By Jeffrey Matulef
In a lot of ways videogames are as notable for what you can't do in them as what you can. Bionic Commando's Nathan "Rad" Spencer could swing across chasms, but not jump. Resident Evil 4's Leon Kennedy could walk and shoot, provided he only did one at a time. And Red Dead Redemption's John Marston could single handedly take out gangs of outlaws, but not swim. Adding a new twist on this dichotomy of having extraordinary, but not ordinary powers is Hybrid; an upcoming XBLA multiplayer-only shooter that allows you to zip around on a jetpack, but not walk.
I'm not sure what the explanation for this is (maybe the characters are all paraplegics?), but Fifth Cell (Scribblenauts) creative director Jeremiah Slaczka is using this bizarre limitation to add a new wrinkle to the third-person shooter genre. The peculiar controls will allow you to fly between various cover points, but once you hunker down, you'll only be able to strafe along the wall before zipping out to find new cover from which to roost. Not having any traditional ground movement may sound restrictive, but it certainly gets points for originality.
When I caught up with Slaczka last summer he told me the game was entirely self-financed. Lucky for us, you needn't be a big spender to try the final product, as in a recent interview with Polygon, Slaczka made numerous references to the game being $15 (1200 Microsoft points). He explained that "In this day and age you can't have a bad shooter, even if you're $15." He later added, "I don't believe in Hybrid being Call of Duty $15."
Those with a taste for the offbeat will be able to unlearn what they've learned this summer when Hybrid is due for release on XBLA.