We're sitting in a presentation room watching a third-person cover shooter play out on a big plasma TV. Two burly men roadie-run to cover and slam their backs against it, giving us a look at their assault rifles, which sport curved-blade bayonet attachments.
As the player-character leans out of cover we slip into a familiar perspective, hunched over his right shoulder and staring down the sights, focusing on a familiar reticule in the centre of the screen.
The chunky enemies are growing in number. Our guy moves to the edge of cover and up pops a little icon portraying him standing and diving into an adjacent covered position, with a little arrow in the middle and an A-button prompt. Our hero dives across the gap, then gets up and puts a big boot through a closed door to open it.
A lot of games resemble other games, but on a basic combat-mechanic and movement level Saber Interactive's Inversion makes no bones about looking exactly like Gears of War. It's uncanny. And a bit odd.
Inversion tells the story of two men fighting their way home after an alien invasion. The lead character lost his wife and blacked out during the chaos, but he's determined to find his daughter and discover her fate. And fortunately for Saber's lawyers, the invaders brought advanced gravity devices with them.
The effect transforms combat. Armed with one of these devices - it's a third-person co-op shooter, so if you want then two of you can have them - our heroes can pick up objects in a pulse of gravity so they float weightlessly in the air. So far, so gravity gun. But you can manipulate objects further - you can take the liquid out of a barrel, for example, and if it's flammable you can use that to your advantage.
Like you, enemies need to make use of cover to avoid being shot to bits. However, there's nothing to stop you picking up their cover and moving it out of the way - or forming your own cover with your gravity tools. Or you can pick up the enemies themselves, drawing them towards you and firing them out as projectiles.
Gravity has been disturbed throughout the world, and it isn't finished either. When a skyscraper in the distance topples to the ground, creating an enormous dust cloud, it also triggers a shockwave that distorts gravity in your immediate surroundings.
But the effects are localised, so you're fighting enemies who are moving between cover points on a plane of gravity at a right angle to you (right angles seems to be the theme) while from your perspective they're advancing along the wall.
Blue "conduits" allow you to move between planes and move things between them - aim a grenade across the threshold and it will change direction in midair as gravity changes around it. Objects shift too, like cars and bodies. Some areas will go back to normal after a while, but others are left permanently in their new state.
Extensive use of Havok physics (welcome back!) is the key to the gravity effects, according to the developers, but Havok is arguably most impressive when it's used in more familiar but unusually spectacular ways.
This may be a Gears of War clone in combat terms, but despite Epic Games' mastery of Unreal Engine 3, Saber appears to be no slouch either, coaxing screen-filling, physics-driven building collapses and other amazing visual feats from the tech driving Inversion.
Although the physics implementation does have limits, a lot more of the world is rigged to give way than you would expect. There are simple things, like a bridge across an alleyway with aliens on it that falls apart when you blow the support struts. You can snipe an enemy on a distant rooftop and watch him fall 50 stories, dismembering and destroying scaffolding in the process.
If you really dislike scaffolding you can also blow explosive barrels at the foot of it, collapsing it on more pesky alien invaders. Meanwhile, we're usually down on turret gun sections, but they get a pass when you can cut the legs off a warehouse and watch it fall and visibly disintegrate as enemies scatter in its path. Saber's keen to emphasise that these physics reactions are not scripted, either, so what you see will differ to whatever we do.
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You will pick up new gravity device powers as the game goes on - like the ability to pick up larger objects like cars and use them as movable shields. The caveat is that cars often explode when people shoot them repeatedly.
You'll have a pool of gravity energy to draw upon used by gravity weapons like the shock effect grenade, which releases a pulse that destroys everything in its radius. Energy will refill over time, but there will be other means of refilling it faster.
When it's not doing gravity-related things, Inversion continues to resemble its inspiration - albeit with more environmental destruction. A cramped shootout in an apartment building sees enemies turning over fridges to hide behind, while your shotgun punctures gaping holes in the plasterboard.
There are a few varieties of enemy evident too, including a heavily-armoured guy who has Shogun-style plating on his front but very little protection on his back. Enemies will have "full gibbing", the developer explains. We got that.
Inversion should have split-screen and online co-operative play when it launches, although other multiplayer options will be revealed later. That's not too surprising as Saber says the game is due out next year.
But what does Saber CEO Matthew Karch have to say about the Gears comparisons? Isn't he worried people will be dismissive of Inversion when it looks so similar?
"A little bit," he tells Eurogamer. "To be perfectly honest, we used Gears as an inspiration. We're not going to shy away from it - it's a good game, and why reinvent the wheel? I think what we're bringing new is really on the physics front.
"Yeah, I'm sure some people are going to say that, and that's fine. As long as we can match what Gears is doing... We love that game, so why not?"
Inversion is due out for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.