Friday, 9 December 2011

Hybrid (PSX) - Guest Post

So here we are. The very first PlayStation first person shooter I ever played. The game that put me off playing first person shooters on consoles for almost a decade.

Say 'Hi!' to Hybrid!

Sometime in the super 3D future, a helicopter drops off a rendered guy with blonde dreadlocks who then stomps off into the distance very, very awkwardly.

Gyaah! Screens upon screens of text!

I can slow it down but it doesn't make it make any more sense. As far as I can gather, in the future the governments of Earth conspired with aliens to trade humans for alien technology and research into half-alien hybrids. Then there was a plague spread by a hybrid and the calendar went back to zero and all manner of awful stuff happened.

Into the spotlight step four brave heroes who dare challenge whatever it is I just wrote. Four characters... that's four completely different styles of play! Why, it's practically four games for the price of one! Who do we have on the roster for this amazing adventure?

George MacKenzie. Bionic badass who carries a great big whacking pistol... in his organic hand.

Akiko Tyler, semi-demi-half-human hybrid. What passes for Earth government these days is trying to exterminate all hybrids, so she's a bit miffed. I'm sure they're just jealous of her Awesome Magick Powers.

Likes: reading. Dislikes: being interrupted while reading.

'The Alien'. Nobody knows anything about the Alien, which means that he's really a dull character. Nobody picks the Alien. He's probably just a bloke in a suit. Go away, you.

And finally...

Brad T. Chesterfield! Nobody argues with Chesterfield because he's got a huge knife and one of the better middle initials. He's the guy from the intro, so I'll play as him. Plus he's called BRAD T. CHESTERFIELD.

Even better, according to MobyGames, in the Japanese version his name becomes Bloodchaser Field. Which one's his real name? THEY'RE BOTH HIS REAL NAME. AND THEY'RE BOTH AWESOME.

None of these characters look anything like the box illustration, by the way.

Alrighty. Our Brad hates government corruption and can smell it from many miles away. He's tracked it to this suspicious pile of metal panels and used his Sinclair PC 200 and his credit card to open himself up a route.

"Let's Go!!!"

It's a T junction. Right leads to... complete darkness. Left leads to... a robot to the face! Waaah!

My gun is absolutely useless! One shot a second! Retreat, Brad, retreat!

Star Trek photon torpedo stock sound effect!

I retreat back into the room where I started and use the wide open space to dodge the robot's slow laser blasts. I'm sort of shooting blind here. I'm hardly any distance away from the robot, but you can see he's nearly invisible in the darkness. Eight shots of my terrible gun later...

Oh, that's a satisfying sound! It sounds like a sack of washing machines falling down the stairs. That's the sound I want to hear when I blow up a chunky robot.

Crikey, what the hell are these?

Big glowing floating ball things with very large spikes on them. They're liking the smell of Brad's dreads.

They'd go down in one if I could hit them, but they're flying all over the place.

This sneaky robot thinks he's clever by hiding in the fog. I can't get him to come any closer, so we're shooting at each other down the corridor. I do like a bit of long-range gunning, but I'm running out of ammo here! I don't think any of these enemies has dropped anything at all so far. Thanks to those evil floaty balls sapping all my health, I've now got Brad panting down my ears as well. This is very distracting.

More robots hiding in the dark.

I've just realised I have absolutely no idea where I'm going. It's a 90s FPS, so I'm heading... forwards? Forwards!

It's funny how light the place can be when something explodes.

Up ahead is a bunch of switches that look absolutely nothing like switches. I end up activating most things in this place accidentally. It's surely only a matter of time before my recklessness triggers some kind of facility self-destruct system and I die running about, lost in the darkness like a duck.

My adventures lead to me a pitch black room full of deadly, deadly robots and spike spheres. It's on now!

"Come and geeeet it!"

When you're down to your last weapon and last hit of health and you have to keep popping your head out to take single shots at the enemy, and you're not blaming the game but rather taking it in stride and figuring out neat tricks to get yourself through, that's amore... could it be that I'm enjoying Hybrid?

After my amazingly super heroic last-bit-of-health struggle against the roomful of robots in the dark, and my truly edge-of-your-seat light-speed dash through the squishy ceiling trap rooms, I end up blowing myself to pieces when I forget the critical fact that defeated robots explode... in a room of exploding barrels.

Back to the start of the entire level!

It's not so bad. I know where I'm going now and the controls are getting easier to use with practice (it doesn't use the analogue sticks). It's a sad state of affairs when you have to pick up a powerup just to see the enemies at all, but I suppose if there's a switch the room that turns on the lights, you're explicitly making 'the dark room' a hazard to be defeated through ingenuity and lateral thinking.

Or in other words, blasting them all from just around the corner of a far off corridor because your guns have infinite range.

Or maybe I should have picked the guy with the bionic eye. Aaaaaaahh...

This is the first human enemy I've seen in the whole game so far. And she STILL doesn't drop any ammo.

