By Philip Dunkley
I hate reviewing a game after it’s already made the headlines for being a generically bad game, because if you review it badly, everyone says you’re jumping on the bandwagon. Now I know for a fact that I am not a bandwagon rider, and even in games that have been slated in exclusive reviews or the like, I still try and find something worthwhile within a game, and look for the silver lining. Unfortunately, I struggled to find that silver lining in Haze, and even though the game has a few riveting moments, it falls very short of the hype that was built around it.
Where to begin. The story(If you want to call it that) revolves around a new Sergeant in the Mantel Global Industries, thrown into the thick of battle after planning a routine observation mission with some of THE most annoying teammates I have ever played alongside in a game. These meatheads, high on the effects of Nectar, Mantel’s Superdrug, making its taker stronger, faster, better reflexed and obviously as thick as two short planks, are truly a â€œpleasureâ€ to be around, and convinced me within 10 minutes of gameplay to actually start shooting them instead of the Rebels, who I could not wait to join, but that’s a whole other story. After a couple of missions, just after getting used to the â€œNectarâ€ mechanic, one which heightens all senses and makes the enemies stand out in the environment, it is abruptly taken away from as you join the Rebel side of the fight.
Basically, the game is a generic FPS, set in a futuristic world where War is rife and you believe you have signed up to do some good after coming directly out of college, but you quickly begin to realise that war and morality are two very serious issues. The gameplay switches between two basic modes, one is based on foot, and is simple FPS stuff, and the second is based around vehicle combat, a flawed mechanic, because if any of the world’s real life vehicles handled like this, we’d all be six foot under. When playing on Mantel’s side, you have the ability to inject â€œNectarâ€ into the blood stream, which lasts for a short burst of time, and the more people you take out while high on the drug, the longer the effects last. But this mechanic is also flawed. All too frequently, a message pops up saying Nectar Disruption, stopping all flow, and blurring and warping all vision, making it harder to deal with the enemies. Then you get the overdose, which can hit you unexpectedly, throwing the player into a fit of delusion, not able to tell the difference between friend and foe, automatically discharging whatever weapon the player is wielding, and even if pointed to the sky, ends up killing an fellow teammate. After joining the rebel side, this feature disappears, and a new mechanic takes over where the player can fake death, only to resurrect and surprise the enemy from behind. You are also able to use the nectar against the enemy by creating Nectar bombs, and sending the Mantel troops into overdose mode. The game also uses the Sixaxis controls, but forcefully, like shaking the controller to extinguish flames (Oh the graphics of these are priceless) when the player is on fire.
Then we need to take a look at the AI within the game, or the lack of. Enemies can go from being mightily sneaky, ambushing you at the weirdest of times, to plain stupid as they run directly towards you firing off an umpteen amount of rounds, missing almost all the time. Melee combat is even worse, because if you get just that bit to close, it seems as if the opposition runs straight through you, and turns about ten times faster than you. One thing that does need to pointed out here, is the fact that one mechanic that is loads of fun, is stealing a weapon from your opposition whilst playing on the Rebel front, and shooting his face in with his own weapon.
The graphics of the game are average to say the least. The lack of detail on almost all structures and foliage leaves you playing in bland environments, feeling very dated and unimpressionable. The textures are just too simple to enthuse any vividness into the world. The animations are also tired, and if I see another teammate dancing after killing someone, I’m going to crack. The sound in the game actually performs quite well, and the title track, called Haze, from Korn, is actually a great track, if you like Korn that is.
The problem with all of this, is that not only are there a large amount of bad features in the game, it seems like they have been slapped together in a fashion that can only be described as sloppy, and although these shortcomings are not individually that bad, together they add up to a complete mess.
Now, after slating this game to pieces, and deservedly so, cause a game should not irritate a player, not consistently anyway, there are some plus sides to this game. Some of the levels are intuitively designed, making for a thrilling experience. Some of the missions are really action packed, making for a rollercoaster ride of chaos, and actually allowing the player to ignore the negatives for a short while. The only problem is, is that these moments are few are far between.
In conclusion, the only reason this game is getting some kind of score from me, is because it actually worked and some the times it caught my attention, and gave me some pleasure. The concept was a great idea, and could have been amazing, especially with all the mechanics involved in the game, but it turns out to be a huge disappointment, and one I can honestly not recommend to anyone.
Scoring:Gameplay: 3/10 (Just too darn sloppy)
Presentation: 4/10 (Not a Next-Gen effort by any means)
Sound: 7/10 (One part of the game that’s not bad)
Value: 4/10 (Need I say more)
Overall: 4/10 (Sorry guys, back to the drawing board)
Better Than: Soldier of Fortune: Payback
Worse Than: Not enough space to here to list them
Last Updated: May 27, 2008