Hybrid Review

In the video game market, new games- especially shooters, are almost always under high scrutiny and face fierce competition from longstanding series’ and antique games alike. Not only does a new shooter need to bring something unique or never before seen to the mix, but it also needs to be fun, invigorating, and hook players- tying them in to the game and pulling them in again and again. At a first glance at the game, it may seem that Hybrid does this to great success, however- much like the seedy underbelly of a big city hidden by a facade of nice locals and beautiful scenery, the jetpack strategy added to the formula is simply not as perfect in this case. With a strategic and interesting cover system, jetpacking elements throughout freerunning combat, and a novelty experience, you would think that Hybrid has most things going for it. This is sadly not the case at all.

Although many downloadable games are not expected to possess much in the way of a story, at least a coherent attempt at one is usually met with pleasant surprise on the part of fans- of course, this is far from the case for Hybrid, and that is where it’s problems truly start. With a cliched and convoluted plot dumbed down to essentially “Aliens and humans are fighting for control of the Earth. Choose your faction. Fight for resources.” Hybrid starts off on what soon turns from an interesting gameplay arc to an incredibly bland and repetitive one. The two factions within the game- the Variants and Paladins, vie for resources that are drying up around the world on one of the few interesting gizmos within the game- an incredible expanse of a map that should represent the Earth. The main goals are essentially to collect as many resources and hotspots as possible, and to beat back any approaching enemies from other factions in your ally-controlled zones and areas on the map. While there are no areas that are off limits, you will notice varying degrees of difficulty in certain hotspots and locales, and will be rewarded with additional experience and accolades accordingly based on your performances under fire in these areas. What is extremely interesting in another of the few enjoyable gadgets within the game, is the fact that you can either trust your teammates to gain rewards for the team, or lone wolf things and only get extra credit for yourself. This makes for some interesting moral choices, as well as for great griefing opportunities- if that’s your thing I suppose. It is truly an interestingly realistic approach to life or death situations however, as- when the lines are drawn, you will see who has their own interests or those of the team in mind as they prepare to do battle for blood and glory…

There is a good level of choice and strategy present within the game, and the featured side-missions within matches do tend to make going out of your way to get certain kills or perks seem interesting and fun to obtain, however this is usually not worth the minimal amount of extra experience due to the long wait for matchmaking games to start, and the bland lobby features. It is fun and interesting how you can uniquely shape your character from the get-go however, as there are a nominal amount of extras and equipment items you can add and purchase to better your looks and play-styles as well. For all of the game modes that the game offers- which aren’t too many to tell the truth, none are truly unique to Hybrid alone- as many are simply variants of the usual deathmatch, capture the flag/area, or king of the hill. This was somewhat of a letdown, because with a creative pedigree such as 5th Cell’s- you’d think they could have at least came up with a few unique game modes on their own for Hybrid when it released, instead of simply mooching off of the same modes seen in games since the early 90’s… Their loss…

Once more, as a player, I must say that the impressive amount of customizable additions to the cosmetics, weapons, and abilities of your character are commendable, and one of the few things that 5th Cell actually managed to correctly do with Hybrid, so good job. There are plenty of choices to be made over character creation, and the fact that new players aren’t necessarily in the hole when facing more advanced ones is good as well- as is the fact that, although you can purchase better weapons or unlockables rather than earning them outright, your player never actually feels or seems underpowered without them throughout the game. It’s a good thing that the game isn’t a simple pay-to-win one, as that would skew things entirely too much and be no fun whatsoever. As it is, the game has a hard time holding it’s own anyhow…

