It’s natural to have questions when playing a game for the first time. Questions like, “So this is Gears of War with jetpacks, right?” for instance. Or perhaps, “Is that guy shooting at me from the ceiling?” Maybe even, “What’s that sou — oh god, is that a cybernetic assassin?!” Gamers who partook in the beta for 5th Cell’s Hybrid already know the answers to those questions. For the uninitiated: no, yes, a cybernetic assassin and see: previous answer.
When a studio that is known and loved for creating a specific type of game — those in the Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts vein, in this case — announces it’s taking that brave leap of faith from the comforts of its nest to attempt a flight towards previously uncharted territory, there can be some trepidation among gamers, perhaps some skepticism, even. Take just one look at 5th Cell’s Summer of Arcade third-person shooter and it’s plain that it is one such departure. Five matches in a noisy convention hall (seriously, Activision, did Black Ops II have to be that loud?) is a sample size too small to categorically abandon all concerns over whether or not the studio has the chops to pull this thing off. However, it is large enough to glean that Hybrid has all the makings of the next XBLA shooter that will keep gamers up until the wee hours of the morning on many occasions. Now might be a good time to start banking up that sick leave at work.
5th Cell made their name with fairly cutesy games like Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts. Both handheld games with a kid-friendly art style and gameplay that encouraged creativity. So when they revealed their first XBLA game and it turned out to be a third person shooter, we were certainly surprised.
What we weren’t surprised about was the fact they had decided to do things a bit differently. Drawn to Life was a fairly traditional action platformer but it stood out by letting players draw characters and objects that inhabited the world. Scribblenauts is a fairly simple puzzle game in theory but has endless possibilities thanks to players having the whole dictionary at hand to help them complete levels. It’s because of these unconventional takes on traditional game ideas that we fully expected 5th Cell to put their stamp on their third person shooter, Hybrid.
In Hybrid players do not have direct control over their characters movement, not in the traditional sense anyway. While the right stick does move your camera and onscreen aiming reticule, the left stick will only move you around while on cover. To move from cover to cover, you’ll have to point the camera at the cover you want to go to and hit A, at which point you can strafe among other things. It sounds like it might over-complicate things for no reason but in reality it takes third person shooter gameplay and makes it a bit more tactical.
We don’t want to get too bogged down on the minutia of controls and such. Instead we asked some of our writers who took part in the recent beta to tell us about their experience, check out what they had to say below.