it's not exactly the game that's advertised on the tin, “Hybrid
Wars” offers compelling mashup of addictive explodey gameplay
2016-09-30 04:16 am
Seth “Fingers” Flynn Barkan
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After booting up “Hybrid Wars” for the first time, users
cannot help but experience a fundamental disconnect between the game
they are playing with the game advertised to them via the
super-wicked-cool, demi-cell-shaded, vectorized, anime, psycho badass
mechanized Steam video. I think I speak for a lot of the peeps who
bought and played the game when I say that - at first blush - I felt
let down. Ok... I felt used like a starry-eyed engenue rufied and
ball-gagged into her starring debut as a third reel snuff-film
victim... AT FIRST...
Granted, it's a high hurdle for any game to climb and recover from
(its first impression imparting an initial sense of whimper-inducing
crushing disallusionment/disappointment) however, gamers with the
patience to fight past their preconceptions and actually play through
the first few missions just might discover that they are (GHASP)
Ya see, deceptive (aka "excellent") marketing and
advertising aside, "Hybrid Wars" is basically a
re-envisioning of the classic "Desert Strike" series of
demi-isometric, semi-realistic, very-much action-oriented,
mission-driven series of games for the old Sega Genesis. The only
real twists in the formula here are that, this time, instead of
piloting an Apache attack helicopter on a series of tactical solo
missions to neutralize strategic objectives, this game puts you in
control of an exoskeloton capable of interfacing with a variety of
insanely powerful and amazingly destructive mechanized units. These
range from your average, run-of-the-mill bipedal, 5 story-tall,
railgun-spitting, missile-spewing, jump-jetted gigantic mechanized
robots to damage-absorbing king-tiger-class armored infantry (i.e.
the tanks from "Tron"), as well as lithe, responsive, sleek
and lethal futuristic helicopters.
While all of these unbelievably lethal forces of catastrophic,
explosive mayhem are super fun to play, I think that (after an
initial four-ish hours of gameplay) the real star of the show is your
character's exosceletal armor: designed as the main character's
mercenary proof-of-concept demonstration for a new strategic combat
theory described as "One Man Army," the exoskeloton allows
you the greatest freedom of movement of all the vehicles, and, once
leveled up, grants you some of the most devistatingly effective
tactical options (turn-coating enemies being chief among them).
The tricky thing about "Hybrid Wars" is that its an
initially utterly unimpressive experience that takes time to
appreciate: it's a double-barreled blast-fest that appears mindless
at first, but after the initial intro missions, reveals its delicious
and addictive explodey mayhem via the strategic decisions the player
gets to make in terms of choice of vehicles; you get to jump in and
out of different "weapons platforms" a lot, and frequently
have an open choice of which to use for what at any given time. Thus,
in the midst of the mindlessly addictive blastification and chaotic
hellish horror that is happening (seemingly without any nuance or
thought) around you, I think that there may be a lot more
"strategery" involved than meets the uninitiated eye.
These suspicions are also supported by the fact that the game lets
you level up your character and the vehicles that he uses based on
the amount of time and kills wracked up using each platform.
Basically, if you killed 80 percent of the opposition using one type
of mech (and yes, there are multiple different types of bipedal
"ROBOT JOCKS" mechanized robots), then that model of mech
is going to have more upgrade points available in between missions
than the five percent you killed with the exosceloton or the fifteen
percent destroyed with the helicopter. This further factors into your
choice of armament while furiously blowing shit up within the
missions. After you complete the objective successfully, you then get
to upgrade each piece of hardware individually, spending upgrade
points for multiple vehicles and in various different areas of
expertise/specialization, all of which only accentuates the
deliciuousness of the large-scale destruction throughout the game.
After almost twenty years in games journalism, I have to say that
this isn't a review - I'm ten hours away from giving you my final
verdict on "Hybrid Wars." However, I can say that it's a
super-explodey, surprisingly addictive, and unexpectedly nuanced
mash-up of a brainless blast-fest on a humongoid-scale, featuring
futuristic tactical combat (rendered in fast-paced yet effective
shorthand), wrapped up in the delicious taco shell of a
city-destroying giant-robot technopocolypse, replete with a light and
cordite-encrusted coating of caramelized RPG elements that never
interrupt the incendiary fireworks at center stage. I really enjoy
its hard and fast "come-at-me-motherfuckah" brand of
shooterization, and I think that gamers who are ready to give this
sucker a real test drive might come away as "One Man Army"
converts, rail-gun-death-ray disciples just like we were when it was
Flynn Barkan is the author of "Blue Wizard Is About To Die,"
and is the host of the Best Linux Games Podcast, a weekly audio
podcast covering only the best games available for the GNU/Linux
Operating System. Which will own you, SUCKAH!