What has happened with shooters in 2012? I mean, there are so many and yet, a lot of them are BAD. Let’s start with Syndicate, a few cool ideas, but overall a bland, typical futuristic-looking shooter. Then we have Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, a rather clunky, glitchy, and unenjoyable third person shooter that was possibly even more forgettable than Syndicate. Granted, games like Binary Domain and Mass Effect 3 picked up the slack and are the best shooters that I have played this year, with Mass Effect 3 being one of the top 5 best games this year so far. Even Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, while suffering from a lot of shooter issues like a forgettable single player mode that’s short, has an incredible customization mode and multiplayer mode. I guess you can say shooters this year have been a bit of a mixed bag. So then, what chance does Namco’s Inversion have? I remember seeing an article about this game back in 2009 and was interested, since the main advertisement for this game was that you could control gravity and fight on ceilings and on walls. I then didn’t hear anything about it until two years later in 2011 when they finally showed their first trailer and it looked promising. Inversion was developed by Saber Interactive, whose claims to fame were Time Shift, the downloadable Battle: Los Angeles, and their game engine being used in the Halo Anniversary game. What could possibly go wrong?
The game starts you out in a peaceful fictional city called Vanguard where you play as two protagonists. The first one is named Davis Russel, a 28-year-old cop with a wife and daughter. The other is Leo Delgado who is also a cop and Davis’s next-door neighbor. One day, while driving back to Davis’s home, the city they live in starts to rumble and break apart, with pieces of the city floating in the air. It turns out an alien force known as the Lutadores are invading and enslaving the human race using some kind of gravity technology. It is up to you, as Davis and Leo, to save the world and the human race. Let’s get this out of the way; the story is about one of the blandest and forgettable stories of 2012. Bland characters and bad guys bog down the game’s story. The Lutadores look like beta versions of Gears of War villains, and the variety of them in the game is extremely small. Plus, the story takes WAY TOO MANY moments and ideas from Gears of War 1&2. Play both games back-to-back and you will be surprised how much they took from the Xbox franchise. I’m not even a huge fan of Gears of War, and I’m insulted that this game copies so much from one of the more popular shooter franchises.
The gameplay is your typical third-person shooter, but with a somewhat interesting gimmick. As you play through the game, you gain the ability to control gravity. By the end of the game, you will be able to pick up stuff, send characters flying, and even crush enemies using said gravity. The potential for this mechanic can be seen in a few areas, like where you float in the air to grab onto objects to propel yourself to another area of the game. Along the way, you will pick up different kinds of guns, like the default machine gun that has a huge bayonet that looks more like the chainsaw gun from Gears of War. The gravity mechanic can also help produce makeshift cover when cover is sometimes hard to come by. There is a two-player co-op mode that can be played online or offline, and a multiplayer mode that is about as typical as multiplayer modes can get. Overall, the game takes about 5 hours to beat and there just isn’t that much to the Inversion package. It’s just a typical third-person shooter package that really has that one mechanic going for it.
How does the presentation hold up? Not very well at all. It’s not terrible looking, but it isn’t very original looking either. You will be going through the same drab areas A LOT and the areas are not memorable. The music is just, well, meh. It’s not very good and it doesn’t seem that a lot of effort was put into it. The voice acting doesn’t hold up well either, with the voice actors not putting a whole lot into their performances. Sure they are trying, but I doubt they were giving their fullest.
I’m sorry to make this a negative review, but this game has a lot of problems. I already talked about the presentation and story being bland and forgettable, so let’s move onto what other problems this game has. While the gravity mechanic is very cool, the problem with it is that it isn’t fully fleshed out. This is truly a cool game mechanic, but all of the possibilities that come with it are thrown out the window. I mean, yeah, there are moments of awesomeness, but they are VERY few and VERY far between. Your partner AI is decent at the beginning since he does KILL enemies, but later on, he becomes brain dead and it just gets tedious when there is a huge unfair spike in difficulty later on in the game. The boss variety is a joke. It’s almost as bad as Splatterhouse from 2010. The bosses you fight are basically the same throughout the entire game, but get a little layer of tedium added onto them. When critics point out how similar this game is to Gears of War, they are not kidding. I swear, I was shocked to see how many scenes it rips right out of Gears of War, and it’s just mind-blowing that they were this lazy to do this. It’s like when you play Dark Void and you realize some scenes were taken right out of Half Life 2. I mean, could Starbreeze not copy other shooters that are BETTER than Gears of War. Granted, Gears of War is not a bad franchise, but I could see Inversion taking its ideas from other games like Uncharted, Mass Effect, or Vanquish. I also found a few graphical glitches, but they are not as bad as say, Risen 2. I think one of the biggest problems though comes in a teasing moment in the game. Early on you get full gravity-controlling abilities, and then all of those abilities are taken away from you. It is just like in Alter Echo, since the same thing happens in that game, and it’s a terrible design decision. The other big problem is due to the level design not taking advantage of the mechanic, and basically playing this game more like a painfully average shooter than something truly unique.
Overall, this game feels like a budget title. The company easily did not put their fullest into this game. It shouldn’t feel like a budget title because of how long they had to make this game. I mean, it isn’t the worst game of 2012 since Syndicate is much worse, but this game comes close to being one of the worst. Its ideas are not fully fleshed out, the design of the game can be tedious, and it’s just bland and forgettable. It does have offline co-op so if you do plan on renting it, bring a friend so you don’t have to deal with brain-dead AI, but I’d recommend picking up Binary Domain and Mass Effect 3 over this game. I just wish this game was better, but as it stands, it’s one of the most disappointing games of 2012. Definitely worth at least one rental, but otherwise, skip it if you haven’t already.
This game gets a 5 out of 10