A really annoying trend I’ve come to forcibly accept in the video game industry today is that certain promising games end up sucking simply because the publisher pressurized the developer to release an unfinished product post-haste. While I really can’t think of all such disappointments in the past, Eidos’ Kane and Lynch: Dead Men comes to mind immediately. Following suit in that tradition we now have developer Free Radical’s crappy, mediocre, bland and highly uninspiring first person shooter called Haze. And this is from the same people who gave us the Time Splitters series... for shame!
In Haze you play as a Mantel soldier called Shane Carpenter who’s under the disillusion that he’s fighting for the right side, courtesy of all the Nectar coursing through his veins. And by Nectar I don’t mean the sweet juice made by flowers; I’m talking about enhancement drugs that offer Mantel troops a serious advantage in battle, making them faster, stronger, and smarter than the opposition. Two missions and tons of horrible dialog deliveries later, Carpenter realizes that the Promise Hand rebels – the very same people he’s been fighting against – aren’t the bad guys after all, so after a quick change of heart and uniform he now rolls with the rebellion.
First Person Shooters don’t have to have the most engaging story ever as long as they’re backed by solid gameplay (Painkiller anyone?) but sadly Haze has neither. For starters it’s full of some of the worst – and I mean the WORST – dialogs I’ve heard in a game till date. Not only are your team-mates useless in the heat of the battle, but for some reason they feel the need to continuously spew horrible lame dialogs all the time. It’s not campy, nor over the top, nor is it remotely funny... and your team-mates (especially the Mantel troops) simply come across as annoying, moronic and childish frat bros who love bumping chests with each other while shouting "Boosh!" at the top of their lungs.
If you think they’d shut up during combat, you’re wrong. In fact they pretty much do the opposite by continuously barking out cringeworthy stuff like "Oh man, that was so easy... it was like stealing candy from a handicapped baby!," or "How fkin awesome was that", and so on until you shoot them (which thankfully you can do) or mute the game. Fighting alongside the rebels doesn’t improve matters – they just keep saying "Remember your promise to Merino" (Merino is the leader of the rebels, by the way) over and over and over again. I swear if I ever come across the scriptwriters of this game I will punch them in the face and then suggest a career change ASAP.
Bad dialog apart, the game is as boring as watching paint dry, or observing grass grow, or staring at your ceiling, or all of the above. Enter an area, shoot all the mentally challenged enemies in the vicinity as they stare at each other oblivious to the bloodshed around them, and move on. The worst part is that the game never gives you a clear idea of what to do, as a result of which you sometimes find yourself in a reasonably big level desperately searching for a Rocket Launcher... while a nearby tank rains down heavy fire on your ass.
Besides the horrible gameplay and the pitiful dialogs, Haze has the dubious honor of being the ugliest PS3 game ever made. That’s right people, this game boasts of bland-looking levels, blander textures, and physics that look as if they’ve stepped out of 1981. Hell, I’ve seen PS2 games that looked better than this pile of trash. Sure, there are a couple of levels that can pass off as bearable... but other than that you’re in for one ugly experience.
The bottomline – if you haven’t guessed by now – is that Haze is a terrible game. There are times (that by the way you can count on your fingertips) when the game’s fun to play, but just as you start to think "hey this game’s not all that bad", it slaps you in the face with all its shortcomings. If only Free Radical had gone the Saber Interactive way and spent more time polishing the game, we could have perhaps had a mindless yet enjoyable shooter a la Timeshift, but as of now Haze is something that shouldn’t be touched with a ten-foot pole. In fact it should be taken out and shot between the eyes.
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