Haze Review - 17/06/2008

Well, after some of the biggest hype found in gaming history Haze has finally landed, but is it really all that it was cracked up to be? The demo was impressive; it felt solid and well paced, nothing too fast, which can completely destroy the feel of a good shooter.

Then came rumours that the demo was the one shown at E3 back in 2006, which this really kicked me and in fact made me even more excited; if the demo was that old what could really be in store for us when the game was released? Unfortunately, in some respects, the demo was actually taken from the completed product but still I was deeply impressed with the feel of the game. Unfortunately, most of that feeling was not to be carried on to the full game.

Haze as a starting idea sounds quite frankly amazing; with what could have been the best invention in gameplay ever, Nectar, but things just seem to fall away after that. It really is a great shame as it had so much potential coming from Free Radical of the majestic Timesplitters fame, but there is so much missing from Haze that it really makes things lack where brilliance should have been. There is a lot to love about the game and it really does feel fun to play, but it just isn't what people would have come to expect from the creators of Timesplitters.

It looks great at first, the lush jungle surroundings make a fantastic setting.

The beginning of Haze shows some of the best gameplay in an FPS, and not only that but holds a lot of the game's best hand. You start off as a fresh faced Sergeant Shane Carpenter, who having joined up with Mantel's PMC (Private Military Company) to become a hero fighting the good fight and all that. Mantel is a massive multinational company that develops drugs and in particular one drug called Nectar. Nectar works in a way that most real world recreational drugs don't in that it makes the user faster, quicker to react and most of all harder skinned.

Shane, about an hour into the game, decides that Mantel's war against a group of rebels called the Promised Hand is very wrong and so changes sides to aid the rebels and their wet-drip of a leader, Merino.

The story moves along at a break neck pace even through the game can be very plodding at times. During your short time as a Mantel soldier, you are introduced to Mantel's wonder drug Nectar. But way too soon you are ripped away from Nectar, before you can start using it in any other way but hitting it and running around like Rambo on speed. This is one of the biggest cripplers to the game as Nectar is pretty much the only thing that makes the gameplay of any interest at all. Nectar has some effects that aren't all that good as well as the improvements that I mentioned earlier too, basically Mantel uses the drug to control what the soldiers' in their PMC see and how they perceive the world. Nectar stops the soldiers seeing any death or the affects of war.

Vehicular sections are always a recipe for great co-operative fun.

Nectar has the most profound affect on how the game plays out; it makes Shane so much quicker and stronger that you end up feeling like a death-blossom in yellow and black spandex. For each soldier there is only six shots of Nectar but it is easily restored by either waiting around for a bit as your slots refill after a few minutes each, or by nicking the supply from your team-mates, which is so much quicker as all you need to do is position Shane behind any of his Mantel team-mates and hit square as many times as necessary to fill your slots back up. The great thing about Nectar is that you really do feel the effects in the game. If you move Shane around without Nectar coursing through his veins then he is so much slower and at times can feel sluggish, with his reaction times to being shot completely down. If Nectar is in use then the hit indicator, much like the one used by almost every FPS since COD4 was released, appears so very much quicker.

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