|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Dev: Saber Interactive|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: June 5, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
Then all hell breaks loose in about the last third of the campaign, and it's hard to forgive the level of frustration you're forced to deal with as you stagger your way toward the title's merciful conclusion. The difficulty ramps up as you face stronger enemies with more dangerous weapons, and what was once a light and pleasant experience becomes a dreary slog. If you're playing alone, you'll notice that your AI partner is feeling the stress, too, as he bites the dust with increasing frequency. Even the plot, which wasn't exactly Robert Heinlein to begin with (though the game is dedicated to him), takes a turn for the worse.
Then there are the boss fights. Oh my god, the boss fights. They're overly difficult, too frequent, and repetitive. And by "repetitive," I don't mean that you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again to win -- though there's that too. By "repetitive" I mean that you fight the same exact freaking bosses multiple times.
Hands down, the most obnoxious one is the Slave Driver, a fat guy with a whip, legions of minions, and at least twice as much health as any reasonable game designer would give him. He's protected by a shield, and to get the shield to come down, you have to kill a wave of his followers. Unfortunately, the minions aren't normal enemies with guns; instead, they're deranged, fast-moving monsters armed with melee weapons, so you have to run around the arena erratically to avoid them, praying that you won't get caught on an object or sucked into cover unexpectedly. (You can try hitting them with your own melee attack, but you'll quickly discover that it's almost unusable, especially once an enemy is on top of you.) If you let a minion or the Slave Driver himself get too close, you'll be dead after just a few hits, and you get to start all over again.
Eventually, Slave Driver "dies," and you can play the game in peace for a bit before you come across him again. And again. And again.
If you get sick of screaming profanity at your TV and making your wife mad (or maybe that's just me), you can try the multiplayer modes instead. (Quick note: Multiplayer is online only, which angered some customers who'd been promised otherwise.) Co-op solves the problems with the partner AI, and makes the boss fights a little easier to boot. The competitive modes are pretty buggy, but they're fun in a ridiculous kind of way. In addition to the standard Gears modes (deathmatch, horde, etc.), there are a few gameplay types that take advantage of the gravity features.
In King of Gravity, all the players fight for control of a single Gravlink--the only way to get points is to get the Gravlink and rack up kill streaks, and the Gravlink provides you a huge tactical advantage over all the other players who are trying to kill you. In Gravity Slaughter, you need to kill your foes with your gravity powers, and in Grav Control, a kill streak earns you the right to flip the arena's gravity so that the layout changes.
With more polish and better use of its gravity gimmicks, Inversion could have been something truly special. And even without that, Inversion could have been a great way to waste a weekend, if only the developers hadn't let the campaign go off the rails toward the end. Instead, what we're left with is two-thirds of a campaign that competently rips off Gears of War, and some multiplayer modes that aren't bad. That's not enough to justify a rental, much less a $60 purchase.
Date: June 12, 2012