As part of this year’s Summer of Arcade, Hybrid is the only shooter released and is also surrounded by a lot of eagerly awaited titles. Shown for the first time a couple of years ago, 5th Cell took a step in a different direction from the popular Scribblenauts series they are known for, and there was speculation whether their first Xbox Live Arcade game would be a success. So, how did it turn out? Let’s find out!
The world has been split into two major factions known as the Paladins and the Variants. These factions are all fighting over Dark Matter that has been found on each continent on the planet, and you get to choose which side you would like to fight for. There’s nothing different about each faction in terms of their equipment but, of course, they have very different looks, which will be your deciding factor. Once you’ve pledged your allegiance you are taken straight into the tutorial that explains how the mechanics of the game work – which can be a little confusing at first!
The first thing you’re going to notice is that you do not have the ability to walk or run, in fact, you spend most of your time in the air supported by your very own jetpack. Cover can be found on the floor as you’d expect but also on the walls and ceiling. This requires you to keep an eye on a lot of different places at once but also allows you and your team to execute some unique flanking. While taking cover you can switch which side of it you’d like be on with a simple tap of a button, and you can also retreat back to the previous cover swiftly too. While jumping between cover you can shoot, use your equipment and boost that makes the matches quite frantic.
As you’d expect to find in a shooter, you have a lot of weapons available to you, such as shotguns, pistols and assault rifles and a variety of equipment options from grenades to temporary attack and defence improvements. You can also set an ability that will alter your character’s stats a little. If you’ve got enough MSP to spend you can unlock all of the weapons, equipment and abilities straight off the bat, but for most players, levelling up will be required to unlock points that can then be used to purchase the goods. This was an interesting feature to add to Hybrid, and although it’s nice for people to have the choice, it’s a little frustrating seeing a level one rocking whatever weapon they feel like. Also, XP boosts can be purchased with MSP too, which will greatly increase how much experience points you gain each game for up to seven days.
There are a variety of different modes in Hybrid but the most popular ones are Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill. To get to a match you must navigate the world map and look at which parts of the world are currently contested. Once you’ve chosen a place to fight, you can either go in alone or form a three-man squad to enter with. At the beginning of each match you choose a personal mission, such as get x amount of kills or get x amount of headshot which, if completed during the next match, will reward you with some bonus experience points.
Getting a kill streak in a match rewards players with a drone to help them take down their enemy. These come in three different varieties: The Stalker is unlocked after one kill and is a reliable yet weak helper who will not move and be blown to pieces fairly quickly. The Warbringer has a lot more armour and firepower, it actively searches for enemies to kill and is unlocked after three kills. The final drone you can unlock is the Preyon, which you gain after five kills. The Preyon is a very special drone that hones in on a target and will stick it’s sword through him/her for an instant death. This is a nice reward for getting five kills, which can be tricky at times, and helps control the battlefield in a tight spot.
While Hybrid does sound pretty good from what has been said above there are a few things that really haven’t done it any favours. The maps can get a little repetitive and it’s a shame there wasn’t some more variety with the use of cover, such as vertical tunnels. Another, very annoying, thing that seems to have been overlooked is the combination of the shotgun and teleport skills. In a game where jumping from cover to cover and setting up a good flank is the advertised play style, having someone teleport next to you and one shot you really spoils what makes Hybrid great, and when you enter a match and everyone and their mum has the same setup, it can be downright boring.
Aside from these nit-picks, Hybrid is a brilliant game and deserves its place in the Summer of Arcade. While there are better squad-based games available out there, Hybrid offers a very different style of gameplay and has a decent levelling system that will have you fighting for your side for quite some time. If you have the spare MSP it might be worth giving this one a go.