Posted on August 9, 2012 AT 08:51pm
The Summer Of Arcade is in full swing, with the release of several high-profile arcade games for the Xbox 360. One of these games, the innovative third-person shooter Hybrid, has released to high praise, and with good reason. 5th Cell, the same studio that brought fans the hit game Scribblenauts, went a bit out of their comfort zone with this cover-based shooter, a fact that is apparent by the realization that this game is nothing like any third-person shooter currently on the market.
Being an online only game, players fight against the gaming community as one of two factions: the Variants, and the Paladins, in a war that spans the entire globe for a rare, integral resource called Dark Matter. Over the course of several dozen battles, the warring factions move closer and closer to the center, pushing back and forth against one another in a desperate attempt to reach the Dark Matter before their foes.
The war itself is a constantly fought campaign, progressing on a twenty-four hour basis until all territories are claimed. A player could fight all day to gain a highly-contested territory, and even while being in full command of the territory before logging off, could find that the enemy has taken that zone after the next login. This dynamic keeps players coming back for more, wanting to continually help influence the course of the battle at large.
Because the game has only recently released as of this review, there are only a few maps, which appear at random regardless of territory or country. While the maps are pretty simple, the innovative ways the fighting system is used continues to make things interesting regardless of how many times the map has been played. To go along with these maps are several game modes, some that pretty standard with most shooters, and others that feel completely new. The standard Team Deathmatch is the most popular, along with staples such as King Of The Hill and it’s counterpart, Crazy Kings, which moves the capture points throughout the map. The more innovative modes, Artifact and Overlord, which aren’t completely new modes, but ones that are unique within the concept of the game. Artifact is similar to Capture The Flag, where a player holds the “artifact” as points begin to build until a final score is reached, losing the artifact when killed. Overlord is similar, with an added concept of Capture The Leader thrown in. A player is named Overlord, and with each kill, players gain levels, which add to a damage increase, with levels decreasing each time a player is killed. These game modes, mixed and matched with the several available maps, makes for an experience that doesn’t get old too quickly.
The innovations to gameplay is what really sets this game apart, however. Constants in shooters, such as running or walking, are pretty much nonexistent, replaced by a cover-based jet pack system, which shoots players from cover point to cover point. Players can dodge, shoot, reload, and at the press of a button, retreat back to the previous cover point. Cover is easily the most important portion of the game, with the entirety of the game focused on moving in and out of cover, with cover points in every direction, using all four sides of a room as a potential cover point. Players can hang upside-down or on the sides of walls, giving unique vantage points throughout each map. The addition of drones also adds to the experience, with three levels of drones given as a kill streak progresses. One kills gives players a Stalker, a drone that follows and shoots with the player as they travel along the map. Three unleashes the Warbringer, a hulking drone with high defense and damaging guns. Manage to get five kills, and the nearly unstoppable Preyon is available. The Preyon is a terrifying drone that targets an individual player, unleashing a piercing shriek before attacking players with a sword that instantly kills the target.
Along with the drones, players have a plethora of weapon combinations, ranging from the basic sniper rifles, shotguns and assault rifles to unique weapons such as the Trident rocket launcher and the Gambler heavy pistol, which is either devastating or deadly, nearly instantly killing the players intended target or the player themselves, depending on luck and percentages. The sheer level of customization in an indie title is incredibly impressive, with various helmets and skill sets to choose from, including a specific special ability ranging from frag grenades to team healing, and a specialization such as extra experience or increased weapon damage.
While the graphics don’t blow anyone away, they are serviceable, with detail crossing the vast maps without a lot of issues. The online servers have done a great job so far as well, with disconnects (aside from the day one server crash) few and far between, with very little lag issues. Very rarely is there any innovation that occurs in the shooter genre, but 5th Cell’s Hybrid definitely does the trick, offering a fresh and unique take on the shooter genre. Shooter fans, especially those who play online, are missing out on an innovative and incredibly fun arcade title if they miss out on playing Hybrid. 5th Cell’s first foray into the shooter genre is a great one, using their inexperience in the field to their advantage, creating a special and truly different game that no shooter fans should miss out on.
The Good: Innovative Game Play, Good Online Service
The Bad: Mediocre Graphics
The Ugly: N/A
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