XBLA Review: Hybrid

When I imagine a future where everyone has jetpacks, I see freedom. Humans would have a chance to explore massive worlds, enjoying panoramic views, and, in the case of combat, scrambling in all possible directions in a swirling and wonderful melee. In Hybrid, my jetpack future is reduced to compacted corridors and odd point-to-point movement, and my combat is a very basic 3rd person shooting with a few drones thrown in for variety’s sake. Despite the ability to fly around the environment, Hybrid only achieves the one thing it should not: claustrophobia.

Hybrid takes place in the distant future during what I’m assuming from too many game premises is the inevitable war between humanity and machines. When you first sign on, you’ll play through the tutorial, hopefully only once. The game oddly sent me through the tutorial several times (perhaps it felt I needed a refresher at level 11). After the tutorial, you’ll be able to side with either the humans or the machines. The most interesting part of the game is the overworld map. The two sides are in constant battle over the entire globe, and you can choose what portion of the Earth to fight over (I saw that North America was the favorite, unsurprisingly). Battles over particular hotspots result in experience bonuses. Enough XP accrued and you can take over a position, defeating your foe and sending them back. Of course, all of these events result from the actually battles you’ll fight in the game.

Hybrid consists of 3 on 3 matches of various kinds. Death match was of course the favorite, but also making appearances were king of the hill (hold this moving position the longest) and artifact (hold the artifact for the longest) modes. That was the entirety of the gameplay options, and by the end of the first hour of gameplay, I’d been through every map and tried every mode. In Halo-esque fashion, you get to vote on the map before each round. Most of them were devoid of character, save for the one map which allowed horizontal and upside-down play. The color palate seemed to be varying shades of gray. Some variety would have been welcome.

In game your will exist in one of two states- one ground in cover, or using your jetpack to move from one bit of cover to another. There is no free roaming aspect, which, given the jetpacks, just seems odd. You can fire your weapons while in transit, and you have speed burst as well (to get you out of those tight spots). Basically, you spawn, point your reticule at the next bit of cover, and fly to it. If you’re skilled, you can hit the next area without even touching the ground. Despite that, the entire movement apparatus felt constraining. When I think of flight, I think of freedom. The game system does little more than puts the clamps on.

The shooting is very, very basic. You’ll have one weapon (God help you if you chose the pistol) and one ability (grenades, mind you, are an ability). When you see your opponent, you fire a bunch of bullets at them until they are dead, pop up to shoot, and taking cover when they shoot at you. The weapons feel all wrong and lack weight- I was unable to tell the difference between the submachine gun, the assault rifle and the LMG. The only weapons that stuck out were the pistol (because it was plain awful) and the sniper rifle (because you could zoom in and get headshots). Generally, the shooting was nothing to write home about. And the grenade tossing was very difficult to master.

When you were successful, though, you built up kill streaks that allowed you deploy to drones. The Stalker covers your six and the Warbringer attacks the enemy with massive gunfire. My favorite (and my bane) was the Preyon. At five kills, the Preyons flies quickly out to an enemy and stabs them to death in an insta-kill. It’s a wonderful thing to see, and an awful thing to fall victim to. The drones streaks start over again once you hit 5 kills, and so, in classic Hybrid fashion, there’s not a lot to see.

That’s really the story of Hybrid: bare bones. There’s not much to the unlock system. The movement is bafflingly constraining. The shooting is at best vanilla, and the kill streaks, while entertaining, are minimal. It looks like a lot of work went into designing the well-conceived over-world, but, sadly, I don’t think there are going to be players around for long enough to appreciate it. A jetpack-enabled corridor shooter might entertain for a short while. But eventually, those players are going to be tugging at their bonds, and want to fly free.

Pros

  • Compelling overworld
  • Drones are fun
  • One map allowed you to fight sideways and upside-down

Cons

  • Constrained movement
  • Poor shooting
  • Lacks content- very bare bones in many respects

2/5

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Author: Tony Odett View all posts by
A member of the Perfectly Sane Show crew and Vagary.tv's Features Editor, Tony brings the smart and funny (and the rapine and pillage...). Also known as The Strategy Gamer, Tony declares it his duty to get as much coverage as possible for what should be everyone's most loved genre.