Haze

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Haze
256px-Haze boxart.jpg
So named because it was overcast by better games, and made many people fume.
Genre: First-person shooter
Platforms: PlayStation 3
Release Date: May 20, 2008
Developer: Free Radical Design
Publisher: Ubisoft
Franchise: N/A
Previous Game: N/A
Next Game: N/A

Haze is a first-person shooter game that was released exclusively for PlayStation 3 in 2008, made by Free Radical Design of TimeSpliters fame (who would go on to become a subsidiary of Crytek) and published Ubisoft. The game was originally going to receive Xbox 360 and PC versions, but both versions were scrapped.

It was hyped as a "Halo killer" with anti-war themes, coming out only a year after Halo 3. This caused everyone who remembered the original Killzone to roll their eyes right out of their skulls at Sony trying this exact same line again. Upon release, the game was panned by critics and gamers alike. Some people consider this to be one of the PS3's worst exclusives.

Plot

Sergeant Shane Carpenter is a member of the world-ruling Mantel Corporation, whose private military company enhances their soldiers with a drug known as Nova-Keto-Thyrazine, also called "Nectar". The drug not only enhances the performance of the user, but also create hallucinations of a painless battlefield, devoid of death and destruction.

Shane and his fellow troops are deployed to South America to eliminate a group of rebels calling themselves "The Promise Hand", led by Gabriel "Skincoat" Merino. When his Nectar administrator fails to function, he becomes horrified by the harsh realities of war, gets hunted down by his former comrades-in-arms, and ultimately defects to the rebels.

It should be noted that the plot of the game was originally intended to take place in present-day Iraq before being relocated into a sci-fi setting.

Why It Sucks

  1. Terrible storyline. For example, the plot twist is negated by there being no difference in how the player and friendly AI operate after joining the Promise Hand.
  2. Makes a clumsy attempt at giving an anti-war message that felt like a Captain Planet episode, and can't decide if it's trying to talk about real-life war or complain about Call of Duty.
  3. The game also can't decide if Nectar is supposed to be a metaphor for propaganda or oil.
  4. Multiple rewrites resulted in cutting out most of the ideas that would have made the game interesting. For example, the cover shot of Shane with a smashed faceplate is from a scene that is in one of the trailers but not the final game.
  5. Poor planning: much of the development time and budget was wasted on licensing an advanced task-based AI system where enemies would evaluate their circumstances and figure out the best course of action, only for Free Radical to discover the system could not be made to operate on the PS3's hardware. This forced them to discard almost all of their work and start over.
  6. Several major plot events make no sense at all, such as why Merino's peaceful village has a nuclear missile parked a hundred yards away. Or why Mantel soldiers don't keep tripping over invisible bodies.
  7. The game's "harsh realities of war" are less harsh than the games it's trying to reference: no World at War-style gore or dismemberment here, just a few piles of low-detail bodies and some anaemic blood splats.
  8. Extremely unlikable characters, particularly your Mantel squadmates.
  9. Over-the-top, hammy, and downright terrible voice acting with cheesy dialogue that makes the first Resident Evil sound like an Oscar-winning performance.
  10. Choppy framerate.
  11. Graphics that often fail to render vehicles, making them invisible.
  12. Hideous, chunky weapon models that look and feel like toys.
  13. None of the allied NPCs ever shut up.
  14. The single-player mode has a lack of any real challenge, caused by the following:
    • Nectar itself, which is available for the first half of the game. Silly name aside, the game tries to portray the drug as a bad thing, however it gives so much advantages that you’ll just keep on using it whenever available.
    • While playing as a Mantel soldier, you also somehow regenerate ammo for your unequipped weapon, so just shoot a Mantel sniper and grab his overpowered rifle to sail through the entire first half of the game.
    • When playing as a rebel in the second half, you can play dead. While doing this you will regenerate your health and then wake up. The mechanic was so poorly handled that it can be easily abused.
    • You can also "scavenge" ammo for your equipped weapon, so you can once again just grab a Mantel sniper rifle to sail through the second half of the game.
    • Extremely anti-climactic final boss fight. Just shoot him a few times with a rifle and he dies. It also suffers from unfair difficulty due to the fact that he is equipped with a pistol that can kill you in 2 hits.
  15. The single-player mode is also very short. It can be beaten in 3 and a half hours!
  16. There is no option to alter aiming sensitivity, because the different "feel" of Mantel and Promise Hand soldiers is supposed to be part of the multiplayer faction balance.
  17. Most of the Rebel abilities are completely useless in Multiplayer. In particular, no human player will be fooled by a Rebel playing dead, since they do not drop their weapon when they go down in the play dead animation.
  18. The multiplayer has bots, but unfortunately said bots have poor AI.
  19. Wastes the talents of Korn as they create the theme song of the game.
  20. Free Radical's there-aren't-enough-airquotes "writer" Rob Yescombe had the gall to complain that the UK government wasn't doing enough to support videogame studios, in a transparent attempt to drum up money to finish Haze after both Sony and Ubisoft had told FRD they weren't getting any more. Thankfully, this didn't work.

Trivia

  1. The game was originally going to be set in present-day Iraq, and the PMC's name was originally Mantle.

Videos

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