Saber Interactive, a Russian developer, are known for including innovative gameplay mechanics in their games. A good example is 2007's TimeShift, in which manipulating time was central to the core experience. Despite this innovation, however, their games tend to not get much attention, let alone unanimous praise; is that about to change with Inversion, in which gravity is at the player's control?
Inversion is a cover based shooter and, if you're familiar with Gears of War, you will find yourself right at home with the controls and general gameplay: right down to the overbearing bulky enemies coming out of the depths of the earth.
The game does offer some unique gameplay in the fact that you can manipulate gravity on both enemies and objects around you. This is more enjoyable to play with in a cooperative game, as you maybe lift enemies while another player then shoots or brings the enemy down.
As far as weapons go, you get to play with an M16 lookalike with a large bayonet, and a shotgun. Later you get a long range rifle, but you pretty much will stick with the M16 the whole game. I guess the developers wanted to direct the player to using more of the gravity mechanics instead.
By using your ‘Gravlink’ - technology provided by the invading alien race, the Lutador - you can launch two different types of gravity pulses or ‘vectors’: Blue, which lunches everything into the air in a stasis field, or Red, which propels everything downwards to the ground - whichever way that may be at the time.
Switching between these gravity affecting abilities can be a bit clumsy at times, and also frustrating when trying to aim objects to throw at targets, as often the objects you pick up will block your view of whatever it is you’re trying to throw the object at.
Visually, Inversion is not too bad, which is not surprising given it's using the Saber3D engine (the same engine which brought us Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary). There are some pop-in and texture issues during the game's many cutscenes, which can get a little distracting at times, but thankfully these issues were less prevalent during gameplay.
One particularly interesting aspect of the visuals is the destructible environments; you will find yourself destroying enemy cover - whether they are behind behind concrete blocks, scaffolding, vehicles, or large rocks - and, once destroyed, you can use the various debris as projectiles using the Gravlink.
The Earth's gravity is becoming less and less stable as you progress through the game, and there are many sections where you will find yourself falling up, left, or right, before attempting to get back into the firefight while the environment is upside down or at an angle. These sections can be somewhat satisfying, and almost nauseating, however they don’t occur very often and not until much later in the game.
Something that really bothered me throughout the experience was the voice acting; either the script was marked ‘sound incredibly bored and over the whole thing’ or they supplied the worst cuts of the recording sessions on the disc. There was literally monotonous tones (from both main characters) through the entire campaign, and because there are so many cutscenes it just amplifies over time.
There are a ton of cutscenes in Inversion, something that's on display right from the start: the first 30 minutes of the game includes about ten minutes of actual gameplay! As an example: A cutscene starts with you being thrown into prison. A ploy between you and a captured soldier will allow you to escape. The cutscene ends; you open the cell door, walk towards a window two cells down, and... another cutscene will play. This happens throughout the whole game; cutscene then a short section of gameplay, then there is a cutscene again.
Inversion's multiplayer offers up eight game modes, including your typical generic Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. There are a few offerings built around the game's gravity mechanics, but only one mode - ‘Grav control’ - really utilises it, with the whole world turning upside down when you earn enough kills in a row. If you want to experience the game with a friend, you can play through the campaign cooperatively, however it's only playable online.
Inversion is at its best when played cooperatively, and the gravity mechanics are built around that fact. So, if you really want to get the best out of the game, I would recommend playing it with friends. Otherwise, Inversion doesn’t offer much beyond Gears of War-inspried gameplay, some hit and miss gravity control mechanics, and far too many poorly executed cutscenes.