatched. The controls are not near as easy as a game like Psi-Ops with its psi powers. The worst part of the high and low gravity controls are during boss fights or any intense fights where you must react quickly. Having to go through so much button pressing and waiting for gravity shots to kick into gear can lead to frustration in later areas.

Taking cover and moving in the zero gravity areas can be hard due to the controls as well. While jumping from platform to platform, you must target each platform and jump to it. There will be times where your targeting cursor will quickly jump to a distant platform and then your character will slowly leap toward that far away platform and be forced to suffer damage if any enemies are shooting. To move around to the other side of a platform, you must double tap the left analog. Trying to double tap in the way that your character is facing while under heavy firepower can be frustrating when the camera shifts after jumping as new enemies move out and attack.

Inversion's environments are all highly detailed like many other shooters. The gravity effects make debris and other particles float in the air in each vortex. There are a few rooms and buildings early on that can be totally ripped apart with gunfire. Walls will fall and buildings will collapse in many of the early city surroundings. As already mentioned, the gore in the game is quite pleasing as well. You can toss heavy objects at enemies and watch them splatter or perform finishing moves on enemies that are caught in your gravity vortexes.

The game's overall sound is pleasing, especially when it comes to gravity and weapon sound effects. Shotguns carry a big booming noise, which I always enjoy. Voice acting feels very dry and emotionless when it comes to the characters in the game. Inversion's two lead characters feel so very one-dimensional all the way through the game and they never do truly convey much emotion. I honestly never cared for any character in the game because none of them stood out. On top of all of this, the game's story doesn't have any high points. It never did feel climactic at any time. At one point where a major plot event unfolds, the main character's voice acting and dialogue totally ruined the experience. The actual ending had me very unsatisfied as well.

The main story offers online coop play where one player can take control of Leo. The game offers no local play. The online play for campaign has no random search function. You have to know a friend or any other contact that has the game in order to play the main campaign with online coop play. So basically, you can't just freely jump into a game with a random player at any time. The coop campaign game has to be perfectly planned with someone you know or someone you meet online.

The game has 8 online modes as well. It has the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch along with Hourglass, Assault, King of Gravity, Grav Control, Grav Slaughter and Survival. The majority of these modes are all about killing other players by yourself or in a team. Sometimes gravity powers are focused on like in Grav Slaughter and in Grav Control, by gaining kill streaks, players can activate vector changes to change the overall arena - the wall becomes the floor. The Survival mode is one of the better online modes to me since I prefer coop play as opposed to deathmatch. This mode allows four players to team up and battle waves of AI enemies and bosses.

Inversion has some very solid shooter gameplay, but the gravity controls and overall control of just about any added feature other than the shooter gameplay weight it right back down. The gravity controls can help for making battles easier, but overall shooting can get the job done just as well. The actual shooting still takes front seat to all the gravity controls and the gravity features are never truly recognized as much as they could be with easier controls and more areas that need their uses. There are a few puzzles ever now and then that require high gravity and weaker enemies are taken down faster when in groups with high gravity, but other than that, I never even used high gravity often except to rack up kills for the achievement associated with it. The game has many boss fights in it but many of them are repeated at least once. The boss fights are a nice break from the usual gameplay, but the Slave Driver boss fights gets repetitive after the third time of fighting one as the game progresses.

Inversion is not a bad game, but it's literally turned on its side and one side is good and one side is bad. The good does slightly outweigh the bad, but the game feels so average all the time in the campaign mode. If you're a fan of shooters and looking for a decent shooter, Inversion might be a game that you will enjoy, but for everyone else, this game is easily as forgettable as the two lead character's overall outfits and looks - basically, it's just an Average Joe shooter with gravity controls that could have helped it distinguish itself from other shooters... but the controls bring it down too much.

The Good:

+ Great shooter gameplay
+ Gravity powers
+ Many online multiplayer modes

The Bad:

- The controls for gravity features weight down its usefulness
- The overall story and characters are forgettable
- No real high points in campaign


Inversion has some nice shooter gameplay but when it comes to controlling gravity, it's little world is suddenly turned upside-down.

1 comment:

Berserker said...

In an attempt to add more posts to my main blog, I'll start posting some of my reviews here. I'll most likely post my reviews for action games at least.