How many times, while playing your third-person shooter of choice have you thought, “Gee, I wish I could jetpack over to the enemy territory”? Well the people over at 5th Cell Media thought just that and brought it to life in the new Xbox Live Arcade release Hybrid. This creative title brings TPS elements to a sci-fi-futuristic arena, complete with robotic armor and automated drones.
Story-wise, there is no deep tale to throw you into Hybrid‘s universe. The setting takes place in a distant future where zones (countries) fight for Dark Matter. You’re driven to participate in different game modes, while winning generates you more resources and XP. You can travel across the globe gaining more XP and benefits from selected “hot zones” to compete in. The two factions available give you a different assortment of weapons with their own upsides and drawbacks. The game is all online-multiplayer so there’s no single player campaign around to delve further into the story.
Hybrid has familiar antics as most shooters but it takes a risk with its controls. The maps along with everyone’s gravity-defying knapsacks call players to hurdle between cover and maneuver by air to each platform. After a few minutes of practice the basic controls quickly come together. Vaulting, alternating weapons and dashing with your jetpack will become generally easy.
However, the real challenge is when you are clinging to the ceiling and shooting, or flying while trying to avoid enemy fire. Plus, kill streak robots add to the ridiculousness tied to taking down opponenets mid-flight. There are three different varieties, each only require you to get a few kills and they help keep some of the heat off your back. At first, you will notice how they get destroyed fast. But you’ll learn they’re great distractions and double your individual fire power when they mark enemies.
The different game modes are generic: Team Deathmatch (of course), Overlord, Artifact, King Of The Hill, Crazy Kings, and Tactics. Regardless of the mode, it’s always 3-on-3. The modes vary from bomb planting, base capturing, and different variations of team deathmatch. Nothing really stand out here. Since there is not a lot of movement outside of jetting from covers, 5TH Cell kept matches simple. The straightforward approach makes sure the usual bases are covered but may leave some players wanting more.
Graphics are a strong point with this title. The developers paid close attention to detail in the everything from armor, robots and the scenery. Also, screen tearing never became an issue and the framerate always gave me a solid, smooth gaming experience. It’s a pleasure to see an XBLA title giving you all your money’s worth. With that said, Hybrid gets fickle when it comes to upgrades. You can progress slowly with normal currency generated from XP but they nickle and dime you for more in-game currency.
Overall, Hybrid shines. It’s different in a positive way and the learning curve is pretty low if you are familiar with third person shooters. However the level of competition and difficulty always progress. Lots of upgrades and the sharp, clean graphics make the title satisfying to pick up daily.
Hybrid has faults but deserves a shot if you’re up for a challenge not usually seen in other shooters.