Features & News
Hands On: Inversion
May 16, 2012, Author: Diogo Miguel
Namco Bandai’s latest gamble would probably make Newton turn in his grave. Inversion is a video-game that defies all laws of gravity. It’s also a third-person shooting video-game, so it’s interesting to see how the changes in gravity will affect this.
The starting point for Inversion is similar to the beginning of every disaster film. The main character is going about his daily life when out of a sudden, everything literally starts falling apart. It’s common for films to give a glimpse of life before the disaster, but it doesn’t normally happen in video-games. That is possibly the reason why it feels compelling to play through these last moments, before civilisation collapses.
It’s also a fantastic way to make the player care about the characters. The characters themselves are likeable because they have physical limitations; it’s not your typical shooting video-game full of meat heads. The characters get hurt throughout the story, and it will realistically slow down their performance in combat.
It’s safe to say that the first hour or so of Inversion is quite tame compared to what comes after. Obviously, the two main characters Davis Russel and Leo Delgado don’t yet have access to the gravity equipment. Nevertheless, it’s a good way for players to familiarise themselves with the use of standard weapons. Aiming feels quite difficult at first, since enemies move about quite often, and there are lots of tremors. The sniper is fiddly to aim, but it makes sense since it is a powerful weapon. It’s recommended to set it to auto aim and turn down the level of sensitivity, letting it automatically lock onto enemies.
The cover system works exceptionally well. Pressing a button will lock the character to a surface, and standing near the edge will make it possible to perform a variety of actions, such as swiftly moving to another cover. There is rarely a moment where the cover system doesn’t help the player avoid dangerous situations. It’s just a cover system but it makes the shooting sections much more enjoyable.
One of the features in Inversion is the cooperative mode. There’s a few opportunities for both players to help each other out, such as one of them giving the other a boost up a locked gate. It’s a standard decision, but playing with a human player will make it possible to revive each other.
The main reason for playing Inversion is the insane gravity elements, however. It all kicks off in the beginning when objects suddenly start floating in the air. This is the sort of scenery seen throughout the story and surprisingly enough, it never fails to impress. It’s truly fascinating to see whole buildings being ripped apart and floating in the air. This also provides situations where characters are flying around, or even shooting enemies in a different angle.
The characters manage to get their hands on a neat gadget called Gravlink at some point. This ingenious tool will even out the odds when fighting against the mysterious Lutadores gang. These ruthless scoundrels started killing and kidnapping people on the day that society collapsed. There are different types of them, and each requires a different approach in combat. Fortunately the Gravlink has a few abilities that will help both characters.
One of the main uses for the Gravlink is to lift objects up in the air. Another ability makes it possible to grab floating objects and smash them into the environment or even enemies. This makes it possible to include simple puzzles mechanics, such as a situation where the player must throw objects at weak wall sections, in order to create a path. It feels satisfying to use the Gravlink gadget, since the intuitive controls are very easy to get to grips with. There’s other abilities that get unlocked as the story progresses; the gadget requires energy though, so it is best to use it only when necessary.
Inversion also has a multiplayer section with four very different modes. One of the best modes is the traditional deathmatch mode. It’s exhilarating to get stuck into shooting anything that moves. It gets even more exciting when making use of the Gravlink, to shoot enemies floating in the air.
Hourglass mode is confusing at first, but it becomes addictive once the player understands the rules. It consists of two teams that are trying to protect their bases. The team that manages to stop the base from being invaded, for a certain amount of time, will win the match. It’s a take on the classic multiplayer mode, where players need to capture a flag. It works really well with the gravity elements, since it means players can use the Gravlink, to distract players guarding a base.
King of Gravity is one of the least enjoyable modes for various reasons. It’s reminiscent of hunting for the skull in Halo, but with the Gravlink gadget instead. The issue is that the one holding the Gravlink will only earn one point after defeating another player. It’s difficult because of the fact that there is room for a total of eleven other players. Any player that holds the Gravlink automatically becomes public enemy number one, making it a difficult mode that only highly-skilled players are likely to enjoy.
Lastly there is the Gravity Control mode, which is another one that doesn’t exactly work out in practise. Basically, players that earn a kill streak will get access to a special gravity gadget. The chosen player that manages to activate it will crush everyone else to death, and earn death points. It’s fun in a certain way, but anyone that doesn’t quite understand the concept will end up confused. It also means that skilled players will most likely keep continue to activate the gadget, making it just about impossible to win a round.
Playing these modes will make it possible to earn lots of rewards, such as new clothes for characters. There’s also other incentives that should keep players coming back for more online action.
Inversion has a lot of ideas that will surely keep players hooked throughout the main campaign. It’s clear that a lot of work went into thinking of ways to manipulate gravity. This makes it possible to create a few interesting sequences where players will need to use gravity to succeed. The multiplayer is also a fun experience, even if some of the ideas used in certain modes don’t feel quite right. It’s not a video-game that is going to shake up the third-person shooter genre, but Inversion is still an enjoyable title that players should pay attention to in the next few weeks.