Hybrid is a cover-based third person shooter, in which you pick one of two sides - either the Paladin (humans) or Variant (invaders) - in a war over the world's dark matter. It's an ambitious game - more so considering it's developer 5th Cell's first 3D title (their previous titles include games like Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life.)

At first glance, it's a little overwhelming. You're faced with a world map, from which to pick a region to fight in and a style of deathmatch. On closer inspection, different battles have different statistics - such as who's winning on that particular battlefront.

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To make things easier, think of the world as a giant cake. You, and a couple of other players, pick a slice (skirmish) to fight over with the opposition. Every player, no matter their chosen side, keeps doing this until one of the sides wins, at which point the war restarts.
Keep in mind that, when making your initial side selection, you can only switch once - no pressure.

The game starts you off with its practice mode. Although it's as close to a singleplayer game as Hybrid has, it still requires an Xbox Live connection and doesn't offer a great indication of what you should expect from the core game. Requiring a connection seems a little strange, as this mode only pits you up against drones.

Hybrid's core gameplay is similar to Gears of War's cover-based combat, except you can only move from one cover point to another, with little freedom of movement. That said, getting from one blockade to another is incredibly intuitive; you can fly (did I mention you can fly? You can fly!) back and forth between cover points or jump over cover; smart use of the mechanic is key, as it only takes a few hits to be killed. With that in mind, the game can get very frustrating, very quickly, and the cover areas are located on floor, the walls, and the ceiling - making it easy to lose your bearings.

As you fight battles, your gain experience - regardless of the outcome. That said, the more goals you accomplish, the more items and experience you gain. Different countries offer up varying amounts of XP for completing mission goals, along with dark matter supplies. As a result, beginners should expect to be dominated - although thanks to the way leveling works, they will find it easier the more they play.

Hybrid's weapons, abilities, and armor upgrades can be unlocked through gameplay or via micro-transactions, should you be the impatient sort. A particular highlight of the helmet upgrades are the Minecraft crossovers - a "Steve" helmet is awarded at level 20 on the Paladin side, and a Creeper helmet on the Variant side.

In the end, if I can say one thing for Hybrid: it's that 5th Cell knew what they wanted to do and did it well; produce a war game from a lot of small, manageable battles. It's good in the sense that it takes a specific aspect of multiplayer from cover-based shooters and does it better than most. However, said aspect won't appeal to everyone. With its singular focus, it's also something of a hard sell at 1200 Microsoft points.

"A multiplayer-only shooter, with a twist"
- Hybrid
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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