Ah hyrbid a film a low budget horror films about a killer car, what an hidden thing.
But that's not what you're reading this for, you want to know what an idiot like me has to say on the XBLA game Hybrid that's not based upon this film in any way.
Ok fine that's not good journalism there to just call it crap and not justify it so this is why from my initial impressions anyway its yet another game to not buy in what really needs renaming to the summer of Charade now due to it being less about high quality games and more about companies cashing in, but that's a blog for another day there.
Hybrid is a jetpack based cover shooter sci fi game.
Initially all of that made me feel excited as I have a history of loving sci fi games, and game with jetpacks and the idea of it being third person with cover mechanics sounded interesting.
I downloaded the demo hoping to find another cool game to play like Tribes 2 (Also Ascend which is good enough) or to maybe find another Section 8 Prejudice esc game and maybe being summer of arcade it would be a hit not slowly die off.
now lets play a little bit of spot the difference here:
Give up or have you got the answer ?
Well the obvious thing is 2 of them are colourful to an extent and look nice, the last one well it looks like you'd imagine Call of Duty to look if it were in space taking the brown uniforms and replacing them with variations on white.
This the first problem with hybrid it doesn't look good, it doesn't have the nice colourful sci fi feel but seems to be call of duty in space in its look with lots of dark shades and the white thrown in to mix it up.
Also in the picture you can see how having both teams in similar armour colours is a problem as you can tell off the bat who is an ally and who is an enemy, this feature is made worse by the allies have a small green name tag over their head with an orange dot under it and enemies have a small red dot with a red nametag, the nametags you can't see unless up close. What this means is its a game with faction "colours" of red and blue but none of that present in the game in terms of armour.
When this game was first shown off with the summer of arcade games it was one of the only games that interested me this year but a beta tester let slip the game didn't allow you to move gears of war style and lock from cover to cover but you pointed to cover and moved there. I thought this was a forum member having a joke. It wasn't. Hybrid rather than letting you play with your jetpack and fight in the arenas with say controls like Zone of Enders it plays almost like an RTS game with you picking to move and while moving being able to strafe, boost and shoot.
I'm not saying the cover mechanics don't work but they aren't enjoyable as it takes away control from the player and also forces you to play the games own stupid way.
In Gears of war you run and can stop at any cover point and magically Velcro your back to the cover, in Hybrid you can only move to visible cover but in the air you can choose another bit of cover if a new one comes into view. This is annoying simply because to get across the map it means targeting a minimum of 3 bits of cover and pressing A 3 times.
"Oh you're entitled wha wha 3 whole button presses"
Is what I expect to hear if any hardcore hybrid fans read this, but look at it this way, to get to that chest high bit of wall the other side of a gears of war map I only have to move across the map and go into cover once, not repeatedly tell my character to move then move again and again.
This is why a liken it to an RTS and not a third person shooter.
So the graphics are a bit naff
The movement is like a board game with each cover having 6 spots 3 either side and every now and then some different shaped chest high walls that offer 3 spots in 1 direction and 1 in another direction.
so now onto the gameplay.
The gameplay of hybrid is almost like the team couldn't decide what they wanted to make, a twitch shooter or a tactical game, so they made both and neither element works too well.
Twitch shooting comes down to ;
is the target in the air or with their head up then scope, if not then use an ability to get in close or up close reach over cover and blind fire them to death.
the tactical play comes from flanking which can be countered easily as there's only normally 2 routes round the map and a few areas you can cross between the "lanes". Kills come pretty fast which immediately made me wonder why there's a close quarters shotgun when I can kill someone blind fire with my assault rifle in about 2 seconds flat anyway. grenades due to the games attempt to get broad appeal to the foaming mouth mountain dew fueld 13 year old army of COD are suitable stupidly easy to use not only showing the throwing angle but also where it will land making it so only a true moron could fail to land his grenade behind the enemy cover and force them to flee except when the enemy happens to be on the wall or ceiling on of of those rare parts in off maps that lets you attach to something other than a wall mostly all on the same plane.
