FIRST IMPRESSION: Hybrid
In 2032 a newly built Hadron Supercollider imploded, obliterating Australia. The world was sent into turmoil as an alternate reality collided with our own and from it emerged a species known as the Variant. Chaos ensued and world war broke out between the Variants and a group of rebel humans known as the Paladins.
The minds behind 5th Cell Media have undoubtedly created some of the better games on the Nintendo DS with Scribblenauts and Drawn To Life… so what’s next? Create a generic shooter of course! Okay, “generic” might be a bit harsh since there are some nice ideas in Hybrid and are, for the most part, carried out very competently but at the end of the day, it just isn’t for me.
Hybrid is a multiplayer, cover-based shooter that moves in a trench-warfare type progression in which ONLY movement from cover-to-cover is allowed (in other words, you fly from barricade to barricade). The movement itself is pretty easy to pick up but the gap in experiences of players is evident immediately as those who have been playing even a day longer will consistently lay waste to everyone who hasn’t put in a good amount of time learning the controls. The flying is somewhat slower than one would have expected from early trailers but necessary to allow for mid-air decisions on whether to continue to your targetted barricade, switching to another or falling back to your last position. The flow and movement of the game feels very much like if you strapped guns on chess pieces and put little walls to crouch behind every few spaces where methodical strategy will trump straight brute forcing almost every time.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an online shooter without a perk system! Hybrid differs somewhat from the pack in that everyone already gets a choice of the perk or “ability” they choose with their character load-out. The abilities range from defensive (such as taking less damage over a period of time) to offensive (increase damage for small burst) but even include team support (marking enemies on HUD) and personal gain (increase experience gain) which helps to distinguish different play styles that suit whatever mood the player might be in.
In-game, Hyrbrid rewards killstreaks by implimenting the ability to summon a minion robot based on the length of the killstreak. First is the Stalker, a robot that essentially just mimicks everything the player does. Second is a Warbringer; a heavily armored flying drone and last is a “Preyon” which is essentially a one-hit instant kill assassin that seeks out your opponent. The bots add a somewhat satisfying element to the 3-on-3 deathmatch dynamic since they’re so easy to get (one, three and five kill streaks) and actually can change the tide of a battle.
Overall, Hybrid IS, in fact, a totally competent Xbox Live Arcade title if you’re looking for another shooter to “own noobs” at. Unfortunately, all the neat ideas they’re going for fall flat in my mind and doom it to be easily forgotten about, even for a downloadable game.