Jul 18 2012

Review of Inversion

It’s finally happened. The aliens (perhaps the very same aliens who’ve advanced to the point of perfecting interstellar travel yet still have a quaint, almost nostalgic, affection for Pro bono proctology) have invaded. And no one can do anything about it. The Army’s was turned upside down, and Blackwater, being Blackwater, can’t help, having already taken up a contract with the invaders, stating in a press release, “due to a potential for a conflict of interest, we cannot accept terrestrial contracts at this time.” Only Davis Russel , a reckless cop with a heart of gold and the only man kicked out of the WWF for taking too many steroids, is in a position to save the planet–this is the premise, more or less accurately conveyed, of the recently released and almost heroically derivative shooter,Inversion.

It’s terrible, like really really bad.. So this should be fun to review, right? Because it’s the critic’s job to jab smarmily at imperfect art, taking both puns and witticisms and grinding them into a humor-like paste and then smearing said paste over a half-heartedly produced pile of nouns, verbs and adjective before crying himself to sleep on a mattress stuffed not with cotton or springs but with thousands of crumbled, rejected proposals for novels, comics, and video games which will remain forever unproduced.

Luckily, I’m not a critic. I’m an amateur critic. So it’s way cooler when I do it.

Inversion is sort of like Moby. No, no Inversion is sort of like that bald guy on the buss who really reminds me of Moby. By sampling good music, Moby’s music reminds me of good music. By sampling Moby, the bald guy on the bus reminds me of the guy who reminds me of good music. And so it is with Inversion: it’s a bad video game which reminds me of the mediocre games which were heavily influenced by good video games: a derivative of a derivative of a derivative. And like some clone too many generations down the line, it’s a little cognitively stunted.

Take the dialog, for example. I could execrate it now, plowing insult after insult upon it, or I could just let Inversion speak for itself. Here is, perhaps, the best quote in the game. Davis, seeking comfort while yearning for his kidnaped daughter, is met with this reply from his buddy: “Who needs therapy when you’ve got a whole planet full of bad guys to splatter?” Which is really brilliant, isn’t it?Who knew the cure for post-traumatic stress was, in fact, traumatic stress?

If the dialog’s terrible, the gameplay is merely bad, being of the standard over-the-shoulder shooter style, with conveniently placed cover every three feet. It’s basically just Gears of War, itself not the best of games. Like the following sentence, its gameplay is super repetitive. Like the following sentence, its gameplay is super repetitive. The graphics, however, are about as good as you can ask for in this stage of the Xbox 360’s lifetime, offering post-apocalyptic scenery with rich detail and a sort of admirable desolation.

There is a bit of a cool twist, adumbrated in the game’s title, which mixes things up a bit: a series of gravity-based weapons whose potential are never fully realized. You get a weapon, a bit of a rip-off of Freeman’s Gravity Gun, which allows you to throw objects, usually the inexplicably numerous exploding barrels which are strewn liberally throughout the game. But the standard projectile weapons usually prove more effective, so you’ll quickly find yourself returning to more quotidian means of bad guy splattering. Occasionally you’ll come across an area which is lacking in gravity, a mechanic which could be really cool, relaying on inertial forces and physics-based puzzles. But this opportunity is squandered: the gravity-free zones are just as boring as everywhere else, which is too bad, considering how cool zero-g could be in a game with a decent physics engine and a clever level designer.

As for multiplayer, it exists but it’s not very good, offering the old standers: Death Match, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. The only original offering is entitled King of Gravity, in which one player controls gravity while all the others try to kill him and, in the process, steal his powers. This could have been fun, but it’s way unbalanced. It’s basically a match of six guys with shotguns vs a demigod with the power to make you float aimlessly about the arena, unable to control or meaningfully participate in the match until said King of Gravity puts you out of your misery with little exertion.

So to conclude this mess of a review, I have only this to say: Inversion is awful. I give it, I don’t know, 1 out of 5 stars.

This has been my review. I’ve played it so you don’t have to.

Born 2046 years after the death of Julius Caesar, Patrick Verhagen is a writer and gamer of little note and less regard, who lives on small island several thousand miles from the equator.  His hobbies include fishing, reading, and composing first person self-descriptions.

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