In a bleak totalitarian future, all games will be reviewed at Fidget Magazine.
Timing’s a funny thing in gaming world. Sometimes there’s a near mystical convergence of time, quality and luck that leads to the release of a game that marks a new console with particular levels of quality and brilliance. The PS3 has been out for some time now and has been waiting on the landmark release that would make it a must-have. Haze was meant to be that game, but sadly, it isn’t.
Haze is the futuristic tale of Shane Carpenter, a new recruit to the Mantel Corporation’s private army—a military force “enhanced” with a constant supply of an introveniously injected drug called Nectar. The drug boosts strength, causes enemies to glow red and makes dead foes vanish from sight. Naturally, the corporation is a bad lot and Shane begins to see it when his Nectar supply starts having issues. When he finally sees through the propaganda and experiences the horrors of war, it forces him to ask whether he’s on the right side. Cue the inevitable twist, shown in every trailer for the game, when Shane takes arms against Mantel and everything is reversed.
As far as FPS games go, it’s a good story. Had it been handled slowly and with some subtlety it could have done a lot. Instead, the heavy-handed script is so clumsy that it hurts, with characters whining at you in long platitudes that are painful to listen to and, even worse, are unskippable. In trying to make a moral comment, New Radical has built an adult game with an anti-war and anti-drugs message that’s patronising even to 5-year-olds. In fact, everything to do with the all-too-frequent cutscenes causes problems, as each is bookended by a sudden fade to black and occasionally a few wonky textures and freezing as well.
Even with graphical glitches, bad scripts and a mishandled morality aside, Haze has an overriding flaw that keeps shining through: it wants too desperately to be Halo. When the developers of exclusive PS3 titles stop simply ripping off old X-box exclusives, there may really be some great gaming on this system. Until then, it’s a case of grinning and bearing it through some very average games.
This is a crying shame, as Haze is frequently a pretty damn good shooter, and there is a lot of fun to be had blasting the crap out of glowing rebels, and even more in making Mantel troopers overdose on nectar. Even the obligatory driving sections are quite a good laugh. The asymmetrical sides make for interesting dynamics during multiplayer, and there’s also the added bonus of four player co-op modes so you can have a laugh playing the 6-hour-long campaign with a few mates round.
All in all, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and unless you’re a Sony-fanboy who wants his own Halo clone there really isn’t much to recommend here.