Hybrid Beta: Impressions

by Adam Dileva

If you told me that the guys who made Scribblenauts were going to do a third person shooter on XBLA, I probably would have sarcastically rolled my eyes and chuckled, not because the team isn't talented, it just seems like it's so far outside their wheelhouse that I wouldn't know what to expect. Well, the time has come and the beta for Hybrid is here from 5th Cell, and to be quite honest, it wasn't even really on my radar until now.
Hybrid is essentially a third person cover based shooter; though not quite like anything you've played before. It's 3 vs 3 and will have you taking cover, flying to the next, and flanking enemies from above while inverted all while being a part of a much larger meta game that spans the globe.

The year is 2032 and a global conflict between the two factions, Variant and Paladins, has erupted after Australia has essentially been wiped off the face of the earth. Both factions fight over territory across the glove for a precious material called Dark Matter. Battlegrounds take place all over the globe, and your success or failure will impact the larger movement on a global scale.

Hybrid pits 3 vs 3 in a variety of ten different maps and modes along with a huge layout of different weapons and abilities. The main mechanic is that you're always in cover and can only come out of cover to fly to your next determined point of cover. There's no running around the map here, as everyone is equipped with their jetpacks and has the ability to fly to their next cover spot. Aiming at a cover spot and pressing ‘A' will start your character to fly to that spot, no need to aim or hold the button down, as you're in for the ride. While mid-flight, you can aim, strafe, boost, and shoot, but you'll always be on your set path to the cover you chose. Granted, you are able to choose another cover mid-flight if you want to change your trajectory or get out of a bad situation, but again, once you choose your cover, you're essentially on auto pilot until to reach your destination.

The ‘Y' button will make you flip sides of cover, depending on which side you want to be safe from, though if you become flanked suddenly, you can press ‘B' to retreat back to the previous cover you were behind. It's a fantastic panic button when needed, and a great way to lure enemies to follow you into a trap. While you can't cancel your jumps from cover to cover, it makes it strategic of where to move and when, as you're committing yourself to going to each spot. At first I found it odd that you're always in cover (unless peeking over the cover to aim more precisely) and can't really run around the maps, but it grew on me very quickly and while many people I played against simply camped, there's a way to flank or flush them out as well. 

You won't always be on the ground jet packing from cover to cover either, there are even some cover spots that are on the ceiling, making you a much trickier target to spot. Your camera and controls don't change when upside down, but it feels simply awesome when you're picking off people from above to enemies lower than you in cover. It definitely adds a whole new element and keeps you looking everywhere, not just in front of you. Not only can you get flanked from behind, but maybe even above as well. 

Everyone loves killstreaks that other games have made so popular, and Hybrid is no different, though it's much more simplistic here. For each steak you obtain of 1, 3, or 5 kills, you get a new drone that can be deployed to help your offence or defense. Stalkers follow you and essentially mimic who and where you're shooting at, Warbringers will seek out enemies in an area and shoot them down, though they can take quite the amount of damage, and then there are Preyons, which can be deployed towards specific enemies that will assassinate them with ease.

Hybrid at its core is very simplistic ideas put together into a game, but it's performed very well and feels unique at the same time. Even each barrier of cover is labeled, and you can easily shout out "enemy G7 to U3" meaning they are behind ground cover 7 and flying to upper (inverted) 3. As you progress and earn experience, you unlock new levels, special abilities, weapons, and more. As I said before, some might find it odd that you're always behind cover and have no ground movement control (aside from strafing within cover and mid-flight) but I highly suggest checking some videos of Hybrid online. It wasn't on my radar at all, though after playing the beta for the short while I did, I'm anticipating the release with much excitement. Make sure to check back here at Xboxaddict once the full game releases for our verdict on the final product when it releases sometime this summer.


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