STAFF REVIEW of Hybrid (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Monday, August 20, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Hybrid Box art During the draught of summer blockbuster games, Microsoft's annual Summer of Arcade is determined to keep you indoors and make you forget about this rumored artifact called the sun. With that goal in mind, we turn our attention to one of the recent releases of the Summer of Arcade, Hybrid and find out if 5th Cell has propelled its way to the top in some Olympian style fashion, or if they've crashed and burned at the bottom in a massive pile of bullets, guns, and armor. When an arcade game comes out, one of the first things people decide is if they are going to spend their Microsoft Points and purchase it. Hybrid is one of the more expensive games on the Xbox Live Arcade, with a price tag of a whopping 1200 MS Points, but is this game worth it? Let's have a look inside and see what we can find shall we?

On the surface we see a graphically smooth combat arena where teams fight for control through various combat scenarios in an effort to gain control over Dark Matter and thus turn the tide of war in their side's favor. You will also notice a plethora of different weapons at your disposal from sniper rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, grenades, and more. Upon further inspection you will also notice a wide range of abilities for your character which range from infinite ammo, high impact rounds, shields which deflect some damage, and more. Now this sounds like Hybrid has included a lot of content that should complete the recipe for a good shooter game, but it doesn't stop there because Hybrid introduces the innovation of flight. So now instead of running from cover to cover in hopes of extending your life, you light your jet pack up and blast your way forward.

The controls thankfully are fairly straight forward, and that?s a very good thing because it allows you to focus on the combat and helps remove some of the frantic actions found on other shooter games. Here's how it works out. Your character starts behind cover inside the combat arena, then using your sticks you select the next cover you wish to fly to, press one button and he's off to the races. While you're flying to the next cover you can aim and shoot your gun, fire off grenades, or even call in a warship to help assault your foes. Upon landing your character will automatically duck behind cover for safety and it's from here you can fly to another cover point, attack any opponents in sight, or retreat if you want to your previous point. This setup actually works surprisingly well because you don't find yourself fumbling around with mechanics and instead you find yourself focused on the battle itself.

As we can see Hybrid seems tick all the right boxes for a fun, action packed, third person shooter, but don't be fooled by the outside glamour of jet packing perfection, because Hybrid does pack not only a few problems, but a rocky history as well. Take for instance the story of Hybrid. There isn't one. All you get is a few second introductions as to why the world is split into two dividing forces on a quest for power, and that?s it. The story is supposed to tie into the so called meta game inside Hybrid where you get a world map and apparently can go through different regions in order to play different gametypes to further the cause of the side you choose to play as. Is it confusing? Yes. Is the story next to nonexistent? Yes. Does any of this help you enjoy the game in any way? Ummmm... no. I've read more in-depth stories on the back of cereal boxes.

On top of the notecard story line, Hybrid also is painfully slow when it comes to finding multiplayer matches. You will spend more times watching the "Searching for Lobbies" and "Populating Lobby" screens than you will actually playing the game. You could pop in Hybrid on New Year?s Day and by Thanksgiving you will give thanks that you have finally found a match. Gamers who enjoy shooters almost require a fast load time in between matches because it helps keep the fluidity of the game and with load times of over 2 minutes in between matches, Hybrid's speed feels about as fast as those motorized chairs that go up and down stairs.

This major problem though stems from issues in Hybrid's past as well. Upon launch of a game you would expect developers to have connectivity issues ironed out, especially when your game is based off of multiplayer combat. Well that wasn't the case for Hybrid. Upon release the game suffered such game breaking problems with connection issues to their servers that Microsoft pulled the plug and actually removed one of their Summer of Arcade games from the marketplace until such issues were resolved. This didn't bode well for the arcade game given so much promotion was put behind the game. The issues have now been resolved but it almost feels too little too late. The reasoning behind it is because if your game is primarily based off of multiplayer, then your company HAS to ensure that multiplayer connection issues are relatively nil and that isn't the case with Hybrid. It's like making a car and forgetting to put the steering wheel on, then saying "oops, we're going to recall everything and put steering wheels back on because we forgot to in the first place."

With all these issues you may be saying no thanks to Hybrid, but before you close the door all together on this game, you may want to take a closer look at what Hybrid brings to the table. The real beauty behind Hybrid rests in the staggering amount of combinations for your character. When you combine all the armor, weapon, and ability traits you can truly create a character that will fit the feel of how you want to play. If you want to charge in, grab yourself something devastating like a shotgun, and equip a shield and go to town. Like picking off your competition from a distance? Then arm yourself with a sniper rifle and start looking for the head. There are tons of different character combinations so the choice on how you want to play is literally in your hands.

Another nice touch is the bonuses you get from your kill streaks. If it goes high enough you can start calling upon various robots to assist you in your time of need. These range from small maneuverable vehicles, to heavy warships, to even an assassin. While these may be devastating to opponents, one simple Data Hack grenade and the tide turns instantly where the robots turn on their hosts like some bad 70's science fiction film. This is where Hybrid's combat really starts to shine as all of this combat becomes as smooth as glass.

So despite all of the negatives that Hybrid regrettably has, it does provide very in depth, customizable combat showcased on very fluid colorful graphics that will make every game incredibly intense and provide countless hours of "on the edge of your seat" entertainment. Yes this game may have some issues and yes this game has had a troubled past, but does Hybrid bring a fast and fun third person shooter game? Yes it does. Is it worth 1200 MS points? Absolutely not.

Provide a better story and please work on the connection issues with this game.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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