Hybrid Hands-On Preview -- Taking Cover Based Combat To The ExtremeBy Jonathan Deesing - Posted Jun 07, 2012
5th Cell, the developer behind the popular puzzle game Scribblenauts, has made it clear that they don’t intend to be pigeonholed into making a specific type of game. Their newest title, Hybrid is heading to the Xbox Live Arcade this summer and is just about as far as a Nintendo DS puzzle game as you can get.
Built from the ground up as an arcade title, Hybrid is a third-person shooter with a solitary focus on multiplayer. Taking the idea of cover-based combat to an extreme, Hybrid only allows players to move to and from cover; there is no time during which your character is running around. Aiming at a wall or barrier highlights it, and one button will prompt your character to fly toward it. You can also shift around areas already offering cover, strafing around enemies that may be nearby. When your character is flying in between cover he can shoot enemies, but it is quite a bit more difficult.
While this may sound a bit extreme—and trust me it takes a while to get used to—after a minute it becomes fairly intuitive. Add to that the ability to take cover on ceilings for extra tactical maneuvering, and the game starts to come together. As 5th Cell creative director Jeremiah Slaczka explains, “we wanted to make something that mimicked real war.”
As with most multiplayers, Hybrid features a leveling system and a variety of loadouts. These include abilities (one such ability, teleport, when combined with a shotgun, made for some devious kills) and unique weapons. Killstreaks are simple and helpful, coming at one, three, and five kills; mostly in the form of some kind of robot adding to your massacres. The game features ten maps and six different gameplay modes, including a capture the flag and king of the hill-esque game type.
When they begin, players can choose one of two factions and continue to fight for that faction whenever they pick up the game. Your points in the game pool with points from every other player within your faction; combining into an overall score across a worldwide map, or as Slaczka calls it, “a huge worldwide event.” The scores break down into regions across the world, allowing for even more localized competition. Most important, the game takes place on one server so worldwide scores don’t vary server-by-server.
The game is not without its downfalls however. Its nature as an XBLA multiplayer title could very well lead consumers to ignore it in favor of more robust titles. Further, the cover-only combat does feel restrictive and without large maps will make the game feel dreadfully dull in a short amount of time. Finally, placing the game on one server presents the obvious problems of lag and latency issues.
Nevertheless, I think Hybrid has serious potential to be a knockout XBLA title. If nothing else, it may make some gamers question why they’re spending $60 for a multiplayer title when they can get one for much cheaper without even leaving the couch.