Haze

Developer: Free Radical Design
Publisher:  Ubisoft

I remember there being a fair amount of hype for this game, there was even a publication that called it a 'Halo killer', I also remember how the game seemed to have fallen off everyone's radar after it released and now that I had a chance to play it, I can see why. Halo has absolutely nothing to fear from Haze.

Haze is bad, it's really bad, not in the sense 'so bad it's good', but instead 'so bad it's painfully boring'. 

You play as Shane Carpenter, an annoying hipster kid who joined Mantel, a futuristic private security/mercenary force because he felt 'it was the right thing to do', said corporation keeps its forces in line by constantly pumping them up with a performance enhancing drug named 'nectar' which makes you faster, more resistant, makes it easier to spot enemies and turns your douchey squadmates into super-douchey squadmates. 

Seriously, these guys are completely unlikable they don't even feel like characters as much as they feel like parodies of high-school bullies, I get that the game is trying to portray them as the bad guys so that Shane eventually joins the rebels, but the way the writing handled it was embarrassing and when you do join the rebels it's complete opposite: The rebels have no personality at all, outside of their leader whom you don't really know that much about you never talk to anyone, you just assume they're the good guys.

On the gameplay aspect, things don't fare much better, there is zero enemy variety, they all look the same (especially when fighting Mantel), they all act the same and the vast majority of them use the same weapons, made even worse by how laughably bad the A.I. we're talking early-to-mid PS2 gen levels of A.I. here.

The game also tries to add some gameplay variety by giving you vehicle sections, but most of these are handled very poorly, for starters, you only get to one vehicle per faction, moreover I found that these stages consist of little more than one long corridor and the levels where you have to drive these through a minefield are just unbearable.

Graphically the game is extremely inconsistent, the Mantel land carrier looks great and crisp, whereas the jungle, explosions or the surrounding environments look sub-par, or at times, downright lazy, the worst offender being an on rails assault on the Mantel carrier, where you'll be shooting it's weakpoints on one side and once you're done, it magically teleports you the other side without so much as a cutscene.

Finally, if you thought the multiplayer might be its one saving grace, you're out of luck as Haze's servers have been shut down, meaning no competitive play and no multiplayer co-op.

Haze is just one big mess after another, at times you get to see what they were going for but it was just so poorly handled and at times it feels so rushed that it ultimately makes for a very boring game.

Pros:
- Graphically looks pretty good in some areas
- It had some nice ideas

Cons:
- Terrible story, terrible characters annoying voice acting
- Mantel Squad mates are all a-holes, Rebel squad mates have no personality
- Terrible enemy A.I., boring weapon variety, boring enemy variety
- Driving sections range from decent to unbearable
- Multiplayer servers have been shutdown
- Graphically it's somewhat inconsistent

Final Grade: F+

Though the boxart borders on the generic side, I can't deny how eye catching it is, the broken helmet with the soldier staring at the viewer really draws me in.

Inside you'll find the disc and a 28 page manual and an inner box artwork.

The game's manual is actually pretty good, going into more depth on how to play the game then you'd expect from a shooter in this day and age, it also features character background information and some artwork stills I also liked the ad for the first Assassin's Creed game on the back of the manual.

Overall, it's a pretty good packaging, the manual makes for an interesting read, the boxart is certainly catchy and if  it doesn't appeal to you there's always the alternate inner boxart.

Packaging Grade: B

3 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, I remember this game. This one was an early -- or semi-early -- entry in the PS3's library, IIRC. And judging by your post and the critical backlash, it shows.

    I guess one can forgive the shoddy technical aspects of an early-ish game (so to speak), but it's just kind of sad that Haze had to come along with a bad story. You would think that the story would be the first and easiest thing to get nailed down for any game, and potentially the most satisfying, but here we are.

    Haze. More like "Haze, guys -- don't play this game" am I right?

    ...Well, they can't all be winners.

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  2. Oh god...this game. I remember playing this a ways back and it was just BAD. I have to say that your review was spot-on.

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  3. Hahaha, I remember there was a webcomic that talked about this game.

    "Dude, someone broke into my car!"
    "Did they take your copy of Haze?"
    "No! They left another one!"

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