8.0 Overall Score

Fantastic, innovative gameplay.

Servers still don't feel populated, microtransactions can be off-putting

Written by on August 16, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , ]

So I’ve been playing Hybrid for a while now. To get the early party out of the way; Hybrid is great, and I want more people to play Hybrid.

Still here? Fine, I guess I’ll review it. And stop playing for a while. SIGH.

Hybrid is a third-person cover based shooter with a persistent online faction system and a whole host of unlockable (or buyable…more on that later) perks. The twist with Hybrid is you don’t have direct control over your character. Instead you “hop” from cover to cover with a jet pack and shoot from spots on the ground, ceilings, or walls. The problem with Hybrid is that mechanic doesn’t sound fun or interesting at all. It sounds like you’re one of several turrets looking for a head to shot. Here’s the thing. A match of Hybrid is utter bedlam.

In a given match I’ll be boosting and dodging my way to cover to cover, using a warbringer and a shield to push a position, and swapping between blindfire and aimed shots to put as many people down as possible. None of those mechanics are new. Sprint mechanics, blindfire, perks and killstreak powers, all of these have become staples of cover-based shooters. The beauty of Hybrid is the implementation. Everything feels useful and necessary, even normally wonky abilities like blindfire. Hybrid doesn’t move faster or better than Gears or Call of Duty, but the movement mechanic and the everpresent cover means you never worry about that movement, which opens the player’s attention up for situational awareness.

Being aware of what’s happening while controlling a dude is one of the hardest concepts to execute in any game. A huge part of the learning curve of any game is controlling your character and learning to make it do what you want, then working on the rest. By removing half of that issue from the game you enter Hybrid able to immediately contribute to a game. There’s no fumbling into cover or stopping dead to fire off a shot. One button has taken care of my movement. I can augment that and juke around if I think about it, but if I’m brand new and need to focus on aiming and shooting, that’s all I need to spend time worrying about, moving takes care of itself. The difference between blindfire and aimed shots is immediate and educational; it takes two unfortunate deaths to learn this and how to apply each.

I still don’t think this adequately describes Hybrid, but it’s as close as I can get. The game just clicks. Gunplay feels good, the shooting is nice, and despite connection issues and some wonky bouncing around I never felt my deaths were cheap. Those deaths came primarily from people who were simply practiced and better. I’m looking forward to getting there.

So, that’s the stuff I adore about Hybrid. And you should definitely be playing it. Here’s the stuff that wasn’t as fun. It begins with the matchmaking. Hybrid is an online-only game, and the heart of it is based around the (nebulously described at best) war between the two in-game factions. Even in the first week of the game in the middle of summer finding a pickup game took up to five minutes. That raises major concerns about the longevity of Hybrid, which is really unfortunate. There’s a lot going on here that’s amazing, and the worst thing ever would be to see it dry up by December.

The only real complaint I could have with Hybrid is the marketing scheme behind it. Hybrid has a level-based progression that offer new unlocks from a selection. Or you could pay some money. Yes, microtransactions are the wave of the future, and there’s nothing wrong with paying for content, but dropping these payments on top of a $15 game feels grabby, and that might be a turn off for some players.

Regardless of the issues, Hybrid is fantastic and exciting because it’s something new in a genre that’s full of the same iterative bullshit, and it accomplishes something new by taking away from the formula, not adding another gimmick to the scheme. I’ve always been a huge of minimalist design, and seeing it pulled off successfully in this kind of shooter is a true delight. Don’t just play Hybrid because it’s great, or because it’s different. Play it because 5th Cell has stepped away from puzzle games to take on shooters and made the best choice available to them; less is more.

A copy of Hybrid was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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