Booting up Hybrid for the first time is certainly an eyebrow raising experience. It’s almost like being lost in the woods, ready to be found and viciously mauled by a bear, only to stumble upon a leprechaun instead. Except there are no leprechauns in Hybrid, but that’s beside the point.
Developed by 5th Cell (the dictionary masterminds behind the Scribblenauts franchise), Hybrid is the latest 3.v.3 online only multiplayer shooter to hit Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade. But before you finish that yawn and close your browser, keep reading, because you haven’t even heard the hook yet. You see, this little surprise package breaks shooter conventions by doing away with what have become standard navigation mechanics. You won’t be running from building to building. You won’t be hiding in thick grass to get the jump on your opponents, or breathing in the smell of napalm in the morning. No, more like Peter Pan with a semi-automatic, you will be flying high.
Fast, frantic and incredibly tactical, a game of Hybrid is unlike the rest of the generic pack currently on XBLA. By doing away with traditional movement, you are instead forced to quickly locate a defensive position to zip to, indulge in a quick moment of prayer and boost towards it. While in the air, your warrior is free to shoot off a couple of rounds, select new destinations on the fly or retreat to where you originality shot off from. After all, open space is very dangerous indeed.
Flights will often leading to insane mid-air duels with your opponent, as you battle to see who will come out the other end a victor. Strafing or applying an extra layer of boost are at your disposal too, but when the non-gravitational dust settles, Hybrid is all about the skills. Think of it like a stereotypical country Western duel, only in space and without the hats.
Provided you survive your journey, once you’re back on solid ground, you are free to vault over cover and attack your enemies till your heart’s content. You should also be planning your next move though, because staying in one place for too long is a death wish.
As you build up your kill count, you’ll be adding to your kill streak, that enhances your arsenal by summoning multiple robot drones to assist your team. These AI controlled friends don’t always last long, but still manage to help take the heat off as you attempt to make a life-saving escape. Matches also give you the chance to complete set skill challenges (like a certain number of kills) and increase XP that ultimately increases your level and unlocks access to new gear. From shotguns to snipers, all the usual suspects are accounted up for grabs, as well as extra skills and abilities like double XP gain or grenade throwing. However we live in the micro-transaction world of tomorrow, so provided you’ve got the money to back you up, you can get a hold of the good stuff fairly quickly too.
This ultimate desire for more experience makes each online battle all the more compelling, so it won’t be uncommon to get sucked into battle after battle. That is, once you actually get into a game. It’s not that matchmaking doesn’t work; just that it can take a hell of a long time to get going. Waiting in lobbies can take anywhere from two to five minutes at a time, and in a game that relies on such speedy gameplay and often quick matches, it tends to put a dampener on the overall experience.
For those of you who like your killing to mean something, there is also Hybrid’s overarching Meta game. When you first start up the game, you will be forced to choose one of two factions and from that point on, it is this side that you will battle in the name of. Each fight earns points for your larger team, levels up a certain area’s base and above all aids you in capturing/winning a region. Once all the territory has been captured, it’s the end of that season and everything will be reset for the next round. It’s an interesting concept that definitely adds that extra level of motivation to keep the game’s community actively engaged.
As a whole package, Hybrid might not be the deepest game you’ll ever play, nor will it be the prettiest (it doesn’t stray too far from the whole futuristic robot shtick). What it does do however is thankfully mix up what is fast becoming a fairly stale genre. 5th Cell has thrown out the rule book and should be commended for it. At only 1200 MSP, Hybrid is a no brainier, especially if you’ve been dying for something new to get those sweaty little palms on.
- Reviewed On
- Xbox 360