This cover-based shooter may flip you upside down, but does it have what it takes to stand out?
Inversion, a cover-based third-person shooter from Saber Interactive, touts a weapon called the gravlink as its major selling point. It's a device that lets you control gravity in a multitude of ways, giving you the power to manipulate objects and enemies in a manner that would make Sir Isaac Newton roll in his grave. The story campaign lets you go hog wild with this thing, grabbing onto enemies and rocketing them straight up into the sky never to be heard from again. But in multiplayer, the gravlink is more about impairing your foes than outright abusing them. It only makes sense. Would you want to be banished to the sky every 10 seconds during a multiplayer match?
Still, gravity plays a big role in Inversion's multiplayer modes. One of the more interesting game modes we had a chance to play was called Hourglass. This mode has a few interesting elements going for it. For one, the two teams each control gravity in different ways. The blue team has the power of low gravity, which gives it the ability to latch onto objects (like stray barrels) and launch them at foes or simply shoot a pocket of low gravity at enemies to make them temporarily float in the air. The red team, on the other hand, has the power of high gravity, which lets it shoot a gravity blast at enemies that knocks them to the ground and pins them helplessly on their backs. The red team can also make use of a temporary-energy-shield thing, which doesn't seem to have a lot to do with gravity as much as it has to do with countering the blue team's fun barrel-throwing ability.
The other interesting bit about Hourglass is the way maps reflect the name of the mode. There's a single capture point that both teams are constantly fighting over. Rather than having a booming voice shout something to the effect of "The red team has captured the capture thing!" the entire map just flips itself upside down, like an hourglass. So if you're off on the other end of the map feeling all content that your team has control of the capture point and suddenly the world turns itself upside down and you go falling from floor to ceiling, you know you've got to hightail it back to the other end to retake control of the match.
Inversion also sports a stand-alone four-player co-op mode outside of the main campaign. It's a bit like the horde/survival mode that is so popular in shooters, but instead of remaining stationary, you and your teammates traverse from one end of the map to the other, where a final boss fight awaits you. There are, however, recurring waves of enemies standing in front of you, and you have to finish off a certain number of waves before the next area unlocks. You don't find the usual co-op systems, like reviving a downed buddy or lifting someone up over a large barrier; instead, you kind of create your own co-op moments, like having one player use the gravlink to pull an elusive enemy out of cover while the other pops him with a sniper rifle. You've got infinite lives, so the whole thing is more about racking up the best score by getting to the final boss as quickly as possible.
All in all, Inversion is a shooter that's doing some very interesting things, but it's going to have a hard time standing out from the competition. The basic gunplay feels a bit weak and underpowered, while the sense of on-foot movement feels a bit odd and clunky. There's definitely stuff to enjoy in here, and some original ideas, but ultimately the core of it seems to be a pretty average shooter. But we'll reserve final judgment for when Inversion is released next year.