Hybrid Heaven is an unholy union of a few different genres. The RPG aspect is represented in the game's numbers-based approach to stats and level-ups, as well as in the menu-based fighting. The fighting-game genre peeks through a little bit in the game's combo system. The third-person adventure line makes up most of the rest of the game, forcing you to run around, climb onto boxes, hit buttons, and yes, shimmy sideways until there is room. Whether you like one or all of these types of games, Hybrid Heaven combines them in such a way that locks it firmly in the stack of games that were interesting attempts, but it ultimately isn't good for more than a rental.
The story is as confused as the game is. It starts off rather mysteriously, and doesn't really let you know what's going on until you're about four or five hours in. It seems that there's a secret group of synthetic humans living under Manhattan. They're working to replace the President with one of their synthetic human hybrids.They plan to take control of Earth's largest military force, then rule the world, ultimately making it a safe place for clones. Without giving away too much of the story, you play as Mr. Diaz, a blonde-haired hybrid with a penchant for face paint. You've just shot and killed the clone that the hybrids were using to get close to the President. Needless to say, the rest of your posse isn't exactly happy about your sudden change of heart. From there, the story bogs down with long-winded (and unskippable) cutscenes that detail all sorts of weirdo alien influence. The wording and punctuation used in these cutscenes are pretty atrocious in some parts, ranking up there with Metal Gear on the NES on the laugh-o-meter.
The gameplay starts out with you running around in a Tomb Raider-esque fashion. Armed only with your extremely silly defuser pistol, you run around and shoot little bubbles at sensors, security systems, and doors. Some doors require a key code, so you'll have to find a key-code-refreshing station to get the latest code put onto your all-purpose key. As you aimlessly run around the complex, you'll run into scientists who help you out with occasional information and other cutscenes. You'll also run into rooms with monsters in them. That's when the fighting portion of the game takes over.The fights are a little tough to sum up. It's like an RPG fighting system that takes place all in real time, and you can move wherever you want in the room you're fighting in. Basically, you've got a power meter. Once it charges to a certain point, you can execute an attack. When you want to attack, you simply get in range of your foe and hit the A button. At this point, the fight freezes, a menu pops up, and you select what kind of attack you'd like to do. If you've grabbed your opponent with the R trigger, you can hit the A button and call up a menu of available throws. If your opponent attacks, the action grinds to a halt yet again and you're given a few different lines of defense. After fights, you'll almost always level up in at least one of your stats, and you'll occasionally level up a part of your body. Your body is broken up into your torso, head, and each one of your limbs. The more you attack with a part of your body, the stronger it will get. As you take damage, the parts that get hit will gain experience, as well. You'll also learn any new moves that the computer had successfully used during the fight. This is a neat idea, but once you get good at dodging attacks and backing away until you're ready to strike, the computer won't get much of a chance to attack at all. Fighting quickly becomes an easy and quite boring necessity, but it's still far better than the rest of the game.
Hybrid Heaven supports the expansion pak, but I wouldn't say it enhances the game. When enabled, it lets you run in a higher resolution, which sports cleaner textures. However, using either of the two high-res modes chops the frame rate off at the knees and makes the game totally unplayable. In the standard resolution, the game's got a decent frame rate, but the textures turn to a mushy, blurry mess. The camera seems totally random. It behaves most of the time, but when you're backed against a wall or into a corner, it just can't decide what angle to show the action from.
Hybrid Heaven, to put it simply, is not a good game. But it's one of those little curious games that has to be seen at least once. The mishmash of genres is something that you need to see for yourself. Rent it, laugh at it, return it, and never think of it again.