Buried deep in a labyrinth of twisted metal and crowd-guiding ropes, Inversion boomed across its little corner of the E3 show floor in complete defiance. At first glance, it looks like just another humans vs. invading alien horde shooter, but Inversion's doing a lot more than that — some of which might be detrimental to its success.
Russian developer Saber Interactive, the same studio behind Time Shift and the upcoming Halo remake, set out to bend the laws of gravity in Inversion. The invading alien horde used their advanced weaponry to rip Earth's gravitational field asunder, creating a maimed planet riddled with MC Escher-like physics.
Creating a game world with completely broken gravity is one thing, but allowing the player to further manipulate and change that gravity creates a whole new development nightmare. To help combat this, Saber Interactive built their own graphics engine but they still rely heavily on the time-tested Havok physics engine.
My greatest fear is that outside of a controlled demo setting — like what I was shown and not actually allowed to play during E3 — Inversion could completely fall apart. The man who demoed the game for me said the development team eagerly wanted to see what players would discover once they got their hands on the final product. Gamers are often eerily adept at exploiting tricks and glitches developers never see.
What troubles me about Inversion is that those little tricks and bugs could ultimately destroy a very neat concept. The risk Saber's taking by allowing manual physics control and manipulating objects through different planes of gravity is that it could all just collapse. It wouldn't be developmental disaster, but players are likely going to feel frustrated and lost with the multifacited tools at their disposal.
I hope to see more from this game, and I don't want to leave you feeling incredibly negative toward it. Inversion has a very neat premise that could backfire on Saber and Namco easily if too much of the gravity control is left open and unrestricted.