Previews// Haze

Posted 3 Apr 2008 13:00 by
Games: Haze
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.

Now, Haze 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.
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Games: Haze

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PreciousRoi 3 Apr 2008 13:57
So is this going to be a solid exclusive?

Or is a PC version, or perhaps more significantly a 360 version waiting in the wings, or pending further developments?

Because this looks good., good enough to count for something if it can be ranked as a PS3 exclusive, or even "console exclusive".

Hell someone might even want to do a mod of these guys, heh...
Hark 3 Apr 2008 15:48
Its an exclusive....... for the time being.

I spose ubi will see how well it sells on the PS3 first. It should do well, PS3 owners are crying out for a decent exclusive title.

PS3's first true triple A game in my opinion.

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PreciousRoi 3 Apr 2008 16:19
You may be right, the better it is, the more I'm going to want it on 360, and my nose is telling me its going to be good...we shall would think that ubi would want to leverage their investment, but if this were to remain a PS3 exclusive I would not be shocked, nor would it surprise me if the PC were favored over the 360.
anon 6 Apr 2008 04:28
sorry guys, looks like it's exclusive. a free radical rep came out and said they dropped the other platforms (free radical love playstation hardware) so they could optimise Haze for the ps3. hdd-caching, blu-ray streaming etc. shame the 360 doesnt have a standard hdd amirite
fishsticks 7 Apr 2008 11:56
This was in multi-format development for far too long for it to remain a PS3 exclusive for long. Unless Sony through a metric boat-load of money at FRD/Ubisoft to keep it PS3 only. I've not seen anything in Haze's trailers which suggest that it couldn't run on a PC or X360. Blu-ray streaming is more of a hinderance than a benefit anyways as PS3s only have a 2x speed blu-ray drive (which is why it's quiet), compared to a noisy 12x DVD-ROM in the X360
tyrion 7 Apr 2008 19:42
fishsticks wrote:
Blu-ray streaming is more of a hinderance than a benefit anyways as PS3s only have a 2x speed blu-ray drive (which is why it's quiet), compared to a noisy 12x DVD-ROM in the X360

Just for clarity here, that's not as huge a difference in speeds as it first looks, in fact the 12xDVD drive is only 1.76 ish times faster than the 2xBlu-ray drive.

Blu-ray: 1x - 36 Mbit/s, 2x - 72 Mbit/s
DVD: 1x - 10.55 Mbit/s, 12x - 126.6 Mbit/s

Obviously those are transfer rates and they depend on data density as well as the drives' spin speeds. Higher data density in the Blu-ray system should lead to lower spin speeds for similar data transfer rates, which is why the PS3's drive is quieter than the 360's DVD drive.

Interestingly, the theoretical upper limit for spin speeds of optical discs is 10,000rpm due to too much wobble for the discs to be read properly. This is 52xCD, 20xDVD and 12xBlu-ray speeds.

None of that has much to do with Haze, but once I started reading I couldn't stop passing it on to you lot! :-)
Spinface 9 Apr 2008 14:43
Official line is it's PS3 exclusive. A Ubisoft rep told me it's exclusive "for now".

I'd tend to agree that it was in production for PC and 360 too long to remain exclusive forever - even if it takes a year for a port to come out.

The only big new third party IP that's been anything like platform exclusive (this generation) that I can bring to mind right now is BioShock - and that was only console-exclusive. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to launch a new IP for a single platform. Unless, like fishsticks said, loads of money has been thrown at Ubi and FRD by Sony...
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