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Published August 28th 2012
Fun fast-paced multiplayer, with a unique spin
Hybrid is an online only multiplayer shooter that may proceed to melt your grey matter at first, the simplistic premise turns into a chaotic and frantic battle for survival with a key focus on strategy to succeed. Once you wrap your head around this cover based shooter, you are in for some fun and unique gameplay, which is out of this world.
Hybrid is a sci-fi third person shooter, developed by 5th Cell Interactive (Scribblenauts fame) and published by Microsoft Studios as an Xbox 360 exclusive title. Hybrid's "story" revolves around 2 factions (The Paladins and Variants) fighting over a substance known as Dark Matter, when you first boot up Hybrid you will be asked to choose a side. This will be the faction you fight for during the game, battles are found in the global map. These maps showcase the certain battles for Dark Matter that are occurring around the planet, each faction tries their best to win more battles to reach the Dark Matter for that particular location first. This method works well, highlighting "The Hot Spot" where most of the matches are taking place currently; it always does a great job of funneling you towards the action. Finding matches improved during my time with Hybrid as more people jumped online, the wait was usually around 15-20 seconds.
The game provides your typical modes such as Team Deathmatch, point capture modes such as King of the Hill and Crazy Kings. But also a mode called Artifact where team members must capture a certain object, then hold it as long as possible. Holding increases your points total and even though the points are earnt separately, this brings the team together by defending each other to gain those few extra points closer to victory.
During matches you will only be able to move your player from designated cover positions, and you do so with your trusty jet pack. These maneuvers allow you to strafe in flight, boost your way to cover or even take a quick glance down your sights to fire at your enemy. Aiming down the sights however will slow you down, leaving you a sitting duck for enemy fire, but blind fire will not hinder your flight. The shooting feels smooth and responsive, with some battles turning into a hectic scramble to fill your opponent with hot lead, you will greatly appreciate the control of your space aged weaponry.
Each of Hybrid's maps offer a small battlefield. This is a good thing because the action can get very fast paced and moving from cover to cover for minutes at a time would take away from the action. Although the maps do offer small variations, such as shooting upside down behind cover, they all feel very similar. They feel like generic sci-fi looking maps with slight differentials to the colour scheme. This is not a huge issue, but nothing feels iconic or has the ability to standout.
The game offers a bare bones leveling system, every so often when you level (Gaining experience from matches via kills, headshots and general ownage) you will be given the choice to unlock a gun, or ability. Accessing your 'Armoury' will allow you to decide which selection to unlock; the options are fairly small and did not make that much difference during gameplay. There is a second option to skip the leveling altogether with micro transactions, meaning you could hop in and purchase all the abilities available to make your perfect load-out off the bat. The option is nice for players, but does provide a certain issue.
Some of the Special Weapons available are greatly overpowered; having a Level 4 on your opposing team who knows how to wield these overpowered weapons almost means certain doom. They do not seem to run out of ammo, nor do they take long to reload, this is an issue that needs addressing as you will be contained to a 'Loop of Death' during your match.
Games themselves run smoothly. Lag was never an issue for me during my lengthy time online. Few glitches did occur where I would get stuck in a loop, moving from my previous cover point to the next until my untimely death, but this only occurred twice. The main issue is sound; the music itself will drop out during the main menu screen, for music during the games and sadly during the noise of the actual gameplay. During games this becomes an issue as one of the kill streaks awarded relies on sound for you to avoid the long sword of death.
Kill streaks are awarded in the way of drones, ranging from a Stalker (Small, weak drone with some decent firepower), Warbringer (Heavily armoured drone with some tough military capabilities) and then the ultimate sword wielding killing machine known as the Preyon. The Preyon can be sent out once awarded and will hunt down your closest enemy for a one hit kill, problem is the only way to avoid this ability is to hear the 'Witch' like scream before hunting down its prey.
Once you hear this noise, you know it is on your tail and your frantic search to kill or be killed begins. The audio issues affect your ability to defend yourself. Imagine moving from cover points to be randomly attacked by the Preyon without hearing their horrifying screech; it's frustrating, especially when the noise begins when your lifeless carcass is already bouncing around the floor.
Issues aside, Hybrid becomes a joy to play. Though getting your head around the cover point premise definitely takes its getting used to, this idea becomes frantic fast-paced fun. Rolling around with a jet pack and three drones by your side, you can turn into the ultimate wrecking crew, destroying enemies with ease. This is online multiplayer with a unique twist that will capture your attention if you stick with it. My time with Hybrid became more enjoyable the more hours I sunk in, mastering the strategy behind the cover system, taking those few extra seconds to flank the enemy from behind and score a bunch of kills, these are all great moments. This unique idea sets itself apart from the run-gun mentality of Call of Duty or the hardcore nature of Counter Strike, but it is able to provide an experience that, quite frankly, cannot be found anywhere else.
This game is not without issues, audio, generic maps and with no offline story mode. But Hybrid offers a unique style of gameplay that is just waiting to hook its cover based claws into your gaming hands. This is a great experience and Hybrid turns and walks the other way from the generic war shooter. 5th Cell have been able to create a fun experience for Xbox 360 gamers, but with all online only shooters the game will only survive with a strong community, which will hopefully be able to keep this title alive for months to come.
Fast paced action
Fun multiplayer experience
Not your typical war shooter
Audio issues affect gameplay
Generic level visuals
Bare-bones leveling system
No offline mode