Not Your Daddy’s Third Person Shooter...
Written by Super User
Published Saturday, 15 September 2012 20:00
Like it or not, cover-based shooting has almost become a standard for third-person shooters. Heavily popularized in Gears of War, this mechanic has been adopted by a flurry of gaming titans such as the Uncharted series, Mass Effect, and even games like Resident Evil and Splinter Cell. While mostly necessary and functional, a lot would argue the cover system is getting tired, though it’s hard to imagine what we would do without it in this generation of gaming. Because of this mechanic appearing so often, one of the last things you would expect from it is innovation. Luckily, developer 5th Cell gives us Hybrid, one of the most original twists on the ordinary cover-based shooter to hit the market in years.
Not only is Hybrid an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, but it is also an online-only multiplayer experience. The game has more of a climate based goal than an actual plot. You’re set in a post-apocalyptic world fighting as a soldier for one of two factions: the Variants or the Paladins. The goal of the game is to battle your opposing faction and take over different districts across the in-game globe. Taking over these areas and pushing through to win it’s resources in this post-apocalyptic world is the aim, and it’s as simple as that. Considering the way the game plays and controls, it’s a little tough to imagine a full fledged single player experience revolving around that. Trust me though, you wouldn’t want to alter Hybrid’s modes for anything.
"By spicing up the mechanic that is used so often in games with more going for them, Hybrid proves its worth as a definite gaming gem, and is well deserving to be given a shot by gamers everywhere."
Going into Hybrid knowing nothing about it could be one of the most disorienting experiences of your life, and that is not a bad thing in the slightest. Hybrid takes the worn out mechanic of cover-based shooting and does things to it you would never expect. At all times, you are either in cover, or transitioning from cover to cover via jetpack. There is no running, sprinting, or even casually walking around. The only moving around you will do is shuffling under cover and flying in the air. The idea sounds absurd, but the final product is both original and surprisingly awesome. Point to the cover destination of your choice, and with the press of a button, you will be flying on your way. If you’ve decided mid-way you’ve made a bad decision, simply point somewhere else and fly over there instead. The freedom to shoot enemies while in the air is also an exhilarating experience. There’s a joy that derives from you and your opponent crossing paths in the air and having a sort of joust style showdown.
As far as your soldier’s arsenal, Hybrid mostly delivers the goods. The standard pistols, automatics, shotguns, and snipers are present. However, with the freedom and flexibility a futuristic universe provides, I would have liked to see more variety in firearms. Though even with that complaint, Hybrid knows not to stop there when it comes to the entirety of your arsenal. Selectable abilities and even armed robotic drones are here to spice things up, and they do their job well. Kill streaks reward you with robot sentries of different types, gradually getting stronger based on how well you do. You start out with a flying bullet-spewing machine, but do well enough, and eventually you will have a small flying ninja robot assassin to home in on your enemies and deliver a deadly blow. Abilities come in different shapes and sizes. Grenades, sentry hacking devices, and even just stat boosting perks are available. With all these different combinations, each battle is guaranteed to play differently.
As a whole, Hybrid’s maps are designed to play off it’s gameplay, and it does so gloriously. Cover is not only relegated to the ground. Your destinations will be along the walls and on the ceiling as well. This element does it’s job well as a spectacular way to switch up the cover system but unfortunately, it comes with some flaws too. Because of how disoriented you can get while upside down or facing a direction you aren’t accustomed to, moving around your cover area becomes somewhat unresponsive depending on where your camera is facing. Vaulting over cover in one direction may not go as planned, and shuffling around one corner may have you going the opposite way because of the unorthodox surface. In the heat of battle, it’s unfortunate how confusing this could get. It is by no means game breaking, but hopefully in a sequel, improvements could be made to make maneuvering under cover as smooth as butter.
Multiplayer gametypes are nothing we haven’t seen before. Everything from slayer-based games to king of the hill type events are here. Experience points are earned to boost stats and currency is earned to purchase new weapons and abilities to add to your growing arsenal. As for the visual side of things, Hybrid is unfortunately unlike it’s innovative gameplay, as it is ultimately nothing special when it comes to presentation. Maps may have cover on every surface, but the visuals just don’t pop out. Play two or three stages and you may not even notice a difference between them and the rest. These small but significant complaints have me longing more for an improved sequel. With a game that is so original and innovative in the gameplay department, so many other elements are slightly too run-of-the-mill to be recognized.
Hybrid is undoubtedly one of the most original games you will play in recent years. The presentation may be nothing to get excited about, the weapons and gametypes may be more of the same we’ve seen popularized by bigger and better titles, but Hybrid succeeds greatly right where it counts. By spicing up the mechanic that is used so often in games with more going for them, Hybrid proves its worth as a definite gaming gem, and is well deserving to be given a shot by gamers everywhere.
Release date : 2012-08-08
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : 5TH Cell
Gameplay : Shooter
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