Gamers can be forgiven for looking at the upcoming XBLA shooter Hybrid and dismissing it as just another third person shooter. Because… it IS another cover-based, multiplayer-only shooter for Xbox Live Arcade. Yet Hybrid has a gimmick to set it apart from the multitudes of other shooting games, and it’s a pretty good gimmick too.
Hybrid is set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world where most of civilization has been destroyed, yet two armies remain to battle it out for control of what’s left. It uses a trendy new concept for the apocalypse, the Hadron Supercollider. In Hybrid’s story, an accident with the collider not only destroys Australia, but allows our world to be invaded by “Variants” from an alternate dimension. The only thing standing in the way of these Variants are humans who call themselves Paladins.
Players will be able to join either side and fight in 3 versus 3 matches while the two factions vie for strategic control of the globe in a persistent game world with a Risk-style world map. Although all of that sounds pretty keen, that isn’t the true gimmick to Hybrid.
The gimmick is, in Hybrid players don’t directly control the movements of their character. They tell the character which battlefield object to use as cover, then the character moves to that point automatically. If that seems too gimmicky, take note that Hybrid is developed by 5th Cell, the creators of the Scribblenauts series and other unusual but successful games, so this odd concept could very well pay off.
Players will be able to aim, move the camera and decide when to pop out of cover, but the actual movement is handled by AI. This puts a high degree of importance on tactics, and maneuvering as a team to outflank enemies and protect teammates.
Unlike other cover-based games, Hybrid lets players move in three dimensions. Because it’s set in the future, the soldiers have the technology for flight and walking on walls. This means that players can take the high ground (Or walls or ceiling) to target entrenched enemies, and players will have to use a new form of tactical thinking to exploit and defend against this form of combat.
Players can also shoot while moving, which gives rise to jetpack battles. With the Xbox handling the movement of the characters, players will able to focus on blasting away at other combatants while zooming towards their next piece of cover.
Hybrid has six gameplay modes and ten maps, but from the available footage these maps don’t do a lot to show off the devastated world that the developers have created for their game. Hopefully the final product will give gamers a better look at the results of this Hadron Supercollider apocalypse and the two dimensions colliding.
Hybrid in the fourth and penultimate game in Microsoft’s Summer Of Arcade promotion. Previous games in this series include Deadlight, Wreckateer and Tony Hawk PS HD, with next week’s Dust: An Elysian Tail capping the event. Gamers who buy any three of the games in the series will get a bonus 400 MS Points.
Hybrid comes out this Wednesday the 8th for Xbox Live Arcade at 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). Check back later this week for Explosion’s review.