Review by bbears

Reviewed: 09/14/12

Original Concept but Bad Impletation

Hybrid is XBLA online only shooter that emphasizes cover mechanics and a new movement style. Most of the game is very much your ordinary third person shooter. The weapons are uninspiring and sports a generic sci-fi setting with mediocre graphics. And having your game be all about cover to cover movement is definitely not an original thing. But Hybrid reinvents how you get from cover to cover. Namely that you have no free movement and can only jet from cover point to cover point. This with open ended and small maps makes the games very frantic and gives the possibility of strategy. Unfortunately Hybrid has a pay to win business model and lacks a depth of content.

The presentation in Hybrid is what you would expect from a $15 XBLA budget title. Textures are low quality and the environments have a pronounced color contrast look. Being a sc-fi shooter the charcter and weapon models look like they could have been taken from any one of numerable other games in the genre. The music is forgettable also being generic dubstep. Along with the rest of the game the sound effects could be pulled straight from any other game. That said Hybrid runs at a smooth 60 frames per second. Although minimal, the function over form attitude suits the game well and you will enjoy a bug free experience.

Hybrid is a third person cover shooter. While there are many games like this, Hybrid stands out because there is no movement outside of the cover system itself. Like most cover games you have quick run mechanic to the next cover point, in Hybrid this is achieved with jet packs in open vertical environments. Once you get to the next cover point using only the a to b to jet mechanic you cannot move away from cover. You can move side to side against the cover or jump over the other side of the cover, but not detach and move freely from it. While in midair traveling to the next cover you can do some limited strafing. Also you change which cover you are goimg to in mid flight and also retreat back to where took off from originally. But all of these movement are button presses, again there is no free movement of any sort. While this might sound limiting great map design really makes the odd mechanic feel very hectic and keeps the action flowing. All the cover is stationary but some of it is on walls and even the ceiling. This means unusual angles for engaging you enemy are a frequent occurrence. Every cover point is vulnerable from multiple fronts as well. This is not normal for a cover based shooter but forces players to constantly move to avoid being flanked. Which turns out to be a great way to solve one of cover based shooters biggest problems, camping is pretty much suicide. The maps look open but are actually pretty small and the limited movement almost creates “highways” where all the action takes place. And all this can actually can be quite fun. Unfortunately there are only 3 game modes and a handful of maps. All the game mode are team based and shooter genre staples. The other big problem with the gameplay is all modes only allow 3 vs. 3. There are never more than 6 people in a game and if a player leaves your team mid game that becomes a crippling disadvantage. Upping the teams to 4v4 or 5v5 would have been a huge improvement. While an interesting concept the lack of content does not keep your attention long with so many other shooters out there. The progression system is also standard fare but there is a real difference between the lower and high levels. Online only a is detriment to this game because budget shooters don't have a long shelf life on consoles. It won't be long before the game's queue is empty.

I also want to mention the business model for the game. Normally it isn't important but along with paying the $15 price to buy the game you also have to contend with other players ability to buy (with real money) their way to a powerful character. There is large difference between say a level 20 and level 30 player. Buying the powerful level 30 gear fundamentally unbalances the game greatly. Every once is a while you run into someone like this who will be obviously more powerful than their level should dictate. This is and always should be a bad business model for the publisher to make as much money quickly as they can. And is another reason the needed community won't develop around this indie online title.

With every thing said Hybrid is an enjoyable title but the nature of online only indie titles means there is only really a short time the game will have full queues. The buy power is is a huge turn off to me personally but I would recommend playing the trial. The trial gives you one hour of complete game access, but I wouldn't recommend spending money on it.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Hybrid (US, 08/08/12)

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