Developer: 5th Cell
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360] Xbox Live Arcade
Release date: August 8, 2012
Genre: Third-person shooter
Rating: T for Teen
I’ve spent a week with this game now trying to figure out how to word this review, so instead of languishing more, let’s just get straight into this game.
Hybrid, developed by 5th Cell for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), is a multiplayer third-person shooter set in a space-age, apocalyptic world where two factions are at war over planet resources; namely dark matter.
It emphasis free and fluid movement as well as tactical flanking and retreating. Surprisingly enough, it is based on the Source game engine by Valve, developer of popular PC platform distributor Steam. Being that I am a Valve fan-girl, one would think that I am all over this game like nutella on a graham cracker, much like I was over the announcement of Vindictus, however I found this game to be less than pleasing. So instead of drawing this out longer, let’s start first with the graphics.
This game, graphically, is about on par as one would expect out of a console arcade game. The graphics aren’t completely horribly, yet they do take on a cartoon vibe that may work for some and not for others. It reminds me very much of what might happen had Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer mated with Halo and created a violent baby with tunnel vision. There isn’t much environment in this game, certainly more time was put into game mechanics, which I will say are pretty nice, than into the environment. There is no atmosphere, as one would expect, as everything seems cold and metallic. I guess, though, considering the storyline of this game that is appropriate, but Diablo III‘s storyline is more desolate than this and still its environments are captivating. Is it nice to look at? Of course, the levels – albeit sometimes way too complex – are well designed and textured. If they put as much time into the environment as they did the level design it would be a game I’d want to take out to dinner and afterwards, at my place, invite in for “coffee.”
Gameplay, however, is a bit more optimistic and a little less arousing. Generally speaking, this game is fun. Being able to shoot things and fly around is definitely appealing, but I don’t know if much forethought went into having a game where players who play often aren’t incredibly stacked against players who don’t. Hell, even as a rank 1 private in Call of Duty, I can kill other players with skill. This game makes it a bit more difficult. I can say that I do like the cover mechanism, while I think it has its flaws. I liked that this game made it so innate to move to cover and duck out of the way of fire that it is built into the controls as default. At the same time, however, it seems this cover mechanism actually does the opposite of what it is supposed to do as it’s easy to get stuck in a “cover” situation when you mean to run.
Each time you kill someone you earn a point towards a perk like spawn. One is a drone that follows you around and shoots, another is a heavy-duty drone that moves in a radius around you and searches for targets; much like a moving sentry, and another is a stealth like robot that appears out of nowhere and stealthily kills your opponent with no chance of escape. These stack much easier than one might think. It isn’t like in Call of Duty, where if you die your kill streaks reset, it’s a constant thing. Joining in as a newbie on a game where a player already had three perks waiting to be deployed is a massacre. Not to mention the maps are a maze of barriers and barricades that are only maneuverable if you remember it.
Which brings up the mechanics of this game. Yes, you can fly in this game and it’s how you move from one cover to another. The problem is that it isn’t a free movement. You can advance to the next form of cover or you can retreat to the previous form of cover. If you somehow get halfway to your next point and an enemy is present they have a clear line of sight to you and there is nothing you can do to cancel the movement, only try and retreat or quickly find a nearby form of cover to move to. You can easily retreat, but the line between point A and B is so wide open that by the time you hit the retreat button your body has already fallen limp.
Not to mention that a few players have already figured out a method of spawn camping that makes the game very difficult and rage-inducing for new players or for players in general. I’m sure once you learn pathways and gain points with better weapons the game becomes more fun, but as it is a good idea is executed in a very bad way.
The storyline in this game is also a bit confusing but I won’t hold it against itself as it has been my experience most multiplayer games only don’t really focus so much on the story as they do gameplay.
Hybrid definitely focuses on the game play and it’s not a bad thing. The game itself wasn’t enjoyable for me to play, but with the right tweaks and learning the maps I could see how many could consider this game to be fun. I’d recommend checking out some gameplay videos of it before buying. If you enjoy this type of game, a limited movement, tactical, third person shooter, you will enjoy Hybrid. If not, then it’s a risky purchase as you may find you are pleasantly surprised by how much you like it, or not shocked by how much you don’t.
Overall Rating: 3/5