I was excited to check out Inversion’s multiplayer offerings at a Namco Bandai event this week, as I liked what I’d seen of the single-player game to date. The idea of gravity manipulation hasn’t been seen much in the video game world and could potentially be a great gimmick, provided it’s well-implemented and developer Sabre Interactive (best known for the equally gimmicky TimeShift) can deliver on the technical front. While I certainly enjoyed my time with Inversion’s multiplayer modes, I’m not totally sure if that was a delivery the folks at Sabre were able to make.
The key to Inversion’s gravity manipulation action is the Grav-Link, a handy-dandy gadget that can be used to launch your foes into the air or make them too heavy to move quickly. All told, both powers feel like a stun of sorts, though unloading a full clip into a floating enemy is a far more satisfying experience. On the flip side, if you’ve been launched into the air via a burst of low-gravity, you can use your Grav-Link to increase your own gravity, bringing you back to the ground before your opponent can take advantage of your perilous state. It’s a solid system, and I was happy to see that the Grav-Link has limited charges and can’t be overused.
During my time with the game, I had the chance to check out two gametypes on two very different maps. First up was Gravity Slaughter, which is essentially Inversion’s version of a standard Deathmatch game. The twist here is that you’ll earn more points for using the gravity powers while getting your kills, so zapping an enemy into the air before finishing them off pays off even more in the end. The map we played on was called Junction, and it featured a central area with two rounded walls on either side (think U-shaped) that were part of the playing field. If running up a wall and firing down on the people still on the “floor” sounds like fun, it’s because it is.
Next up was a gametype called King of Gravity, which tasked players with grabbing a single Grav-Link and getting kills while holding it to earn two points. Conversely, a single point could be gained by killing the Grav-Link holder. Since there was only the one Grav-Link, all of the gravity powers were held by the person in control of it, meaning they alone had the ability to launch people up in the air. This made getting the Grav-Link a huge advantage for obvious reasons, though getting the Grav-Link also placed a big ol’ target over the player’s head. The map, Crater, seemed fairly forgettable, featuring an open central area with a number of intersecting caves around the edges. Much of the action was centered around one grouping of caves in one corner, so I didn’t really get to explore the map much.
While the gravity powers added an interesting wrinkle to the proceedings, much of the action was derivative, feeling like just another third-person shooter. If you’ve ever played the Gears of War series, you’ll immediately feel comfortable with Inversion’s control scheme, which features the now-obligatory roadie run. The game also needs a serious coat of polish before it’s released, as jagged edges abounded and occasional framerate issues popped up here and there. If the folks at Sabre can iron these problems out and really nail the gravity angle (something I admittedly didn’t see enough of in my brief time with the game), they could have a modest multiplayer hit on their hands.