While a straight up firefight, as overdone as it seems, is interesting and fast-paced enough for many players, 5th Cell decided to go the extra mile and add in a little something else to make the game even more hectic and crazy throughout combat- jetpacks. The biggest shame is that the game’s main gimmick doesn’t even deliver, or at least not as well as it should have- given the amount of time they supposedly worked on perfecting these rocket-propelled actions and animations or control levels. Not only are you limited to only being able to fly cover to cover, and not fly freely to evade enemy fire, but the jetpacking controls are wonky to begin with- which certainly does nothing to help your case during combat situations. The only semi-saving grace for the jetpacking elements of the game are the strafing and boost elements that you can choose to use between covers, or to quickly change directions mid-flight. While these don’t work very well either, they are certainly better than simply flying into your enemy’s line of sight and being shot down like some fowl out of a Duck Hunt game. Problems with lack of control and overshooting cover mean you will die several times before you get the hang of the faulty maneuvering controls, but it is mostly worth it once you do have them down as, wonky as they are, jetpacks are still great fun to toy around with.

One of the (both) interesting and frustrating elements of Hybrid is the fact that you are never truly safe from enemy fire or attacks. With opponents swarming your position from all directions, the cover system easily provides the need and means to secure a new location before you can safely resume your attacks. Suffice it to say, although the system has it’s flaws, the battles are intense and you will need every bit of those vaulting and strafing skills if you wish to even have a hope of making it out alive- much less victorious. Another interesting break in gameplay comes in the form of the kill streak rewards for the game. Instead of the norm, players earn different drones based on their tactical prowess upon the battlefield. Kill a few people and you’ll earn a weak drone that attracts incoming fire, but kill dozens of enemies and you have earned yourself a real treat in the form of a self-sufficient monster to take down even the toughest foes for a short while, and to attract their attention and fire while you sneak up on their positions and stealthily take them out. Drones make for a wonderful turn and burn in games and strategy, and certainly keep your enemies on their toes as well throughout the already intense combat scenarios. As awesome as these drones sound however, they are inevitably flawed as with every other element of the game, as they often move into your line of fire, deflecting your bullets and grenades easier than those of your enemies. It may make the game more realistic, but that doesn’t make missing a kill because you shot your own drone any less frustrating…

With all of the variety seen in character customization and classes, you would expect to see the same level of customized maps and a variety of interesting locales- however, ultimately you would be sorely disappointed. You could play through the (maybe) ten maps that the game offers, and think that there are really only about four different ones, as they are so similar in looks and layout that they all seem to blend together into one big area of bland, uninteresting slag. You would think that a producer as talented as that of the Scribblenauts series would be able to make some original and entertaining maps for one shooter game, but apparently not. All in all, you can’t really depend on the neat gizmos showcased in all of Hybrid’s hype, as they will ultimately let you down as you flail away at this not-entirely sound game. I wouldn’t call it broken, but it sure is extremely skewed and flawed in more ways than one. I was really hoping some of the game’s more interesting elements would show off and stand out, but that is quite simply not the case, and ultimately the game just turned out to be one disappointment after the next. If you are looking for a generic and decent shooter to waste ten to fifteen dollars on, then this is your game- just don’t expect the experience to be very memorable… For all of it’s efforts, it is ultimately a mediocre attempt at a new take on the third person genre.

Concept: Make an interesting multiplayer-based third-person shooter with integrated jetpacking and rocket fighting mechanics and a cover-to-cover system.

Graphics: The graphics look nice throughout the game, however the lack of variety in environments and areas mean that the same steel doors and walls are inevitably seen over and over again and become boring and obtrusive to the eyes.

Sound: There is more music to be found in the pre-game lobby than matches themselves, and even that is few and far between in interesting soundtracks or ambient noises. Not much to listen to truthfully.

Playability: The controls are easy to pick up, albeit flawed severely in most cases. Long times in between matches mean you will constantly be bored out of your mind when not rocketing around the maps shooting your enemies to pieces.

Entertainment: Flawed as it is, the game is decently fun and even with it’s lack of face and story, the customizable elements and the design makes it an interesting multiplayer shooter at least. For what it lacks in innovation and creativity, it makes for an okay pause from Battlefield and Call of Duty games.

Replay Value: Moderately Low

Overall Score: 6.5

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