Inversion developer Saber Interactive did a great job with a shooter called Timeshift. The formula was simple: take a regular ol’ shooter, add a cool gimmick, and let it roll down its designated corridors. Timeshift’s time powers tweaked the usual gunplay and gave it a sense of identity. It made what would have been an otherwise forgettable shooter memorable. See also the recent Darkness II and Fear 3. So what went wrong with Inversion?

Inversion’s gimmick is mostly that biotic power from Mass Effect. You remember the one, right? Bloop out a blue blop of power during a firefight, and bad guys float up in the air so you can more easily shoot them. Later Inversion gives you a shockwave attack and a gravity gun to pick up and throw stuff. Sometimes you pass through zero-G areas where you can float between grabbable ledges as the level designers see fit. But instead of letting the gimmicks drive the action, Inversion all too often lets the level designers drive the action. The concept of a world where gravity has gone rogue doesn’t work so well when going rogue only means carefully scripted pockets. And the blue anti-gravity blops are based on an ammo concept instead of a cooldown bar, which works wonders at making it feel only as useful as the blop ammo put on the map.

Otherwise, Inversion drinks deeply from the Gears of War well, including the same basic combat model, the same generic space marines, and the same overwrought investment in its own bad story. But there’s none of Gears’ heft or kick. Instead, Inversion has that lightweight feel usually reserved for the first level of a game before you get the useful weapons.

Inversion’s two-player co-op is online only. Do you even know anyone else who has this game? Probably not. So the two-player co-op means an indestructible computer player tags along, playing part of the game for you. The multiplayer, which includes a horde mode, is only multiplayer if you can find someone else playing. Prospects don’t look good when you can’t find a match the Saturday afternoon after the game’s release. Leaving you with just another cover-based, checkpoint-driven forgettable shooter with a thin gimmick.

1 star
Xbox 360