Hybrid – Review
While perhaps not quite a total re-invention of the genre, it's certainly proof that there's room there for a bit of tinkering.
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Thursday 16 August 2012
Launched as part of Xbox Live’s fifth annual Summer of Arcade, 5th Cell’s Hybrid offers an unusual twist on third-person sci-fi shooters.
Set in a barely-sketched future world where war against alien invaders has broken out on several fronts, rather than try diplomacy, the order of the day is a series of battles to fight where the goody-two-shoes among us can choose to represent humanity as Paladins, or those with a misanthropic side can indulge their fantasies as the alien Variants.
The dialogue during the introduction even points it out explicitly – none of this background really matters. It’s about the fighting now. Three-on-three deatchmatch action it seems, despite this perhaps appearing a rather sporting set-up for intergalactic war.
So far, so familiar. Another third-person cover shooter. You’d be forgiven for thinking of Gears of War or perhaps a slightly dumber Mass Effect. What can 5th Cell bring to bear against firepower like that?
The answer is simple: the unique way in which player’s movement is both expanded and limited at the same time adds the extra dimension to combat both figuratively and literally. Using your jetpack you can fly, which is a bonus over most similar games. However this freedom of flight is (initially frustratingly) limited to sheltering at prescribed cover spots.
This lends itself to a very strategic approach as you get to know your way around both the controls and the arenas of combat. Shooting mid-air slows you down, for example, so you must decide whether to boost and speed up or try to gun down your opponent as you approach the next cover spot. The horror as you realise just before you land that it’s packed with enemy drones is genuine, as battle takes on a considered yet still slightly frantic mood.
Battle arenas themselves are fairly bland and reflect little of their geographical location – for a game promising globe-trotting and worldwide conflict, there’s little to identify Europe apart from South America. Weaponry perhaps lacks a certain punch – while upgradable either by in-game credit earning or in-game purchasing with real money, there’s not perhaps the same level of innovation in the actual killing methods as there is in the gameplay mechanic itself.
Drones awarded for kill-streaks are a good idea, and they also seemed to be a way of introducing handicapping to proceedings – I certainly felt like my initial encounters were evened up by what seemed like a generous supply of drones despite the absence of my kill-streak, which took a few goes to really start becoming a reality.
You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned a single-player campaign – it’s a testament to Fifth Cell that they’ve managed to create an engaging title without one, and it shows confidence in their product to not bolt on a rushed 5 hour solo mission, or shoehorn a complex narrative into proceedings.
It’s online only, so you’ll need a Gold subscription to play, and hopefully a supportive community (read: willing cannon fodder) out there in the wires to keep the kill count ticking over. While perhaps not quite a total reinvention of the genre, it’s certainly proof that there’s room still for a bit of tinkering.
Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA
Price: £10.20 (1200 MS points)
Developer: 5th Cell
Life & Style blogs
Revenge porn: What is it – and how big is the problem?
Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
The Fappening: After the third wave of leaked celebrity photos, why can't we stop it?
Windows 10 release: Microsoft bypasses 'Windows 9' with new operating system
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...
£40000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure En...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analy...