Haze made a triumphant, yet detail-lacking debut during E3 2006 and has, since, managed to intrigue F.P.S. gamers by its combination of promise and vagueness. Since the many fans of the genre may still be doing some headscratching over Haze, we will offer you a refined look at what you may expect from Ubisoft's blockbuster.
Initially billed as a PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 title, Haze now carries a PS3 exclusive tag although it is likely that we will, eventually see a version for other platforms.
The game finds our hero as part of an elite fighting unit while during its progress the player will get to play for both sides of the same war and experience two unique game systems.
Set in the year 2048 in a world where governments have outsourced military operations to private military corporations (PMCs), you play as Shane Carpenter, a newly enlisted soldier seeking fulfillment and thrills by fighting for a good cause. As the leading PMC, Mantel Global Industries offers an array of cutting-edge military equipment, including a high-tech arsenal of vehicles, deadly weaponry, and the performance-enhancing drug Nectar.
Your conflict begins in a war-torn country where you have been sent to fight a vicious rebel faction, the Promise Hand. At first all is well, but things quickly begin to look a little strange…
Uncover the truth, switch sides, and break away from Mantel's manipulative grip when you join your former enemies, the Promise Hand.
MGI Provides High Tech and Snazzy Outfits
- Impeccable FPS credentials from the developers of the critically acclaimed TimeSplitters series and the publishers of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Far Cry. Free Radical and Ubisoft have proved their ability to create innovative, platform-defining FPS titles.
- Play both sides of the same war: Evolve from a ruthless high-tech Mantel Trooper to a cunning Promise Hand rebel, each featuring distinct game systems, weaponry, and abilities.
- Experience the power of a Mantel Trooper. You'll be equipped with the most advanced gear and deadliest weapons and empowered by Nectar, Mantel's battlefield-optimized performance-enhancing medication that lets you boost your fighting abilities and experience the highs and lows of drug-laden warfare. Perform fighting abilities such as Nectar Focus, Nectar Foresight, and Melee Blast
- Expose the truth, switch sides, and break away from Mantel's control. Join up with your former enemies, and lead the rebels against the Mantel army. Use your knowledge of your former teammates' weaknesses and new abilities and techniques such as Play Dead, Weapon Stealing, and the deadly Nectar Grenade.
- Cutting-edge gaming technology exclusively developed for the PS 3 system featuring the Disparity Rendering System which shapes players' views of the world on and off Nectar. Haze also features an entirely streaming experience and the groundbreaking Conspire AI System, in which all enemy behaviors are entirely dynamic - nothing is scripted.
- State-of-the-art multiplayer modes. Fire up your console for online battles and choose from a variety of online modes, including furious four-player co-op action! Play as both Troopers and Rebels and unveil hidden secrets from the single-player campaign.
Still confused? Read on to find out how Haze expects to use psychedelic drugs to enhance your fighting skills…
Much of the gameplay of Haze relies on the consumption of a dubious drug called Nectar. Much like the Greek Gods of yore, much of that which makes you special comes from the enhanced abilities provided by the sweet Nectar; unlike the Nectar of the Gods however, this juice has a few side effects.
You begin the game as the idealistic employee of a global, corporate giant; Mantel Global Industries. Thanks to its fat wallet, MGI offers the best in technology to soldiers while the push of a button will provide you with enough Nectar to hold a frat party. Nectar appears to be a vital aspect of the gameplay and will increase your physical strength, boost your health but will also provide some special abilities.
Those special abilities can help determine your in-game fate as the way you utilise them could make the difference between success and failure. The main benefits of Nectar consumption could be summarized as: Perception: the ability to see enemies in orange, thus spotting them with ease even under the most camouflaged of circumstances; focus: will make Lee Harvey Oswald pale into insignificance before you as headshots will come naturally to you; foresight: is Haze's version of the Spidey sense and will warn you of imminent dangers by using an odd, but aesthetically pleasing, on screen ripples emanating from the source of the danger; finally, melee blast will do exactly as stated on its tin.
A Quick Fix And The Future Berserkers Are Here
As mentioned earlier, Nectar will not be without its adverse effects and although Free Radical is keeping details of the storyline a secret, it is clear that use of Nectar will serve as a means of control of soldiers by MGI and may play a part in the main character's change of heart half way through the game.
Haze will also feature an unlimited time period for its story to develop as the entire game takes place over the course of three days. The various environments that will face the player will range from the classic, lush, jungle to the creepy quarry and the obscene observatory (sorry, couldn't resist), will allow players to move through them seamlessly; without any load screens. The vastness of the world of Haze will require vehicles, such as the marine buggy, in order for your squad to traverse the maps while offering an alternative means to dispose of those pesky rebels. As the story develops your character will find himself addicted to Nectar but his addiction will pale into insignificance before your own addiction to the virtual chemical and its level-upgrading powers.
Doped up and mean, our hero will also command his squad of MGI elites using simple orders such as cover, follow, attack and deploy; all issued through the D-Pad.
Another gameplay coup by Free Radical, they did create Goldeneye and Time-splitters after all, has to do with the hero's change of heart, having joined MGI an idealistic young man, our protagonist soon discovers, when the Nectar hangover allows him to, that his employers are not as righteous as he may have believed. Additionally he gradually discovers the sinister purpose of Nectar and attempts to escape from the Haze it creates, (get it?).