With Kills coming fas there is of course the stable of the twitch shooter the killstreak reward. In hybrid the rewards come in the form of robots, the first being a helper, the second and third being rejects from the Zone of Enders game in the form of a hulking war ship thing and what can best be described as an orbital frame that flys in and almost guarantees a kill.
yes the final killstreak really does look similar to this and yes I feel dirty for even mentioning Zone of Enders in this article Each kill with a killstreak item also adds to your next killstreak meaning you can quite easily dominate then take a hacksaw the the enemy teams squishy bits before showing them to their face the bits you removed........ I really hope someone gets that, that quote comes from my new addiction to super Monday Night Combat and not some weird underground films.
There Are multiple match types available from the bread and butter team derpmatch, I mean deathmatch. Artefact, which is a capture and hold an object variety, King of the hill and crazy king, and tactics, which is an attack and defend Counterstrike style mode.
As you rank you you gain EXP and can unlock more things like better guns and equipment meaning that you can easily steam roller your enemy by unlocking all the higher powered killing weapons and dominate lower levels with it. Though I will say I had little issue with this due to how quick kills come even at lower levels anyway but I'm pretty sure If I'd run into some elite level players I may have noticed the difference.
So what does the game have on its side ?
Its the meta game of course as it copies, sorry I mean borrows the idea of chromehounds (who I'm sure borrowed it from elsewhere) of a persistent battle with your attacks helping your team capture dark matter, the two side who's names I've already forgotten are essentially the human and the alien with both wanting dark matter to.......... um .............. you know what I don't think it ever says beyond they need it, certain areas can give advantages to your team and there are hot zones to help push people together into matches in constested zones for bigger exp boosts. Unlike chromehounds this isn't a fatal 3 way match however.
Chromehounds map screen, oh how you will be missed
The obvious problem being the game while only needed 6 players for each match unlike chromehounds doesn't present AI opponents and during the trial alone I managed to have match making trap itself in a loop and have to leave and restart to get a game.
now onto the final annoying issue which this game brings and its a very nasty one. The game allows you to pay to win. You can by combat credits to unlock weapons and while at certain levels you get to pick the weapons from the selection you can pay to make the game shorter or just to have all the weapons from the beginning, now while some people will no doubt say "But EA lets you do that with BF3" this game isn't battlefield 3 its point and shoot and unlike battlefield 3 a person getting every gadget in the game will be able to use them and know how to use them, this is a 1200 MSP game that lets you not only buy exp boosts and other add ons it lets you buy the weapons as well. So while people will point out Gotham City Imposters did let you buy stuff using Microsoft points it didn't to the best of my knowledge let you buy better weapons.
For those who don't know why pay to win is bad then if you do get this game you may well find out pretty quick.
So to sum up:
Its a fairly basic white grey TPS that controls like an RTS game.
The game is full of chest high walls.
The system relies on a consistent playerbase to work
The game has the nerve to charge 1200 MSP then for 1400 MSP let you buy all the weapons in the game pretty much and bypass all the progression.
The matchmaking doesn't work too well as in the 60 minute trial time it crashed and had me stuck in a loop 3 times.
The Balancing doesn't work as one game it was me as a level 10, a level 5 and a level 1 vs a level 15, a level 22 and a level 35 player.
The story is pretty terrible and even the intro voice acting is bad.
The game is just out to make money as can be seen by the fact in the trial after every match it advertises the full game unlock.
And worst of all this is a full 1200 MSP game that lets people be wallet warriors and buy their way to better stuff / more versatile selection.
Oh and unless I missed it if you want to change classes each time you play you have to select the ability, weapon and specialisation again.
Maybe best to avoid this one or at best play out the trial then decide but for me this isn't a good game and not a patch on previous years which brought the madness of Monday Night Combat, I can honestly see this game being dead in 6 months when the next COD comes out.
You will fear the Wallet Warrior on the rocket ship with the moon fuel