Inversion is one of those games that you really hope works. From the outset, you are promised guns, gravity manipulation, and epic battles. The sad reality is, often promises don’t come through. This is one of those times.
The game opens with you, Davis Russel, and your ever so stereotypical partner, Leo Delgado, strapped to a pole, ready to meet your impending doom. In a scene ripped straight from Mad Max, the baddies are dressed like overzealous Native American meet Future Soldier types. It mixes a grungy sort of tech, with the imagery of an earthy culture. At any rate, you are strapped in and they are blabbing on about killing you or something, can’t really tell. The way they talk sounds like if you shoved half a cup of peanut butter in your three-year-old sibling’s mouth and punched him. You can’t hear a damn real word anywhere.
During the initial cutscene, your character is voicing over, giving you the rundown (sort of) of what is happening. There are a couple of flashback sequences, supposedly to get you excited during this intro. In these flashbacks, you take control of your main character in a few VERY brief action sequences showing off some of the gravity effects and destructible environments. Flash to present time and you see one of the Lord of Flies-looking guys swing a nasty looking edged weapon at you and… oh, well you will have to wait because now you are walking out of a police station on a warm day with your best bud. Below, the screen shows “38 hours earlier.” It’s a half-decent start, if a little disjointed.
The gameplay continues this disjointed approach. I can’t count the number of times you have control of your character only to have the game snatch control back out of your hands and show another cutscene. As you progress, you are shown little glimpses of objects and bodies floating in mid-air, and you find out your wife is dead with your daughter is missing. There’s your story. It is now up to you and your partner to find what happened to your daughter. Eventually, you get captured and are whisked away to the Lutadores’ hideout.
This “hideout” is a massive underground mining operation which no one seemed to notice being built under the city. You are forced to wander around, looking at the surroundings while your partner asks some really insightful stuff like “how long do you think they’ve been here?” or “what do you think they want?” After a short time, I just turned down the volume. Between this goober’s questions and the Lutadores grunting and slurping words to me, it was all I could take before I started smashing my head with a controller.
The Lutadores beat you and shove you until you get down to a small cave and there is a massive Lutadore snarling at you. Then they just leave after strapping the game’s gimmick to you, which are Gravity Packs. No explanation is given why they have you put them on, and even your guys think it is odd. “Why do you think they put these on us?” Oh dear, the plot thickens.
Anyway, what you are now forced to endure is another twenty-minute tutorial on all the neat things you can do with the pack. You can make things lighter with the blue energy, or make them crushingly heavy with the red. With the red power, you can pull archways down to make bridges or slam things down onto unsuspecting enemies.
Blue will let you hoist things in the air and projectile throw them (see gravity gun in Half Life 2). Don’t get me wrong, some of this is really cool, but it just doesn’t seem useful. There are no puzzles to solve using the gravity gun. None at all. It is simply another tool for you to use and play with as you progress. So, after this run through with the packs, you are thrust into a fight with a sleek, flying robot. Yup, all the grungy, low tech stuff you just walked through, and now a robot straight from the shiny, sleek future comes busting up from the ground to kill you. After you win the fight (and you WILL win), the four Lutadore come in farting and grunting and you surrender. Only four? You just killed a damn flying robot. So at this point, I was left wondering if this was STILL the tutorial. Again, YUP. After getting taken back to base camp, you then have to escape and begin the campaign to find your daughter.
Now technically the game isn’t really a waste. Graphically, it holds its own. Lots of imagery borrowed unapologetically from Gears of War, complete with hulking baddies dressed with lit-up (but pointless) garments. Most of the environments are truly destructible, including your cover. It was sort of neat the way you could eat away at almost anything with bullets to kill your attackers, but at the same time you keep thinking “aren’t I behind three feet of concrete? Why is it falling apart like balsa wood?” It does that, believe me!
Level design is very mundane, but acceptable considering the setting. Don’t even consider flanking or outsmarting the Lutadore, as each level is funnel designed to force you into a cover-shoot scenario, much like Killzone or Uncharted. You get a sense of this big world, but if you try to go elsewhere in it, you will find the bumpers smacking you back into the funnel. The gravitational element works mostly because of this funneling. You will be vector shifted at times, fighting on the walls or ceilings but the camera doesn’t rotate. So picture seeing you and your partner walking upside down shooting. Neat, but doesn’t fit with the tech. How come the Lutadore can shift gravity to make you walk on walks, but you can’t do it to yourself?
There is a multiplayer component to the game too. Your partner can be controlled by a friend for some co-op action. And there is an online multiplayer aspect as well. Don’t expect anything grand, as it is comprised of the maps and areas from the main campaign and you only ever get three weapons. Wheee… In this day and age of gaming, maps and upgradeable (or at least more than 3) weapons is a must if you want people to play online. Don’t expect to spend much time in this mode of play.
In the end, you will likely finish the game in about seven to nine hours, but you’ll still feel like you didn’t play it. It is that forgettable. My advice, rent before buying, but do at least give it a rent