So, look what we have here. Another game vying for the crown of best cover shooter, in an increasingly crowded market.
Inversion’s attempt to win this battle is done in two ways. First, they take their inspiration form their peers. When I say inspiration, I mean totally copy them. Inversion IS Gears of War in all but name, seemingly subterranean enemies, guns with swords (ok not chainsaws but you get my point) and even Gears’ roadie run is in.
The trouble is, if you’re going to copy someone, make sure you do it better, that’s the number one rule. Unfortunately, Inversion doesn’t with clunky controls, clumsy cover system and weapons that feel as meaty as a fish. Over reliance on cuts scenes, a script that is laughable and dialogue that will make you cringe. All adds up to a game that has failed in its attempt to mimic other third person shooters.
But, and it’s a big but, Inversion has that all important second trick up it’s sleeve, and that is Gravity. Along with the standard range of weaponry, you’ll also get you hands on a gravity gun (think Half Life Episode 2) where you can make objects lighter of heavier. These modes are used together to solve basic puzzles. But they can also be used to lift up enemies camped behind cover, or lift the car they’re hiding behind up and then shoot it at them. This adds an extra layer of tactics to the stale shooting, both in the campaign and in multiplayer mode.
The use of gravity doesn’t stop there either. Dotted around the levels are gravity pockets, walk into these and the whole world turns upside down. Come across a seemingly impassable gap, step into the pocket and shift gravity so the building next to you is now your floor and the floor is now next to you, making that huge gap, a thing of the past. It’s clever stuff, although at times it felt a little pointless.
And there’s more gravity fun too. At certain points you are weightless, and can float around the level, shooting and flying to cover. Think of the Zero G bits in Dead Space and you’ll have a good idea of how these play out.
Special mention also has to go to the scenery destroying physics engine. It’s superb, doing a grand job of toppling buildings onto enemy’s heads. It’s great just shooting up the place and seeing what falls down. But don’t stay behind cover for too long as that can also get shot to bits, leaving you prone to a bullet in to the head.
So, thanks to the gravity mechanics and the awesome physics engine, this game is dragged from third person shooter mediocrity. There is just about enough ideas in here to make it worthwhile. The shooting and cover systems have been done better elsewhere. But if you’re a PlayStation owner, this is as near as you’ll get to playing Gears of War.