by Liam Edwards
previewed on PS3
A big world full of shooters
From E3 to GamesCom, right through to Eurogamer expo 2011, this year has been the year of the shooter. From the battle for the title of king FPS between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, to the many other games fighting over the leftover consumers, it has been hard to go to an event and not be swallowed whole by the sounds of bullets. But there is a lesser known battle in the shooter genre that takes place every year, and that is the battle between the new third-person titles, a battle that keeps the genre alive.
This year is likely to be dominated by Gears of War 3 in that regard, but announcements such as Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Binary Domain, Inversion and StarHawk all ready and willing to fill your gaming sessions with bullets and guns. But it’s the sad fact of life that not many of these games get the attention they deserve, as they are passed off as “just another shooter.” They all have some degree of cover-based shooting with squad mechanics. All, however, are attempting to bring new light to a stale, somewhat decaying genre. And with that we come to Namco Bandai's newest third-person shooter, Inversion.
Staying true to its title, Inversion is more than a shooter and involves elements that allow the player to manipulate gravity itself. You take on the role of father, cop and all-round hero, Davis Russel. He is forced into war when his peaceful home is destroyed and invaded by an unknown enemy. To make matters worse, in the midst of all the hectic fighting his daughter goes missing too. A very cliché story indeed, but with nearly all shooters, the story isn’t what interests players so much as the action.
Something funny has happened to the gravity in the world of Inversion, but luckily Russel gets his hands on some high caliber, gravity-defying technology. The main tech is the grav-link, a backpack that allows Russel to change between high and low gravity. Each seems similar at first glance, but there are some distinct differences that completely change the way you play. High gravity allows Russel to attack enemies with a destructive red force of gravity, which acts like a bomb that can be thrown towards enemies. Low gravity is a blue force of gravity that allows you to throw something that implodes around the enemies and traps them floating, allowing you to pick them off easily. You can even pull objects towards you and create your own cover with low gravity.
But if hiding isn’t your thing, you could just throw the cover at the enemies, crushing them all. This isn’t really something seen in other titles, as it allows Inversion to give players challenging scenarios where cover is limited and after a few minutes of use is destroyed. The game then forces players to think of a different strategy to get through the opposing forces. Looking around for some destructible rocks or buildings to turn into cover is important, but Inversion won’t allow you to hang around thinking for too long, what with the enemies trying to riddle your body with bullet holes.
It keep players enticed, things must be kept fresh. The weapons available in the recent demo were interesting and a heap of fun. More importantly, the unique gameplay scenarios allow for practically anything to appear. Enemies can approach on inverted walls or upside down, making weapons like the gravity grenades quite useful. Throwing a grenade upwards and it sticking to what seems to be the roof is baffling, but you don’t question it. Namco has allowed itself a license for anything. Hopefully Namco has taken the time to make this game as great as it could be.
A world turned upside down
Inversion is certainly promising. The recent playable demo is fun, and shows a lot of what the game is about. Manipulating gravity is a concept that has risen in prominence in recent years, with seemingly every game having some version of Half Life 2's gravity gun, but Inversion plays with the gravity of the whole environment. Namco has allowed the game to stay very much under the radar so far; I hope it is a tactic to surprise people, not because it’s just another low key release, spawned to make a small capital.
Inversion is heading for release on February 7, 2012, and is certainly a game to keep an eye out for. It could be one of the surprises of the next year.