After the occurrence of an incredible continent destroying accident of science, space time was shattered allowing an alternate reality to converge with our own. In a post-apocalyptic future in which Australia has been – obliterated two factions battle in a world wide war. Human Paladins vs the Variants, creatures from a twisted alternate reality. Anti-matter is the key to victory, for either side. Gather enough and win; fail and doom your faction to extinction. This is the world of Hybrid

5TH Cell took a step away from its typical adorable style (see Scribblenauts) to craft a unique and innovative third person shooter. Well, mostly innovative. Hybrid is a bi-polar mix of the very generic and the very original. Now these generic elements don’t detract from the game overall, they are the needed and expected pieces of a shooter. A wide variety of weapons are available throughout the armory, all but a couple are exactly what you’d expect. And all the standard game types are present and accounted for. The look of Hybrid is also straight out of the recycle bin, with forgettable environments and the fairly typical space dudes that are so armored up they might as well be robots (Secton 8, Tribes, Halo, etc).

Where Hybrid shines is pretty much everywhere else possible. Unlike other shooters that only feature some sort of cover system Hybrid only offers cover. Player’s movements are restricted to more or less straight lines between stationary cover. Selecting a spot to move to will send you jetpacking in that direction, while on the path you can slow yourself by aiming down your sights, speed up with a boost, strafe within a limited range, or ascend/descend also within a limited range. You’re also allowed to select another cover area and change your flight path in transit; plus one button press at any time will send you retreating to your last cover location.

Hybrid presents the player with a bunch of movement options and allows one to remain airborne indefinitely, but always moving in straight lines. The restricted movement takes a little time to get use to but it makes for very cool gameplay and shifts the traditional run and gun shooter mentality to a more flanking/position control and manipulation strategy. The level progression through an experience system that unlocks new weapons, abilities, and some cosmetic customization with independently leveling specializations work to keep the player playing.

All that awesome without one mention of the meta game that’s at work. Your multiplayer matches are only skirmishes in the larger battle for the planet. The world map is divided into continents (the ones that are left) which are further divided into districts. Each district offers each faction a base that represents one of the specializations, by putting in work to win that district for your faction you’ll also be leveling your team’s base which affects your specialization. The only way to improve any one of your specializations is to fight for a district with the desired spec as its base. It isn’t as complex as I’m making it out to be, I promise. So, you play matches to earn XP both for your level and to count toward winning that district. The first faction to max out XP in a particular district is awarded 2 anti-matter while the other faction is awarded 1 if and when they max out that same district’s XP for their side. First faction to 100 antimatter wins the war, reaps the benefits, and resets the world back to zero.

Hybrid is absolutely worth the 1200 Microsoft Point price. It’s a fun shooter that is unlike pretty much anything out there. The only complaint against it is in its micro-transactions. Yeah, micro-transactions. Basically you can short circuit the awards based on level progression by buying stuff you haven’t earned. You’ll have to use real money to purchase MS point (fake currency) which in turn is spent to buy credits in game (different fake currency) which is then used to unlock weapons and abilities and cosmetics. A system that gives a leg up to the rich over the poor, just like in real life. Well I don’t know about you but I play video games so much because I friggin’ hate real life.