Hybrid Beta Preview

Hybrid Beta Preview

How is 5th Cell's shooter stacking up?

Written by Jonathan Barnes (osubluejacket) on 05 May 12 at 14:05

From the moment http://www.trueachievements.com/Hybrid-xbox-360.htm was announced back in October of 2010, the game has been turning heads. 5th Cell, developer of the Nintendo DS series, Scribblenauts, was making the jump to consoles by making a third-person shooter. When the press finally got their hands on the game at the 2011 Game Developer’s Conference, what they discovered was an experience unlike any other shooter. Rather than have movement dedicated to the thumbsticks, primary movement (from cover point to cover point) was assigned to the face buttons of the controller. The game boasted a persistent, online world where the war for global domination would constantly go back-and-forth between the Paladins and the Variants. Now, at the midpoint of their closed Beta, the question is asked, “How are they doing?”

The most important thing to realize is that these comments are representative of a beta, not a finished game.

Logo


First and foremost, the game’s movement mechanics work well. After the first few matches, using the face buttons (“A” to advance to new cover, “B” to retreat to previous cover, and “Y” to flip to the other side of cover) becomes intuitive and the game begins to feel as natural as a third-person shooter with a “traditional” control scheme. Moving between cover spots is done via jetpack. Fortunately, you do have maneuvering capabilities while advancing or retreating between cover points. Mid-air dogfights with enemies are common, frenetic, and make for an interesting change of pace.

Beta 3


Less effective is the changing of perspective. Since movement in Hybrid is fully three-dimensional, cover spots are stuck to both floors, walls, and ceilings. Adhering to cover on ceilings allows you to get an angle and shoot down into some cover spots, which makes for an interesting tactical balance. Unfortunately, wall-placed cover spots become highly disorienting, as (upon entering wall-mounted cover) the screen orients itself in an awkward, angular fashion, which throws off your perspective and can drastically effect aiming.

Beta 2


Like many other shooters, Hybrid has an experience point system that rewards positive play, allowing gamers to level up and unlock new weapons and abilities. Leveling (in the early going) is rapid and unlocks are frequent, making for an addictive experience that encourages “just one more match.”

The game also has a variety of different match types, ranging from the standard fare (Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill), to the unique “Overlord”, which spins the popular Halo game type “Juggernaut” into something refreshing and new.

One interesting wrinkle to Hybrid’s design is the inclusion of bots. Bots are awarded to players for either excelling and achieving kill streaks, or being killed multiple times in a row. In other words, they reward both excellence and ineptitude. Player can be awarded three different bot types: Stalkers, Warbringers, and Preyons. Stalkers stick by your side and fire at targets with you. Warbringers will venture out towards enemies while firing. Preyons are surgical strike units and will be either your best friends or the bane of your existence. The Preyon’s design mimics that of Cerberus Phantoms in http://www.trueachievements.com/Mass-Effect-3-xbox-360.htm. Once your character activates a Preyon, they will basically seek out and immediately kill an enemy unit their sword.

Beta 1


Hybrid also looks and sounds great, and the 60 FPS frame rate makes the game look so smooth it’s surreal. The art style feels cohesive and consistent, and the character rendering looks great. The only drawback is that, at times, it’s hard to distinguish between characters/enemies and set pieces when aiming from a distance. Likewise, the sound design is great; weapons all sound and feel unique.

Since this is only a beta, Hybrid does have its share of bugs. It’s all-too-easy to get “stuck” in cover and be unable to move either laterally or over to the other side of whatever cover you’re in. This does create some moments of extreme frustration as you try to get out of the line of fire. The game does occasionally break down as well; freezing up then spastically moving before eventually smoothing out. Balancing is also a pretty major issue and it’s easy to be stuck in a match with a SEVERELY overpowered, more-experienced set of enemy players.

The biggest drawback, however, is the matchmaking system. As an “online only” shooter, the success or failure of Hybrid will come down to its community. With its “persistent online world”, you’ll have a bevy of potential combat zones from which to choose. The world is set out like a RISK board with different continents and combat areas. Each combat zone shows how close each faction is to securing it and the precious "Dark Matter" it contains. Upon selecting a combat zone, you’ll have to wait for up to five other people to join your six person match. Even though the matches are set with the entire population (not just specific zones) in mind, matchmaking is painfully slow.

One afternoon, I actually took a stopwatch and documented how much time I spent waiting for matches versus how much time I spent playing. The final tally was almost 45 minutes waiting for 32 minutes of gameplay in six matches. One wait time was actually over fifteen minutes to play a six minute match. Matchmaking is further complicated by the fact that, on your first time loading the game, you’ll be forced to pick a side, either Paladin or Variant, and you will have to stick to that side for the duration of the beta (5th Cell has said that the full game will include a mechanic for switching factions at some point). This effectively halves the available population since matches can only be started with three players from each side. In a game that is going to live or die with its online community, the long waits between matches, and some occasionally unbalanced teams, will surely mean a death sentence if they’re not fixed by the full release.

Beta 4


At the end of the day, this beta is, ultimately, a fun experience, especially if you can party up with two friends of the same faction. The games are fast, furious, and definitely scratch the shooter itch. Fortunately, the team at 5th Cell still has time to get the kinks worked out of Hybrid before it hits full release this summer on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.