Although Haze is a futuristic title do not expect glistening weapons that defy the laws of gravity or any other laws really, the game is not about numerous weapons but rather, about the way the player uses them, or so Free Radical would have us believe. After all, the idea behind Haze is to offer two very different experiences of the same war. In many ways that is an admirable move by Free Radical which adds some depth to its storytelling; depth which seems creepily familiar as you get to experienced the polished, bloodless, Nectar-fuelled combat experience; once you join the rebels though you experience the gritty, bloody and dirty war which only reality can provide. So even though Haze is a futuristic experience, it has its feet firmly rooted in the contemporary ground. Once part of the rebel forces, the player can use his experience of Nectar to his advantage as some of its properties can be used to his advantage. When taking damage, rebels have the option of playing dead.Nectar-laced Mantel troops are not able to see downed enemies as Nectar will filter them out and that can work to your advantage in spectacular ways.
It's no secret that Gears of War has set the standard for co-op MP gameplay and Haze seems ready to take that standard on. Built with 4-player co-op in mind, Gears only had two, from day one, Haze seems ready to create some great gaming fun moments.
Multiplayer co-op is not an afterthought put together at the last minute but rather, offers a unique gameplay experience. The same level, for example, will be harder to tackle if 2 players are playing while even harder if 3 players are playing and so on.
Additionally, various features of the game truly shine when in co-op mode. Overdosing on Nectar, for example, can have tragic and hilarious repercussions during a co-op game as your trusted buddy becomes a ticking time bomb beside you. Team members will be able to leech Nectar off each other rather than waiting for their own stash to regenerate.
Like Gears of War, the comparison is unavoidable, you will have a few seconds to revivedowned team mates who will, more than likely, use the built-in VOIP system to gently and politely, inform you of their status. If you fail to revive them, or simply don't like them, you will have to wait until the next checkpoint before you can rely on their services again.
Get High With Your Friends
As a team, players will be able to turn the marine vehicles (buggies) into bullet spraying death traps as all passengers, excluding the driver, will be able to use their weapons while inside the vehicle.
Except for the online co-op mode, players will also have the option of a native split-screen co-op mode. Knowing that Free Radical have the split-screen experience of Time-Splitters under their belt we are fairly confident that they have what it takes to pull that aspect of the game off too.
There is a lot more to the MP aspect of Haze, Deathmatch and various Assault modes, but Free Radical are keeping many of the details under wraps for the time being. The developers have also hinted that during the objective-based MP missions, players will gain a better understanding of the single player story. Derek Littlewood, Team Leader at Free Radical, says, Working as a team also becomes far more integral to the game as you progress through it, but I'm not allowed to talk about that quite yet.
Haze is a true next-gen title and as such, offers everything players might expect from such a claim. The choice to start things off with a lush, tropical setting, in the tradition of Far Cry and Crysis, pays off and players are treated to dense vegetation, excessive amounts of environmental detail, smooth animation and beautiful rays of light filtering through the leaves. Character models are also extremely well crafted and help to add to the immersive qualities of the game.
The game engine does all you would expect from next-gen tech and the tropical foliage of your setting will appear just as dense, well defined and breathtaking as what you have seen demonstrated for Crytek's Crysis. The game engine manages to deliver all the eye-candy you would expect in a very smooth way, if we are to use the latest, E3 2007, demos as indicators of performance. Additionally, the engine will deliver a seamless experience and Free Radical promise that following the initial loading screen you will never encounter another; this feature, similar to Valve's Always in Control technology, should have a great impact on the immersive qualities of the game as players will enjoy a continuous, uninterrupted gaming experience.
Game Developers Agree - Buggies Will Be Essential In Future Warfare
It is often, mistakenly, assumed that next-gen means photorealism, it is however obvious that a AAA F.P.S. title debuting on the world's most powerful console, according to Sony claims, could not follow a different route. Player and NPC models are extremely lifelike while Free Radical's decision to limit the use of futuristic weapons goes a long way towards the realistic, gritty feel that Haze delivers.
Another noteworthy technological feat for Haze is the A.I., which has proved itself both, an intelligent and resilient enemy as well as a useful resource as an ally.
Due to the nature of some of the in-game features, especially the all-important Nectar, your squad mates are an integral part of your game tactics. A squad-mate, when playing as an MGI trooper, is a very useful asset but can serve as a ticking time-bomb due to the use of Nectar. All it takes is a Nectar overdose, as induced by a rebel Nectar bomb for example, to make your squad turn against you. It is during such events where you can have great fun with the A.I., especially when you play as a rebel.
The limits of the A.I. have yet to be explored but we have spotted many an enemy dispersing objects in the battlefield in order to use them as cover. It will be some time before we can examine the full potential of the A.I. implemented in Haze as Free Radical are keeping the details to themselves.
Haze developers, Free Radical, were on to a winner from Day 1. An excellent story which takes the player by the hand and hurls him into the game-world, technological improvements which create a photorealistic setting and promising gameplay make this a major title but…
The decision to make Haze a PS3 exclusive, at launch, coupled with the release schedule, make the game Sony's obvious Halo 3 killer. This choice shows that the developers are confident about their game but carries the inherent risk of pitting a new IP against the well-established Microsoft heavy artillery.
Having witnessed Haze in many different modes, we can certainly confirm that the game will deliver on most of its promises. What Free Radical have achieved is a solid next-gen F.P.S. experience but without the, so-often, associated gameplay concessions. Haze is a complete package, it offers all the bells and whistles you would expect but also attempts to challenge your perception of combat. Your player begins the title with the polished views offered by his upbringing and MGI's massive marketing machine but quickly discovers that the bloodless, scream-less experience is not reality but the effect of Nectar. The subsequent defection to the rebel side changes all that and does feel like you are taking on a different game.
Nectar Helps You Tell Friend From Foe - Unless Overdosing...
Whether Haze can take on Halo 3 is a rhetorical question as Halo 3 will sell what it is expected to sell; the real question for Ubisoft, Sony and Free Radical is whether the game can reach its target sales figures when big-name games such as Halo 3 will also be peaking. We certainly hope so as Haze represents a great step in the right direction for next-gen F.P.S. games.