Inversion's Gravlink device and the six best sci-fi weapons in gaming
- Red Faction Armageddon
- Namco Bandai
- Epic Games
Ahead of the release of Saber Interactive's new Shooter Inversion, we take a look at some of the best sci-fi weaponry on offer in the gaming world
Science fiction is grand. Not only has it given us things like lightsabers, time machines and Jeri Ryan in a skintight leotard, it has also opened up the human imagination to literally any possibility. And more so than movies, videogames are the perfect playground for the imaginative mind; in a game, arguably nothing is impossible to translate from imagination to reality, which is why over the last few years, we gamers have been able to enjoy some of the weirdest, wackiest and most downright improbable gizmos ever devised.
From Sam Gideon’s Augmented Reaction Suit (the ARS, chortle) in Vanquish to Bulletstorm’s energy leash, we’ve seen some truly interesting gadgetry designed purely for our entertainment – but nowhere do games excel more in the crazy invention department than where physics-defying weaponry is concerned.
With Saber Interactive’s gravity-bending 3rd-Person cover shooter Inversion hitting the shelves in the next month or so (having been recently delayed), we decided to pull together a wee list of the more unique people-enders to grace the videogame world recently. Before we take a closer look at Inversion, here’s our list of the best nature-defying weapons in videogames.
THE ZERO POINT ENERGY FIELD MANIPULATOR
HALF-LIFE 2 (Valve Corporation, 2004)
Having dropped what is scientifically known as a clanger at the Black Mesa facility and causing the “resonance cascade” to open a portal into another dimension full of big bad nasties, Gordon Freeman did what any speccy geek would do in his shoes, picked up a crowbar and started kicking Combine ass post-haste. Fortunately, he didn’t have to run around with nothing but a jimmy-wrench for long as, along with various pistols, shotguns and other ballistic toys, Dr. Freeman eventually got his hands on this baby – the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator, otherwise known as the Gravity Gun. Capable of harnessing Newton’s discovery to blast barrels and other blockades out of the way, the Gravity Gun could also be used as a miniature tractor beam, enabling Freeman to pick up all sorts of heavy objects before punting them at an enemy’s chin. Obviously it was also possible to use the device to reach distant supplies and solve various environmental puzzles, but that just wasn't as much fun as launching headcrabs at people.
THE MAGNET GUN
RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON (Volition, Inc, 2011)
The Red Faction franchise is best known for its unique levels of destruction. Guerilla took the concept to new heights in 2008 by allowing you, as grizzled rebel Alec Mason, to destroy pretty much any man-made structure you could behold – but last year's Red Faction: Armageddon took it a step further, allowing you to not only wreck anything you wanted but to rebuild it again using the groovy nano-forge. While the nano-forge itself would be a worthy addition to any sci-fi gizmo best-of list, it’s lack of destructive capabilities means it has to step-aside for the much-more devastating Magnet Gun. A two-stage device, the first shot launches a magnet at an object and the second attaches an anchor elsewhere – which then attracts the magnet at high speed, resulting in some spectacularly creative and gruesome kills. Practical applications aside, the Magnet Gun is simply the best man-flattener on Mars.
THE APERTURE SCIENCE HANDHELD PORTAL DEVICE
PORTAL (Valve Corporation, 2007)
One of the most ingeniously-simple games of recent years was Valve’s little curio, Portal, surreptitiously packaged alongside Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 in the awesome Orange Box collection. Casting the player as Chell, the unfortunate test subject trapped in the research wing of Aperture Science, Portal presented the player with a series of puzzle rooms where the aim was to get from one side to another whilst avoiding the various traps and tricks employed by deranged computer GLaDOS. Able to launch blue or orange portals (blue for entry, orange for exit), the Portal Gun is one of the most well-implemented weapons in videogame history. Sticking an orange portal up on a high ledge, for example, would allow you to launch a blue one at a surface nearby and hop directly through, alighting on the previously unreachable ledge. Though not intended to be used offensively, the device is nevertheless a handy weapon against automated guns given that anything fired through a blue portal will exit an orange portal at a relative speed – or as GLaDOS puts it: “speedy thing goes in; speedy thing comes out”.
