A demo of the much anticipated (and long delayed) Haze turned up on the Playstation Network Store last week and managed to utterly under-whelm me. But is it a case of a poor demo or a poor game?
Originally announced by Ubisoft at E3 back in 2006 Haze promised to be an exclusive release for the PS3, whilst Ubisoft’s other big next generation title Assassin’s Creed soon became multi platform Haze has faithfully sided with Sony’s console and has long been touted to be a significant title in the Playstation’s wanting line-up and when you consider that this is a title developed by Free Radical, the team that gave us Timesplitters you kind of feel tempted to believe the hype.
So why don’t I like the Demo? I first fired up Haze with a bunch of friends on LAN and we stormed enthusiastically through the co-op level, pumping ourselves full of “Nectar” and the rebels full of lead… co-op’s always tend to make you play at full pace with everyone racing to the next objective and whilst this turbo charged steam roller of an FPS was fun it didn’t feel as deep or complex as the hype has so far indicated. Graphically the level on offer is attractive, but not beautiful, the jungle setting while detailed is no match for the lush exoticism of Drake’sUncharted island jungles, lack of an in-game mini map often makes orientation tricky and the absence of voice chat on both LAN and Online games doesn’t help matters either, though I’m guessing this will be included in the final product.
After hearing so much about Nectar, the performance enhancing drug that the private military contractor Mantel Troopers use I was eager to find out how it works in practice is it a game defining moment or just a gimmick? Technically it does do what it says on the tin, your aim improves, you can run faster, hit harder and see better. The down side to all of this though is that it does sterilise the game somewhat, and yes I know that’s an integral part of the storyline but somehow taking down a rebel in Nectar mode just doesn’t seem much fun, after-all he looks like a white glowing blob and he goes down like a white glowing blob. Nectar’s side effects were also a bit disappointing, we’ve heard for a long time that excessive use of the performance enhancer, whether by accidental usage or sabotage causes your character to enter an almost psychotic like state and mistake allies for foes… which would be huge fun if the game didn’t take over the controls and do all the loony shooting for you. Ok I can understand that after going through the experience a few times you might get wise to it and hold back on the trigger but it just seems to take so much of the fun away!
Following a few run-throughs of the co-op mission I opted to play again in single player mode and this is where the demo really started to impress a little, there is a promising storyline here and some genuinely chilling moments as you walk through a destroyed rebel camp and your Nectar fails to fully protect you from the horrors of war. Your AI team-mates are the typical gung-ho American Hero types you’ll find in any poorly scripted action film and whiles this can be a tad grating I’m guessing it serves a bigger purpose in the full game, their attitudes alone would be enough to encourage me to join the rebels, which is of course the path you’ll eventually take if you buy this game on May 23(EU) or May 20(North America) One final note concerning the AI is how stupid they are in combat, I’m sure if our troops in Iraq had a massive mortal weak spot on their backs they’d make dam sure they didn’t walk into your line of fire at every given opportunity… or perhaps they do and that’s why things are so messed up over there?
So is this another case of a poor demo? certainly much of the hype around this game has centred on the multiplayer aspects so to release a fairly tame campaign based demo is an odd choice? sadly there is no way of knowing until launch date, though I don’t think I’ll be pre-ordering.
Buy Haze through the TV & Entertainment Store