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This week, after the surprise of Spec Ops: The Line, Inversion has us back to being able to judge a game by the cover.

TranscriptEdit

You know, thanks to Spec Ops: The Line, the world is a happier if rather bleakly confrontational place, but at the same time it's made my job a little more complicated. Its intense and well-structured story in the trappings of a load of generic realistic shooter xenophobi-fun proves that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, which is a shame because judging books by their cover cut out half my workload. For example, I would love to have judged Inversion by its cover, especially the box blurb.

You know how publishers seem to think the audience of AAA video games are the hairy monkey people from 2001 before the monolith showed up, who you have to beat around the head to make them pay attention to your tasty bananas, and that's why back of the box blurb has been reduced to a few flashy screenshots with one or two words beneath them in bold block capitals? Well, one of the selling points Inversion went for was the fact that there's chest-high walls in it with an accompanying pictures of the two leads chilling next to one. I'm going to judge the fuck out of Inversion by its cover! It's cover-based shooting, that is!

Another thing that illustrates how AAA games are terrified your soup-like monkey mind will be distracted from their game by the rustling of the leaves of next door's leylandii is the flash-forward where the action starts by skipping ahead to the very end of the game to assure us that shit's gonna get fucked, and which is fast becoming mandatory for second-rate shooters. It's not even like Inversion has a slow start. A game like Heavy Rain, where you spend the first six hours mooching around the house systematically running out of children, could have benefitted from the briefest of hints that you eventually get to see people's tits.

But Inversion's plot starts with about thirty seconds of a bloke working as a cop in a glittering utopian city before the earth cracks asunder and the armies of Lord Humungous burst in and start killing everyone. That's thirty seconds of things being perfectly fine before shit rockets fanwards that apparently haunted the developers with visions of players switching off twenty-nine seconds in, going, "Man, I ain't down for no things being perfectly fine, simulator, let's go flick staples at the cat!"

Our aforementioned cop/bloke/hero is named either Davis Russell or Russell Davis, I honestly couldn't figure out which, and he resembles the head of a Ken doll stuck on the body of a Wrestle Mania action figure. His daughter gets captured by the invaders and I guess she must have been keeping his insulin in her lunchbox or something because the desire to get her back is literally his only motivation. There's a point where fatherly devotion gets a bit weird, you know. I mean the world's being invaded, you could always stay home and make a new one. You're not going to able to do that if the enemy's gonna shoot your bollocks off while you're assaulting their headquarters looking for her.

So basically this is Gears of War with the Dom's wife subplot upgraded into the protagonist's sole character trait. The levels do the same Gears of War thing where they go "Hey look at this amazing skybox we spent months on. Bet you'd like to be playing around in that, wouldn't you? Now go crouch next to a wall and growl at things like a trapped stoat." The characters even stand like they do in Gears of War with their legs apart and an alert smugness to their posture like they're bracing themselves for the moment their six-foot cocks uncoil and thump to the floor.

"Yahtzee, you tired old late-twenties codger," I hear you cry. "Your opinion on swaggering meathead cover-shooters are well-documented. Why did you even pick this game up unless you had severe congestion and thought a few good sneers would fix it?" Well, you know me, I'm a sucker for innovation and Cadbury's Creme Eggs, one of which Inversion proported to possess.

The game employs a variety of gravity mechanics for example. Both the player and the enemy can cancel gravity in small areas to make enemies appear out of cover, a service that's questionably useful since the standard mode of behaviour for enemies in any cover-based shooter is to pop up and down like little wooden ducks anyway. You can also launch physics objects at enemies at high speed almost as if you can employ your gravity powers as a gun! Although for some reason you can only pick up and fire physics objects that have been in a zero-gravity field, so ok, firstly we're taking ideas from eight years ago and secondly we're doing it vastly worse. A mechanic in a shooter that's marketably less convienent than just pointing and shooting until the mans fall down is the very definition of a gimmick. So where are those Cadbury's Creme Eggs you promised me, Inversion?

There's nothing wrong with cover-shooting. Spec Ops, Max Payne, that new Deus Ex with the sunglasses twat; these illustrate that cover-based shooting is fine if it serves the game, if it's the glue connecting the actually interesting bits of the model airplane. But when the interesting bits exist only to serve the cover-shooting, then you're grinding the model airplane components to beef up the glue. You give us mastery over one of the fundamental forces of the universe and then suggest we just use it to make it slightly easier to shoot things behind cover? Not really a big picture sort of thinker, are you? I'm glad you were never given a Green Lantern ring, you'd probably just use it to conjure a magical green credit card to pay for a second-hand spud gun. Couldn't we use our gravity powers to, you know, fly?

Well, it's funny I should mention that. There are fenced-off zero-gravity bits, but all you're allowed to do is move back and forth between, you guessed it: COVER! When you're not on cover, all you can do is violently fart every ten seconds or so to nudge you a foot or two closer to cover. At one point, I was out of cover near the level's exit and tried to fart my way inside but bounced off one of the cover-shooter genre's beloved invisible walls because they would only let me in if I was in the cover next to it and pressed the contextual exit level button. Be ye video game, Inversion, or be ye checklist?

Oh yes, and sometimes there are predetermined gates that make gravity shift ninety degrees so you can fight enemies on the sides of buildings hiding behind signs and ventilation shafts, but it's just another way of inorganically connecting one shooter arena to the next.

So on the whole, a half-arsed plot full of boorish assholes and boss-fights repeated ad nauseum that squanders what potential it has in the name of taking the same AAA shooter box as always. And I'm not sure why they called it Inversion when you only get to walk on the ceiling like once. A more appropriate title might have suited it like Another Meaningless Distraction on the Inexorable Path to the Grave. Although there is one bit in the opening narration where Russell Davis Russell drops the title word while waffling on about how much things have changed lately.

Oh, okay, glad we cleared that up. So what the title is supposed to be saying is that this is the story about how my life got flip-turned upside-down .

AddendaEdit

Yeah that reference won't seem dated at all: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Can we agree that the ending plot reveal of this game is really really fucked when you think about it

This Inversion perversion has ruined my immersion

Extra: JamEdit

So the Escapist Expo is still in September and you should still totally come, but also in October, I've got a second novel coming out! It's called Jam, and you should preorder it from Amazon and tfaw.com . It's about an apocalypse, with jam in it!

ScreenshotsEdit

Inversion 1

Let's go flick staples at the cat!

Inversion 2

Grinding the model airplane components to beef up the glue

Inversion 3

All you can do is violently fart every ten seconds or so

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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