The shooting genre has become a very crowded one, be it First Person or Third. So for a new title to break out and be noticed you need to have an ace up your sleeve. Inversion, coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 has such an ace - the Gravlink, which is used to manipulate the gravity around you.
In the single player mode, the manipulation is used to take on enemies by lifting them up, slamming them down and solving the odd puzzle. But we're here to talk about the Multiplayer, which we managed to have our first look at last week, and where the Gravity use is toned back and you can only lift opponents. Well, we say "only", but this leaves them suspended for a brief period, which in turn leaves them open to gunfire. We will point out that you're not just floating about waiting for the bullets to fly, you can fire back, and we recommend that you do!
But before we dove into the multiplayer - and thus before this preview dives into the details - we got a chance to have a quick play with the character editor. The pieces available to edit at the start are slim but as you progress you'll get access to more heads, hairstyles, clothes and so on. Editing doesn't alter the way you'll play, but it will give you a sense of individuality as you fight it out online. And you'll need that individuality, as Inversion can take up to 12 players online. The fights are always fast and furious, and the maps are tailored to be just the right size for this many players. So you're never far away from a fight, but can always back away if you need to catch some air.
Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee
There are two standard online modes, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. To be honest these two modes feel quite familiar, a bit like Gears of War with added gravity-defying stuff. This is by no means a bad thing, but it's the other modes that make Inversion shine, shifting and twisting familiar types of gameplay as much as the gravity itself.
For starters, there's Hourglass, a simple 'capture the objective'-style mode that sees one team attacking with the other defending. The twist for Hourglass comes when the objective is captured (or not) - the map starts to twist and the players go into a free fall and land on the ceiling. Then it's the other team's turn to attack or defend. This gives each map a two for one feel, especially when the maps are so different. The map(s) that we played on started as a fiery wasteland full of rocks and scaffold for vantage points, but when it flipped over, the map was clean and futuristic with metal flooring and elevated areas for snipers. Gravity Slaughter also sees the map flip upside down once you've built up a large enough killstreak, killing your remaining foes in one brutal move!
Hail To The King
King of Gravity is a strange and completely chaotic game mode to get to grips with. All 12 players are spread across the map with one player selected as the "King of Gravity" and given the only Gravlink on the map. For the King, it's a constant battle for survival against 11 other players all trying to get hold of your Gravlink. For the other players to score, they need only kill the King (killing fellow players will deduct points). The only way for the King to score is killing all the other players. Not as easy as it sounds, but possibly our favourite of the modes we played. Running for your life whilst earning points by killing foes that are chasing you was a really intense (and fun) battle of survival. Getting one or two kills as King was cause for celebration, but getting a streak going was euphoric.
The mode we didn't get to play is Survival Mode. This four player co-op mode sees you taking on waves of enemies as you progress through to three new areas on the map that you're fighting in. Each area will contain new enemies for you to defeat. Similar to Horde mode from Gears of War or Firefight from Halo, nothing tests the bonds of friendship more than a survival style mode.
Inversion features some very fun and truly competitive multiplayer modes, putting twists on familiar gameplay in ways that only this gravity-defying title could. With Inversion launching just before the quieter summer period, this is definitely a game that willkeep you going through the next few months!