|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: 5th Cell|
|Release: August 8, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence|
Don't get me wrong—there's still a lot of twitching here, and plenty of firefights are decided by which player saw the other first. But this is the first third-person shooter to take full advantage of all three dimensions. There are a variety of modes to keep you occupied, too, including basic team deathmatch, Crazy Kings (a variation on King of the Hill where the hill keeps moving), Artifact (where you fight for control of an artifact), and Overlord (where one player tries to remain the Overlord while his teammates protect him).
Another feature of Hybrid battles are "bots." By building kill streaks, you win the right to summon flying robots that attack your enemies, and the longer your kill streaks, the more powerful your metal allies. At a kill streak of five, you can summon a Preyon, an incredibly lethal bot who basically flies up to opposing players and murders them. These bots serve as a nice reward for racking up kills, and they provide convenient targets when you don't have another player in your sights. However, sometimes they make the game a bit lopsided—the best players already have the longest killstreaks, almost by definition, and then the game rewards them with high-powered killing machines to help. I would have preferred playing against more human opponents rather than facing down so many bots.
The graphics are pretty standard for XBLA—they're not quite as nice as what you'd expect in a retail release, but they're not too shabby for $15. Unfortunately, because of the futuristic setting and the need to have cover poking out of all surfaces, there isn't a whole lot of variation in setting, despite the persistent world. Choosing to fight in Asia, for example, won't put you on a map that actually looks like anything in Asia. Also, while most of the sound is acceptable, with mid-paced techno music that isn't distracting and the occasional voiceover, I found the assault-rifle noises a bit grating.
Between the well-designed maps and the revolutionary gameplay, Hybrid does plenty for the price, but I couldn't help but think that a campaign would be a lot of fun. If 5th Cell could make a sequel with wide-open level design and A.I. that can handle the complex tactical gameplay, it would be a blast. But that's just the thing: Hybrid is the type of game that makes you look forward to a sequel before the original is a week old.
Sure, some of the choices that 5th Cell has made here are debatable—but what's not debatable is that Hybrid provides a unique and compelling experience. That's not something you see very often.
Date: August 10, 2012