Ubisoft has been teasing us about Haze
for a while now. Far too long, if you ask me. All the way back on May 10th, 2006, back when the PS3 was just a twinkle in Kaz Hirai's eye (that had been under development for quite some time) an announcement told us, “Haze
is scheduled for an early 2007 release for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and will also be available on Windows PC DVD-ROM.” The Xbox 360 and PC versions have dropped from sight and it's early 2008 and the game still ain't sat on retailers shelves.
Given all that waiting, I was rather pleased to get the opportunity to finally get my twitchy paws on the game for a preview. From the damp comfort of the SPOnG Underwater Castle and the less damp and more resplendent comfort of the PlayStation 3 rooms down in London I got to play through some of the single player levels of the game, both on my lonesome and in co-op mode.
In defiance of the chronology of these events, I'm going to tell you about the single player mode first.
Someone once possibly said, “football, it's a game of two halves.” It is, indubitably true. Just as it's true of the Beautiful Game, it's also true of Haze
. Or, as Free Radical likes to tell us, it's two games in one.
You've got play as Mantel Troopers, private soldiers doing the work of the Mantel Corporation in all their neon glory, then you've got play as the rebels they're fighting in a South American backwater country, The Promised Hand.
It's as a Mantel Soldier that you begin Haze
, under the name of Shane Carpenter (formerly Jake Carpenter, wonderful how things change through the development process, isn't it?). Things kick off on the Mantel landcarrier, Mantel's moving combat platform, with plenty of chaps wandering around in their European clubwear (Mantel would probably tell you it's tactical gear, but just take a look at some of the artwork – you know what I'm talking about) shouting macho things and chest-fiving. There's a spot of set-up, then a plane goes down into the jungle in the distance. That would be your cue to go shoot some folk.
You touch down in the jungle and off you trot, gun in hand, to do the nasty to some insurgents.
If you've seen anything of Haze
before now, you'll know that the defining feature of playing as a Mantel Trooper is Nectar. Nectar is, in essence, a performance enhancing drug (and key element of the plot). It has numerous features – the most immediate being that your enemies glow in a somewhat sinister fashion.
is not, by a longshot, a dingy corridor shooter. You're first introduced to Nectar in the jungle, a place illuminated with pretty dappled light. That might lead you to think 'big deal' about the increased visibility of your enemies. Except... it's a darn useful feature. The cover offered by the jungle is plentiful, and The Promised Hand are in and out of the stuff like rats nipping between the bins of the local Indian and Ken's Tuckin Fried Chicken. Without Nectar coursing through your veins, you're going to struggle to spot 'em.
The next most obvious feature is that you get a noticeable spring to your step when you're on the stuff. As there's no sprint button and your enemies aren't slow to take a pop at you, it's a welcome feature.