Developer 5th Cell is most well known for the Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts games. They have added some unique innovations into these games, taking advantage of the Nintendo DS touch pad. When I heard that they were the team behind Hybrid, I was surprised since it is a 3rd person shooter with cover elements. It was featured at E3 as part of the Summer of Arcade, and I got a chance to play it.
At first glance, Hybrid might look like your typical third-person shooter in a futuristic sci-fi setting. You can fly around to cross over large distances. However, the way you get across those distances is unique. Instead of controlling your character directly in space, you target your cursor over an area and hit the A button to fly towards it. The computer takes control, but you are free to look and aim in any direction as you are moving. It takes some planning, and if you aren’t careful you can feel a bit of vertigo, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great. If you find yourself in a bad situation you can use the B button to move back to where you were before.
With the sci-fi setting, 5th Cell uses the unique movement controls as a gameplay mechanic as well. Since you have the ability to move almost anywhere on the map, you can hide behind barriers that are up on the ceiling. This can be very advantageous to killing off unsuspecting enemies and rack up a nice killing streak. If you get enough kills in a row you can get turrets to fight next to you, or even a Preyor, which is like a ninja who stealthily kills everyone on the other team.
While you are killing off others in up close and personal virtual battles, a larger and persistent world war is going on as well. A map with many continents divided into districts contains maps for you to either take over the district or defend it from being overtaken. It will get reset every so often, but the developers wanted you to feel like there is a purpose behind the fighting.
They are currently planning on ten maps with six modes to be available at launch. The standard Team Deathmatch is included, as well as King of the Hill. A variation of King of the Hill called Crazy Kings has the King of the Hill spot move randomly on the map. Overload is a point-based game where you gain points for killing others based on their score, but half your points for being killed. The higher your point total, the larger the Bull’s Eye on your back. You have to control an artifact for as long as you can in the Artifact mode, while would-be thieves can see your exact location on the map. Finally there is a Tactics mode, but they didn’t have any details yet on it, other than the fact that it is round based.
They estimate that there will be twenty-one different weapons available in the game, and around seventeen different abilities. Going into the match you choose a class and you are granted those weapons. However, you will be able to customize your character as well with several different perks. Some are team-based, while others have attack or defensive properties, and even more abilities yet to be revealed.
What is amazing about Hybrid is the fact that this isn’t a retail release, but it will be released on XBLA as a part of the Summer of Arcade. If you are looking for something different from your standard third-person shooter, then Hybrid should definitely be on your radar.