If the game has piqued your interest, the beta will be ongoing for at least another week. You can still sign up for a chance to get a code here.
AuthorMessage
Barad XBA
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Barad XBA - Second broken xbox one headset, nice.
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Last post: Yesterday at 19:30
Posted on 05 May 12 at 14:09, Edited on 05 May 12 at 14:10 by Barad XBA
Haven't played the beta and don't think ill bother anymore but am definitely considering this, looks pretty damn great.
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Devonian AUS
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Devonian AUS - Ok - this is Devo's last post on TA.com. To all my friends, it's been a pleasure gaming with you over the years...
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Last post: 20 May 13 at 22:20
Posted on 05 May 12 at 14:51
Looking better!

Get in my mouth?
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TAI JASON
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TAI JASON - ALIEN ISOLATION: One of the best horror games ever! Don't trust the bad reviews, it's awesome!
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Last post: 20 Apr at 17:38
Posted on 05 May 12 at 15:48
I played the beta...well the tutorial...this game is strange. Nobody plays it online?!? I already delete it...
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donut77
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donut77 - HARBL
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Last post: 01 Dec at 09:06
Posted on 05 May 12 at 15:50
I have played the beta a bit but I really hate the movement. It feels restrictive and took me far too long to get used to.
osubluejacket
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Last post: Yesterday at 17:57
Posted on 05 May 12 at 15:58
donut77 said:I have played the beta a bit but I really hate the movement. It feels restrictive and took me far too long to get used to.Like I said in the article, it took me about four-to-five matches to get used to it, but it really works well once you adjust!
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Craphex
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Craphex - Pro member
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Last post: 17 Dec at 09:12
Posted on 05 May 12 at 16:12
I got the code yesterday but it says there is a problem with it when I try to redeem?
Craphex
The AuD Doc
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The AuD Doc
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Last post: 14 Dec at 00:41
Posted on 05 May 12 at 16:18
I agree that it's a pretty fun beta! My only gripe, aside from the obvious wait times for matches, is that there doesn't seem to be any method to the matchups. I haven't played a whole ton, so my rank is still fairly low compared to some. When your team of level 10's and below gets pitted against a team of 20's, 30's and the weapons and abilities available to them far outweigh your weapons it can make for very frustrating match.

Very fun game overall though.
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Shadow Enz
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Last post: 21 Sep at 23:23
Posted on 05 May 12 at 16:47
I played for the first day of the beta. It was fun, but without 2 other friends to play with, I ultimately stopped. Gave the beta about 3 hours with no problems or bugs encountered.

Deleted it from my hard drive last night.
"You must exceed your limitations if you wish to survive..."
D0CT0R WH0VIAN - The Cole Train runs on whole grain, baby! Woooooooo!
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Last post: 07 Mar at 17:20
Posted on 05 May 12 at 17:29
I'm usually very open-minded when it comes to games, but I basically hated everything about Hybrid.
Bone'n in the mist
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Last post: 27 Jun at 18:29
Posted on 05 May 12 at 17:32
Craphex said:I got the code yesterday but it says there is a problem with it when I try to redeem?US ONLY BETA!!
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Evenger Ostro
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Last post: 03 Dec at 07:56
Posted on 05 May 12 at 20:25, Edited on 05 May 12 at 20:25 by Evenger Ostro
Is using the buttons for movement really considered a "new" way nowadays? It's more like back to the roots of one or no stick gameplay. The quality and precision of 360's sticks decreased anyways and make me shake my head now and then while playing.
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Jakeythedude
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Posted on 05 May 12 at 20:49
Devonian AUS said:Looking better!

Get in my mouth?
I don't think you want this one in your mouth man. Looks like it might taste pretty bland.
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Chase357
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Last post: 14 Jul at 19:13
Posted on 05 May 12 at 21:13
I have the beta. Not looking too good, but it's a beta.
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MH The Rockstar
TrueAchievements Pro user2,792 posts
Last post: 12 Dec at 17:22
Posted on 05 May 12 at 21:24
Thanks for the review. I am still on the fence about this one though.
TKD MACOU 0172 - got my new xbox ladies and gents back in bussiness
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Last post: 19 Jul 12 at 11:02
Posted on 06 May 12 at 07:13
Damn looks to much halo to me
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Sora401K
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Sora401K - Life is far too busy for me to game often or consistently. Expect slow responses.
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Last post: 28 Jun 12 at 21:58
Posted on 07 May 12 at 03:32
I just can't get into Hybrid. It's on rails. You can only move to a few different places. There's no exploration. No hide and go seek. No tension filled guerrilla warfare style last man standing moments. And those are my favorite moments in any shooter. The matches where all of your teammates are killed and you are left as the last man there. Their last hope. They watch you from their death cams and pray. And you slowly take out each member of the opposing team. You hide around corners, drop down on them, sneak up carefully. You destroy them with strategy and, maybe, a hint of camping.

Hybrid won't ever be able to do this. It's boring. Repetitive. And there isn't enough variation in the gameplay. With CoD and Halo you can play offensively, defensively, sneakily, obviously. You can choose an infinite number of paths from one side of the map to the other. You can play how you'd like. But being confined to cover in Hybrid restricts things like that.

TL;DR: Hybrid is kind of awful. It has a few good bits. But not nearly enough. Try out a demo before you buy it. Because it's probably going to be a love/hate thing. There won't be much in between.
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blkalleykat
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Last post: 11 Jun 12 at 12:11
Posted on 07 May 12 at 14:27
I the armor looks Halo like. I'm curious to the game out though. Doesn't seem to bad from the preview
Gantua
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Last post: 09 Nov at 05:43
Posted on 08 May 12 at 01:39
ZoMbiEp0caLyPsE said:I'm usually very open-minded when it comes to games, but I basically hated everything about Hybrid.This