As soon as 5th Cell’s first entry into the third-person shooter genre with Hybrid was released this week – it was later pulled due to server errors and now alas all is corrected, but was the wait worth it, and does Hybrid bring to the table what others cannot? In a word – no. It’s an absolute bore-fest and an over-priced load of futuristic scrap metal.
This year’s Summer of Arcade line-up has to be one of the dullest and less exciting in comparison to other years which kicked off smash-hit titles that could be enjoyed during the summer retail games drought. Hybrid further adding to the lack-lustre releases this year is just plain awful!
The release of Hybrid does at least do one thing positive in that it makes all of the other games in the Summer of Arcade line-up released so far more forgiving in their lack of originality. The game is proclaimed to be a multiplayer online third-person shooter that is set in a post-apocalyptic world amidst a war between two factions. You can choose to play as the Variant or the Paladin in a Red vs Blue shoot-out scenario with the aim of taking control areas across the globe. I’d use the term post-apocalyptic lightly, in that its same-old-same mechanical generic look neither does the game any justice. It does however feature lots of game types, plenty of customisation options if you want to spend even more money on buying MS Points for credits to personalise your character model, and if you like jet-packs – you’ll probably be less disappointed than I was?
To get to grips with the massive online war, there is a bit of a short backstory to provide a purpose and reason for the conflict between the Variant and Paladin factions. In the year 2032 a newly built Hadron Supercollider had imploded, obliterating Australia with it and the world had been sent into turmoil. An alternate reality collided with our own and from it emerged a species known as the Variant and shortly world war broke out between them and a group of rebel humans known as the Paladins. There is absolutely no single-player to Hybrid, and should only be purchased (if you really must) by Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers as it is online play only.
The intro screen doesn’t give too much away other than you first select your chosen faction and then from the pre-game screens you get to choose a continent to play your matches with an aim to taking back a district within it and to collect pockets of Dark Matter – to survive a war 100 pockets of Dark Matter is needed for your faction. It’s as though you are participating in some kind of meta-game before starting a match as if the choices you make really matter which in theory should help you engage into the action, but it just looks a confusing mess of stats.
When you do make it through to the matchmaking lobby it resembles a familiarity of most other war games in which you must vote for your favourite map and select your chosen game type. Before deploying into battle you can make your selections on weapons, abilities, and specialisations in your loadout selection panels. This ranges from shotguns to assault rifles, defence and attack abilities with armour or grenade’s, and a range of specialisations that can help you make a more strategic approach in battle. The better you do in battle; you will therefore unlock extra XP, better weapons, armour upgrades and more to help you inevitably win the war. Unfortunately all battles are 3 vs 3 so do not expect a mighty war, just a small, tiny, short pitiful game of hide behind a few cover spots and shoot when you see an enemy. It has no free movement ability and the only time you can pretty much move around is using a jet pack to go from one cover point to another. It is well and truly dreadful and fast becomes frustrating – made even worse by its own killstreaks that summon a drone robot-vacuum like machine to protect you. With each kill this drone gets bigger and better, but a complete waste of time as downing them takes no time.
Despite all the negatives clearly mentioned, credit where credit is due in that it does come with ten multiplayer maps and modes to offer a form of variety in gameplay. Familiar game types such as Team Death Match, Bomb Planting, Defending and King of the Hill are present, but it is still a basic game of cover-shoot-kill and repeat over a ton of maps that all look pretty much the same.
I cannot stress enough how Hybrid is one of the worst online shooters available and should be avoided at all costs. Anyone who parts with 1200 MS Points should really take the shame, but if you are considering this game, do make sure you download a trial first. 5th Cell should have stayed clear from the third person shooter genre – but someone, somewhere out there will probably enjoy this, even if it’s for the nice Avatar Awards T-shirts.