BULLETSTORM (People Can Fly / Epic Games, 2011)
Ah, Bulletstorm, a veritable treasure chest of creative carnage with no shortage of outlandish instruments of death. Of a crop containing the flail-gun (which launches a pair of grenades attached by a length of chain) and the Screamer pistol (that actually flays the burning flesh clean off a thug’s bones), our favourite is the Penetrator – in essence a whacking great cannon that shoots rocket-propelled drill-bits at people. While pinning goons to walls with enormous drills is good fun, the real physics-defying part comes when you activate the Penetrator’s secondary fire mode and can then control the projectile after its embedded in an enemy by firing it at something else. Spearing two enemies to the ceiling simply doesn’t get boring – and using the gun earns you such charmingly-named Skillshots as “The Drilldo”. Lovely.
FRACTURE (Day 1 Studios, 2008)
While manipulating gravity and opening trans-dimensional rifts is all well and good, nothing puts paid to a big group of baddies like a little terrain deformation. 2008’s Fracture introduced the Entrencher, both a weapon and a tool capable of altering the ground we walk on to create cover during firefights or swallow goons up beneath the Earth’s crust. Wielded by ridiculously-named future soldier Jet Brody, the Entrencher is a great little number that can also be used to creatively crush enemies to death and angle explosives towards their scowling faces. Military uses notwithstanding, the Entrencher is a doozy for landscape gardeners, too.
THE TMD (TIME MANIPULATION DEVICE)
SINGULARITY (Raven Software, 2010)
Again, not originally envisioned as a weapon, Singularity’s Time Manipulation Device is absolutely deadly in the wrong hands – or in the hands of not-quite-hero Nathaniel Renko, in fact. Able to alter the age of individual targets by moving them backward and forwards through time, the TMD is also a dab-hand at Gravity Gun-aping attraction tricks, freezing objects and blasting people around with pulses of energy. It’s even able to reverse the age of huge constructions like bridges in order to repair extensive damage. Depending on which ending you chose to go for in Singularity, the ramifications of the TMD resting on a bad guy’s wrist were potentially devastating. But obviously, it looked very cool.
INVERSION (Saber Interactive, 2012)
The latest in a long line of Science Academy-baiting weapons, the Gravlink device in Inversion allows hero cop Davis Russel to literally flip gravity on its head at will. Facing off against an unknown enemy that has invaded his city, Russel must utilise the power of the Gravlink while he and his partner Leo Delgado race through a disintegrating cityscape to save his missing daughter. Able to use the device to “increase and decrease the gravity on a chosen object”, crush enemies or alter the direction of gravity in a given space, players will be able to manipulate the environment to do away with enemies, create temporary cover or clear a path to objectives.
Using the Gravlink will be integral to the game both in solo mode and during co-operative play, and creative use of the environement will be essential if you want to get the most out of Saber Interactive's nifty little device. With enemy AI that will actively counter your tactics, quick reflexes combined with some serious outside-the-box thinking will be necessary to advance, and may potentially elevate Inversion above the ranks of the average 3rd-Person Shooter.
The Pervasive Environmental Destruction system enables you to smash apart an enemy’s cover while simultaneously manipulating gravity to create your own, meaning lots of dynamic gunfights that will force you to think on (and off) your feet. We’ll be able to see exactly how the Gravlink measures up against the other fantastical gadgets on this list when Inversion is released early this year.
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
Did we miss off any of your favourite sci-fi weapons? Anything you feel really should have been included but wasn’t? Or do you simply have an opinion on our list as it stands – or about Inversion itself? Whatever your thoughts, feel free to waffle on in the comments box until you’re satisfied, and we’ll do our best to comment back.
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