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Hybrid Heaven Preview

Publisher - Konami
Developer - Konami
Platform - N64
Release Date - April 1999
Type - Adventure/Platform

Shown on video at both E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo) '97 and '98, Konami's Hybrid Heaven never fails to draw a crowd with its lush graphics and seemingly smooth gaming experience. When it was first unveiled last year, the title was immediately thrust into the spotlight as the 'Metal Gear Solid for Nintendo 64.' It seemed a likely fit at the time. Both games were developed by Konami, after all, and both games were 3D polygonal with a futuristic theme.

But what looks like an action shooter, is actually a full-fledged roleplaying game, complete with menu-driven battles and incredible fighting scenes. But that's not all.

The name Hybrid Heaven is in many ways apt because it is just that, a blend of genres -- adventure, action, and role-playing elements. Hybrid Heaven takes players through a dingy, futuristic city and pits the hero, Johnny Slader, against a hostile motley crew of mutating creatures.

The story opens with the President of the United States being taken hostage by an unknown force. A Spec Ops team headed by Slader is sent in for a rescue mission and immediately becomes enveloped in a twisted plot of government conspiracy, cover-ups, and genetic experiments.

Searching through the industrial dredges of the nearly evacuated city, Slader finds that things have indeed gone to hell. The results of a government-funded genetic experiment that took place on a space station have now arrived on Earth, and what was supposed to be the ultimate soldier is now the ultimate Frankensteinian horror, able to manipulate other life forms to do its bidding. Left in this experiment's wake are belligerent mutants that progressively evolve throughout the course of the game, gaining more beguiling physical characteristics as time moves forward.

Konami says the game will highlight realtime adventuring and turn-based combat, and is not like the spy-intensive military themes found in Metal Gear Solid. As far as the turn-based combat, instead of encountering enemies and then switching to a new screen, like in Final Fantasy VII, for instance, camera angles switch, moving into a turn-based combat sequence. In many ways, Hybrid is more than an RPG, engaging gamers in both action and turn-based combat that includes the use of weapons, fighting moves, and techniques that the player first has to learn.

Rather than going for a pseudo-3D view like in Final Fantasy, Hybrid Heaven is played from a third-person perspective in realtime rendered 3D (much like Tomb Raider, Super Mario 64). As mentioned before, the views will occasionally change for fighting scenes and cut-scenes that drive the story forward. Like magic spells in a traditional RPG, Director Yasou Daikai says new fighting moves may be earned as players gain experience. Also, weapons include loads of explosives and firearms.

The few scenes Konami has revealed thus far show Slader running through 3D environments encountering mutant creatures and fighting it out. The many cut-scenes that explain the game's twisting plot impress with smooth framerates and complex lighting effects, such as a train speeding through a subway station. Be sure to take a look at the Quicktime move it get an idea of what the game will look like.

We will keep digging for more information on this promising 1999 RPG. Check the Releases Section for the latest dates.