InVersion Hands-On Impressions

At Namco Bandai's IGNITE event earlier this week, developer Saber Interactive (TimeShift), showed off a new shooter called InVersion that the team hopes will "reinvent the shooter genre." Though the game is still in the pre-alpha stage, the developers conducted a live demo of the game, after which I was able to get my hands dirty playing through an early level.


In the world of InVersion, aliens with the power to manipulate gravity have invaded the earth. The world is thrown into chaos. Skyscrapers are ripped from the ground, and gravitational anomalies abound. We were told that the protagonist comes home to find his wife has been killed in the invasion, and his daughter is missing. It's up to the player and his AI-controlled squad to defeat the alien menace, with the help of some gravity-tech commandeered from the extra-terrestrials.

InVersion plays similarly to other cover-based shooters like Gears of War, but the gravity-based gameplay adds some interesting twists to the familiar. The opening action in the demo was fairly standard faire. I began by shooting my way through packs of enemies on debris-filled city streets, using my standard machine gun and grenades. In addition to the basic weapons, I also had the ability to fire a gravitational anomaly, similar to how the "Singularity" ability works in Mass Effect, except bigger. Everything caught in the field's radius (enemies, cars, debris) immediately began floating, which proved handy in removing enemies from cover. Once affected by the gravitational anomaly, I could also manipulate gravity to grapple enemies or objects and launch them to great destructive effect.

Environmental destructibility also plays a significant role. When confronted with a group of enemies holed-up in a nearby building, I was able to dispatch them using a turret to shoot out the support columns, bringing most of the structure down in a satisfying cloud of dust and debris.

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Certain areas of the demo-level also had their own persistent gravitational issues. Battling through an alien-infested street, I entered one of these anomalies, and immediately found myself continuing the fight while standing on the side of a skyscraper. It's a mildly disorienting effect that was pulled off rather well, and fully changed the battlefield. The live demonstration that was shown (different from the playable demo) showed a section of the game where the player was fighting through a sea of unearthed buildings, spiraling in a huge zero-gravity environment.

Again, what I played of InVersion was still pre-alpha, but the game is already looking pretty sharp. The different gravity-based mechanics showed enough potential and variety that I'll be keeping this on my radar leading up to its planned release date of February 7, 2012 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.