I often say that first impressions are everything, but with Inversion I implore you to ignore that statement. Last year, I got to tackle both the single player and multiplayer sides of Inversion at preview events and honestly, I was a little underwhelmed. Heading to play the most recent build of the single player campaign from the beginning last week, I wasn’t overly optimistic, but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a highly enjoyable action title.
Inversion follows Davis Russel and Leo Delgado, two cops just going about their daily routine when a race of creatures known as the Lutadore invade Earth and quickly proceed in making everything just that little bit untidy. You know, collapsed buildings, dead people, messed up gravity – you get the idea. When the invasion happens, Davis is heading home for his daughter’s birthday so for the sections of the game I got to play, finding Davis’ missing daughter is the primary objective.
Where Inversion really impressed for me was just how cinematic it all is without becoming pretentious or unnecessary. It doesn’t take overly long in having the invasion take place but even in the short time you wait before getting stuck in, the scene is set really nicely. From knowing nothing at all about Davis or his partner, you feel immediately attached to them and as soon as the invasion begins, you’re hyped and ready to get moving. It’s a pleasant surprise seeing as many games can take hours and hours to even give you a basic understanding of what’s going on, but with Inversion you feel like you’re returning to something familiar after a short absence.
If you briefly read about Inversion’s actual content, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it sounds a tad generic. Yes, it is another cover based third person shooter and yes it doesn’t try a great deal new, but it’s still fantastic fun and progresses at a good pace. You’re never simply thrown into an area and forced to kill off hordes of bad guys until the game is satisfied, instead killing things as you move forward in a believable quantity rather than being drowned in enemy entrails.
Where Inversion becomes an original title however is through the use of gravity. A short way into the game, Davis and Leo acquire Gravpacks which allow them to manipulate objects and on certain occasions even change axis and walk on walls or ceilings. Thankfully, axis switching isn’t thrust upon you continuously and only crops up when it needs to. As for manipulating objects, it’s somewhat similar to the recent The Darkness 2’s mechanics which let you grab objects and then fling them at enemies. First you’d fire a round of energy into the object (or objects) you’d like to throw to make them hover. Once hovering, you can grab them and throw them straight at an oncoming enemy or through a barricade hindering your progress. Whilst it’s also something you won’t use that often, it’s very satisfying to throw a car into a group of enemies and watch them get flattened by the hunk of metal you’ve flung their way. The game also employs a reverse gravity shot which makes things fall rather than float but during my preview session, I hadn’t unlocked it.
Perhaps most importantly I found that Inversion just flows. I played through six chapters in my preview session and each chapter intertwined with the following chapter smoothly and despite loading screens and achievements alerting me that the chapter was finished, it felt continuous. If you catch my drift. The story evolves much like a Hollywood movie, never spending too long on one moment before moving into something new but simultaneously entertaining you just long enough to keep you satisfied. It’s rare that a game is perfectly paced so it was a welcome surprise.
We also got to take a brief but enjoyable look at the game’s multiplayer which again took me by surprise. Although it’s not quite as enjoyable as the single-player mode, the gravity mechanics work quite well, especially on maps that require you to capture a base which when captured, flips the map upside down so you’re fighting on the opposite plain. It’s interesting but could use a little tweaking as it’s quite easy to remain perched under the enemy’s capture point, wait for the flip, and capture it back instantly.
Inversion entertained me far more than I thought it would. What I assumed would be a gimmick-laden generic third-person shooter turned out to be an enjoyable action title with a surprisingly well-written and well-paced story. From being a considerable distance under my radar to be being something I’m definitely keeping an eye on. Whilst the multiplayer won’t win any awards or see off the major competition, it’s something I look forward to getting stuck into when the game releases for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on June 8th.