If reading the above headline was enough to have you salivating and making a beeline for your nearest store (virtual or otherwise), you might want to stop, mop that drool and read on.
The reason being, that’s only half the truth. Now that we have your attention, yes, Inversion is a Gears of War clone. But it’s saddled with some originality of its own: the game’s protagonist (and his partner) can manipulate gravity. While it isn’t to the exhilarating degree of the superlative Gravity Rush, it is not just a feature meant to fill up a bullet point at the back of the packaging either. In fact, it's quite enjoyable.
Not the best game out there right now
Messing around with gravity in Inversion involves tossing barrels, furniture and assorted rubble at enemies. It also means you can elevate enemies hiding behind cover far above it for easier kills. You can also grab their weapons and use them. Needless to say, while the things you can do with the laws of physics in the game aren’t infinite, they’re more than enough to keep you entertained.
There’s a somewhat concrete reason for this madness of a situation that lets you shoot down hordes of baddies while giving Newton an inferiority complex. You’re David Russell, a cop who looks out of place in a video game and would be more at home in a cheesy 80s police movie; at least, that’s what his clothes and hairstyle tell us. Along with your partner, Leo Delgado, you find out that the city is under attack by a very ugly bunch of human-like creatures known as the Lutadores. Both of you soon get captured, but not before you realize that your wife is dead and your daughter is missing.
As the game progresses, you manage to escape and learn that the city is undergoing a weird transformation. Parts of it fail to follow the laws of gravity, leading to structures and roads being upturned and suspended in mid-air. What’s disappointing is, you’re never clearly told the reason for it. Ever.
From concrete pillars to gigantic buildings, there’s nothing that you cannot raze.
It's as if Inversion’s narrative was left hanging in the air, much like sections of Vanguard city: incomplete and puzzling. This is disappointing because there is a solid potential for weaving a great piece of science fiction. Instead, you’re left with a cobbled-together plot of a guy’s attempt to get his daughter back. There’s a bit of vexation in this as well due to the excessive cut-scenes.
Instead of letting you play through segments of the game before taking the story forward, the developers seem to derive sadistic pleasure by inserting cut-scenes every few minutes. Apparently, it’s really important to let gamers know that you will be squaring off against a bunch of guys with guns every time they take a few steps forward. This ends up making the game feel boring and monotonous when it is actually a decent shooter.
Like we said earlier, Inversion is a Gears of War clone. This is a good thing. The controls are a cinch to master and they’re responsive to boot. Be it snapping to cover or taking aim, you’ll rarely find yourself cribbing whilst gunning down expendable villains. "But what about the cool gravity-altering mechanics?" you ask. Well, they work too; just not as well. In theory, it seems fantastic to be able to fling parts of the environment at your foes, but aiming objects using gravity is counter-intuitive because once you pick something up, it looks a ghoulish shade of white. This makes it next to impossible to ensure a direct hit as it blocks the cross-hairs.
All the gravity-mashing has a trade-off, though - the graphics
Nonetheless, there are other interesting things you can do, such as instantly slaying most soldiers by pressing both bumper buttons at once. The right bumper lets you use low gravity, allowing you to make things float, while the left bumper lets you invoke high gravity, which lets you weigh down anything in your path, pushing them to the ground.
And push you shall - each and every part of the game’s environment is destructible. From concrete pillars to gigantic buildings, there’s nothing that you cannot raze, blow up or batter to the ground. It’s a spectacle of chaos, to say the least. But that is all it remains, simply because in between gunning and running from cover to cover, not once do you feel that the gravity controls are necessary to progress. It seems as if it has been shoehorned into the game in order to make it stand out from the very crowded shooter genre.
All the gravity-mashing has a trade-off, though - the graphics. Barring the lead characters, enemy models look dull, the surroundings look bland and you can’t help but feel that corners were cut in terms of presentation, in addition to the story.
Vague story and run-of-the-mill multiplayer
In spite of the paucity in the looks department, it sports a semi-decent multiplayer suite. There are a wealth of game modes you’re already acquainted with - such as king of the hill, deathmatch and horde. They’re fun in spurts but there’s really nothing to keep you playing beyond the single-player campaign. It’s replete with loading times, clunky animations and most importantly, no one playing it at all. So unless you have a few friends willing to give it a try, you’d be better served not bothering.
With a so-so campaign, lacklustre graphics, vague story and run-of-the-mill multiplayer, Inversion is a game you can safely avoid. It won’t turn your world upside down; it'll nudge you gently. Though, if for some reason, you absolutely must have it, do wait for the prices to drop. As it stands, at Rs. 2,499, there’s no way we can recommend this to even the staunchest of shooter fans.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
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