Hybrid (Xbox 360) review: Hybrid (Xbox 360)

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Intriguing twist on traditional movement mechanics
Great array of strategic loadout options
Flexible unlock system

The Bad Uninteresting setting

The Bottom Line Deftly blending tried-and-true mechanics with a brand-new way to move, Hybrid is a fresh, exciting shooter.

Available on Xbox Arcade.

8.0 Overall

Just when you thought you'd had your fill of third-person shooters with cover mechanics, along comes Hybrid to show you something new. It may not be immediately apparent, given the generic sci-fi setting and fairly standard arsenal, but the innovations here are significant. Hybrid fundamentally reimagines the way you move through the world, and the result is a battlefield that feels exciting and novel.

6390809NoneAsk not for whom the Preyon shrieks; it shrieks for thee.

It's all in the movement. In Hybrid, you are either in cover or flying between cover. There is no freedom to run around, no going off into a corner to find a perfect sniper perch--these maps are built around cover hotspots located on the floor, the walls, and the ceilings. The only places you and your enemies can physically be are in cover or in the air, traveling to cover. You're essentially traveling on wires between fixed positions, and you rarely have more than two visible destinations at any time.

This may sound limiting, but like with any well-designed gameplay mechanic, there is room for flexibility. To travel, simply look at a cover position and tap the A button. You will automatically jetpack to your destination, but your flight path is not a fixed trajectory. Using the left stick, you can climb, dive, strafe, and swoop as you progress steadily forward. You can quicken your pace by boosting, or reverse direction and head back to your point of departure. You can even change course by selecting another cover point midair, which allows you to stay airborne longer and quickly traverse sizable sections of the stage. Just like that, your on-rails transit between points is not so on-rails, and you've got room for strategic maneuvering.

You also have the right analog stick and trigger free for gunplay. Whether you're targeting entrenched enemies or flying foes, your arsenal provides a familiar framework for combat, offering shotguns, rifles, SMGs, machine guns, heavy pistols, and so on. They are effective in the usual ways, and are fun to pair with the novel movement mechanic. A close-quarters shotgun blast always packs a punch, but if you've zoomed in low to surprise your enemy, or lain in wait as an incoming foe peppers you with fire from above, that powerful shot is all the more satisfying.

Kill successfully, and you are rewarded with a robotic ally. One kill gets you a little hover drone that provides close fire support and can serve as a helpful decoy. Three kills earns you a bulky gunship that flies lazily around the map, firing on enemies and serving as an impromptu mobile shield. Tally five kills, and you can unleash a homing missile that takes the form of a flying, shrieking, holographic lady ninja.

6390810NoneIf you wanna make your move, you got to play it cool.

These drones can all be helpful and deadly, or they can be easily destroyed and contribute to your enemies' kill streaks. Figuring out when to best deploy them is an interesting tactical consideration. You can have one of each stored for deployment, and unleashing a host of drones as you approach an enemy position is a good way to tip the odds in your favor. Drones emit a burst of light when created, which means they can give away your position, but they also persist after your death, potentially earning you kills from beyond the grave. The fact that they are awarded at such low thresholds makes these kill streak rewards an integral part of regular gameplay, rather than occasional anomalies that disrupt the flow of combat.

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