You see those columns in the distance? (Pretend you do.) They're the switches I need to activate in order to raise the stairs to the exit. I think games should make interactive objects slightly more distinct than 'they have some red on them somewhere'.

Finally, I've done level 1. It turns out that Brad was looking for some kind of artifact thing and swiping it somehow lead him here. I'm lucky that they made it a big, glowing, flashing power-up-like object otherwise I might've been stuck in that level forever.

And I thought I was lost before. The objective of this level is to get inside some kind of anti-aircraft facility and shut it down so I can go somewhere else. This means I'm following the standard FPS quest of trading my way up the typical spectrum of keycards in the absolutely MASSIVE snowfields surrounding the building. At least I've got some appropriate 90s console FPS music to listen to. There's no chunky robot foes hiding in the distance here... OR IS THERE?!

Robots! Same Robots!

Dodging the incoming robot torpedoes is a lot of fun in these wide open spaces. (And you can't fault the level intro picture for not looking like the game.)

And then Brad trod on a landmine and instantly died. The end. I've got infinite tries, but I've restarted without any of my guns except the crappy starting one so I'm gonna just quit.

You heard me! I just quit!

Introducing Akiko! She's a no-nonsense magic user with no time for messing around... and fire powers that are also electric powers. Hey! That's almost exactly the same picture they used for Brad! That's gotta be cheating.

Akiko stole some secret rituals from somebody and by sheer blind luck they were the exact right rituals for locating corporate bases.

It's time to make a stealthy.

This levels exactly the same as Brad's level 1! And this gun's just as lousy as the Brad's one! I'm not making a stealthy at all! This sucks!

Alternative strategy: Fireballs! Fireballs everywhere!

They're faster firing than the starting gun and at least five times as powerful. They run off my health bar but the drain is so slight I can barely see it.

This is going a lot more smoothly for Akiko than it did for Brad. I'm running circles around these poor robots. Most of the time a single fireball hit is enough to disable any robot.

"Toys for the boys!"

The game seems to interpret my use of the pyrokinesis power as my not having any ammo, so whenever she picks up a gun she immediately switches to it and says her line. This is okay because her guns are pretty good.

"Try that again!"

This is more than a little distracting. Stop flying at my face, damn it!

It's easy to win the level when you know where all the switches-disguised-as-objects are!

Now let's see if Akiko's level 2 is any different from Brad's.

No, it's not.

If all the characters have the same levels, maybe they go from left to right in order of difficulty. George gets the ability to see where the enemies are and a great big whacking gun. Akiko gets near infinite fireballs and rocket powered megashoes. Brad needs nothing but his infectious over-enthusiasm.

I've found what killed Brad.

Poison pickups. A whole field of poison pickups. It would more of a black mark against the game's good name if it had a good name to start with.

This level is absolutely HUGE.

I only managed to find the key to the exit by pressing Activate on all the walls. I eventually found a wall that had a marking on it (a marking that WASN'T RED) that activated (after a short delay) a lift some way back into the level that led to another bridge leading to the key to the main door where the exit was.

"But mecha-neko! You're not showing us the level!" ... What can I say? Outside, it looks like a snowfield. Inside, it looks like what you can see behind the map. Grey boxes. Black boxes. Dark grey boxes.

This isn't the exit and it has nothing to do with anything. This is as interesting as it gets.

By the time I'd found the exit, I'd found all the level secrets along the way. I had three health bars, all the guns, invincibility shield, the works. And no use for most of it because Fireballs Is Best.

Akiko, brandishing her useless laser gun, is ready for more action!

But I'm not. I just quit again. I'd play as another guy, but I'd have to play through that level 1 and that level 2 all over again. It might not look like much from these screenshots, but you're missing many hours of aimless wandering in the darkness.

So there's Hybrid. It was nowhere near as bad as I remembered it. I wasn't expecting a fun frolic like PowerSlave, but this game is definitely better than Rex Blade. Rex Blade cries itself to sleep every night, wishing it was Hybrid.

I like the hand-coloured pictures. I think they're cute and silly and they give the game a reassuring, heartwarming, home-made quality. There's even some concept art and other bits and bobs on the disc for the avid Hybrid fan, like the daft wallpaper above. It's as if Hybrid was made by a group of friends who suddenly decided to make a game together. "I've got some really cool ideas for characters! I'll draw some pictures!" "I'm pretty good with them triangles, so I'll write a renderer!" "I can do you some music if you guys want."

"Yeah! This game is gonna be AWESOME!"

Definitely worth the 50p that was paid for it. It would have been worth 75p if it had quicksaves instead of poison pickups!


  1. You include a LOT of images in your posts.

    And that's pretty cool.

  2. I like how the artist is so enamored with animu but isn't quite competent enough to keep a person's face the same from picture to picture. Gives it a real "right out of DeviantArt" feeling. Only given the time period, it's more "right out of the anime club president's English notebook".


    > Coming out 2012

    > Not a sequel to/remake of this game

    Son, I am disappoint.

  4. Yaaay, nice game! Great review, too :)


Semi-Random Game Box