Hybrid takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth where two factions, the Variants and the Paladins, are battling it out all over the world over “dark matter”. As soon as you start the game you will be asked to choose a faction. Both are identical in terms of weapons and movement but there are visual differences between them. After you have chosen a faction you taken to the battle map, which shows you the progress of the current "season". Seasons are what the game calls its online game sessions; the first faction that collects 100 dark matter samples wins the season.
As soon as your game begins, you will choose a continent to play on and be shown the progress of your selected faction on the map. The progress meter shows, in terms of each region, which have been conquered, haven’t been conquered, and the overall status of both factions. I would describe it like the board game Risk, where the ultimate goal is global domination. The more you fight in a region, the more progress your faction gains towards obtaining the dark matter. If your faction is the first to conquer the region, then you will gain two samples of dark matter. All is not lost however as the second team will collect one dark matter sample. This is an innovative and addictive take on the genre. Instead of simply just hopping into a game and the action, you have to figure out the best region to join in order to help your team achieve victory. Certain regions will also give you bonuses such as extra XP if your faction is in the lead.
Although you will fight in regions all over the world, the maps are the same no matter which region you choose. This isn’t a bad thing; the maps all provide some variety and different locals so they feel different in various regions. In terms of game modes, you can expect the normal offerings from a multiplayer shooter game. There is team deathmatch, various king of the hill variants, artifact (which is a kill the carrier type game mode), and a search and destroy type game mode with limited lives.
In terms of gameplay, Hybrid is not your typical shooter. You do not physically control where your character moves; instead you move from cover to cover with the use of your jetpack. Simply look at a place you want to take cover behind, press the A button and you are on your way. Cover in this game is the difference between life and death. Constantly flying out in the open is a great way to get killed because players already in cover will pick you off instantly. This changes up the typical run and gun gameplay formula and forces you to think about when and where you move. Of course, you can shoot when you are flying through the air and sometimes, with the right weapons, this can work in your favor. If you are in cover and an enemy is on the opposite end, you can use the shoot button to blindfire over cover and take out the enemy.
You also have many abilities at your disposal such as grenades which, when aimed well, can take out multiple enemies hiding in cover at once or perhaps a teleport option that will instantly teleport you to cover. This can be used as a way to get out of a sticky situation in hurry or to surprise an enemy and take them out before they even know what hit them. Abilities can only be used once and have a cool down period before they can be used again so deciding when to use your abilities is critical to success. There are also a plethora of weapons that you can use in the game but they have to be unlocked. Every game you play nets you XP and when you reach higher levels, you gain the ability to unlock new weapons, abilities, enhancements or new helmets for your character.
Unfortunately, the game features somewhat of a “pay to win” system. Everything can be unlocked after leveling up your character but they can also be unlocked with credits; credits can be unlocked with real money. I understand that you don’t have to pay for these items if you don’t want to but it’s unfortunate that players can spend some credits to unlock the best abilities and weapons and then stomp low level characters. The game also has some balancing issues. For example, the teleport ability combined with the double barrel shotgun makes you an unstoppable killing machine. You will often be in cover and an enemy will teleport to you and kill you with one shot before you even have a chance to react. Another big problem with the game is the matchmaking system. While finding a game to play is fast and easy, you will most likely find yourself staring at a loading screen for minutes while it populates the lobby and gets the game initially set up. This is a minor inconvenience which will hopefully be fixed with a patch sometime in the near future.
Those issues aside this game is incredibly fun and addicting. Games are short, lasting usually less than five minutes but are full of fast, exciting action. You will most likely keep telling yourself “just one more game” and before you know it, the sun is coming up. I also found that the online community for this game takes this game more seriously than other shooters out there. You have to think two steps ahead of your opponents in this game. You have to decide when it’s the best time to move, the best time to fall back, the best time to use your abilities, and keep an eye on the screen at all times to keep track of your enemies. Battles are fast and intense and I have had countless, heart racing rounds where both teams were tied with seconds left in the match and ends up being decided by a single point.
In the end, Hybrid is one of the most unique, fun and addicting games that I’ve played all year. For $15, this game is well worth the money and will keep you playing nonstop to get to that next level and earn your next unlock. It pushes you to come back again and again and again. If you are burnt out on first- or third-person, run and gun shooters, then you will find Hybrid to be a welcome change of pace.
Companies: 5TH Cell
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Addicting and fun, Hybrid proves to be a fresh and enjoyable experience on the XBLA. You will easily get your $15 out of the experience thanks to the drive to come back and get to the next level.
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