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Jul 21, 2008

Review: Haze

Ubisoft, Free Radical
Available for the Playstation 3

When a game company is known for creating great game titles and then spends two years hyping a game as the next coming in the first person shooter genre, that company is basically setting itself up for either a make it or break it situation. Free Radical, famous for titles like GoldenEye 007 and Timesplitters, setup their most recent PS3 exclusive title, Haze for a “make it or break it” release and now we’re going to see if it paid off for them.

Haze is the story of Shane Carpenter, a young Mantel soldier that's dispatched, along with the rest of his squad, to the Boa Region of South America. The largest PMC in the world, Mantel has an army of enhanced warriors boosted with their specialized "supplement" known as Nectar. With a large force at its disposal, Mantel has been asked to go in and pacify the region from the dangerous "Promise Hand", a militant group of rebels headed up by the villainous Skin Coat. However, Carpenter finds that his mission to liberate the indigenous people is not what it appears to be, and after one objective takes an unexpected turn, he finds himself defecting to the rebel cause and fighting against his former squad mates.

Generally I am not a FPS fan because I’m terrible at them and I don’t get enjoyment from 12-year-olds pwning my butt online over and over again. Much to my delight, Haze was actually pretty easy to pick up and even the levels were passable without dying 20 times over first. The nectar drug enhancements, when used properly, make finding enemies in the jungle incredible easy with its heat vision affects and the A.I. seem to fit each difficultly level perfectly. In other words, the A.I. was easy to beat on easy and that’s good for FPS noobs like me.

Once you get into the shoes of the rebels though, you no longer have nectar and have to get smarter in your use of battle strategy. The ability to play dead takes some time to master and luckily the Mantel Corp. troops aren’t as fast or good a shot as you were on nectar, which makes taking them out a lot easier.

The single-player campaign can be played cooperatively with up to 4 players via split screen, LAN, or Online and this is where Haze really shines. The ease with which you can join a quartet of players is so seamless and simple, even allowing access to your PSN friends list, that you’ll wish all your games had the same ability. This certainly makes the campaign more engaging; with many of the levels owing themselves to cooperative play. Plus, if you’re having trouble in the single-player, why not invite others to help you out?

The environments in Haze start off lush, green and beautiful but slowly turn into dull, brown & grey wastelands and corridors that fail to impress. With stunning games like Uncharted and Heavenly Sword on the PS3, Haze’s dull graphics just don’t stand out on a system we know graphically is capable of so much more. The voice-overs for the game, while well done, lost their impressive sound behind the redneck dialog of your squad mates. All those “Biatch” and “Booyah” battle cries made me want to switch to the rebel side long before the storyline made me.

Hype can ultimately turn a decent game in a mega failure, but I think if PS3 fans are able to put the hype aside, Haze isn’t such a bad title. The co-op play is unique and formatted well, and the moral storyline is designed to show a little glimmer of our own possible future. It may not be GoldenEye 007, but how can you pass up the chance to play a game that lets you shoot enemies while juiced up on super powers?

Haze: 6 out of 10
Rent it!

Winner of the Korn Vs Haze Music Video.

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