August 15, 2012

The Battle for Earth

Lasting First Impressions of Hybrid

Developed by 5th Cell  |  Published by Microsoft

Hybrid boxart» Developer 5th Cell, known primarily for their Scibblenauts series, steps out of their comfort zone with Hybrid, a third-person, cover-based shooter with a unique and interesting twist. Released last week on Xbox Live Arcade, Hybrid can be a little hard to explain. For starters, in lieu of running around a map, Hybrid has you using your jetpack to traverse the field from cover point to cover point. You simply point at where which vertical knee-high wall you’d like to hide behind and press A. The game takes care of the rest by zipping you along. There is no running or jumping… just jet packs. At first this can seem a little disorienting, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it, pulling off all sorts of airborne maneuvers as you elegantly traverse the game’s varied maps at a brisk 60fps.

After you finish the surprisingly brief tutorial, you’re asked to join one of two warring factions. Each side is fighting for control of the world which is broken up into zones. This is actually one of the better aspects of the game. The battle for Earth is a persistent map that one team will eventually win (Did you play Chromehounds? It’s just like that). 5th Cell says that a complete ‘war’ will take around two weeks to play out. At the end of the war the victors are given special hats which they can wear to show off to the losers. When you’re ready to play simply pick the continent and then zone you’d like to fight for and then you’re teamed up with two other players for some 3-on-3 multiplayer action (Hybrid doesn’t have any type of single player component).


As mentioned previously, Hybrid has players zipping from point to point, in the standard fare of game modes, attempting to take each other out. As they do so, players begin to amass kill streak rewards. Unlike Call of Duty, the rewards aren’t customizable but they do all involve one of my favourite things… ROBOTS. Each subsequent kill lets you spawn a new kind of drone that will help you kill other players. The weakest of which floats beside you and doubles your fire-power, while the strongest screams across the map to one-hit-kill the first enemy it finds. For a game where you “can’t walk”, the game play is astonishingly fast paced and dynamic.

Obtaining kills and completing objectives will net you XP that, much like in every other modern shooter these days, will level you up and let you unlock new and different types of weapons and abilities to bring into battle. That’s one of my sore points, actually. While there is a full range of at least 20+ weapons to unlock, they’re all pretty uninteresting and don’t really do anything to differentiate themselves from each other. To be honest the same can also be said of the maps. Yes, it’s a very nice looking game but the areas themselves don’t have a lot of character to them.


A few other things, in the one hour of play I dedicated to the game, I experienced a few bugs that seriously detracted from the overall experience. The first was a simple crash while waiting for the lobby to load and the second… well, it was far more annoying: throughout my entire play experience there were many audio glitches. For starters, every sound effect triggered about a half-second late and quite often the background music during the menus would just cut out. I admit, these aren’t game breaking problems but it’s very disorienting to squeeze a few rounds off on your high-tech rifle only to hear them seconds later.

Hybrid is a decent game that certainly brings some interesting twists to the genre. It has a lot of polish in some very important areas and at times that makes it feel like a bigger game than what it actually is. If you’re a fan of competitive multi-player games and looking for an inexpensive game to fill the void until Black Ops 2 arrives, it’s not hard to recommend giving Hybrid a shot. That said, if you’re still deeply engrossed in some other AAA shooter, Hybrid’s offerings probably won’t be enough to pull you away from it. It’s a good game… just not a great one.

5th Cell, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

is a mom of four, geek, gamer and social media junkie. She writes about all these things and more on her blog Momicon, where, together with Deceptibaby, she plots to take over the Megaverse. Connect with her on Xbox Live as HotelQueen or on Twiter as MarandaCarvell.



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