What if war were more like a video game? What if a video game was more like war? This is a fundamental question that drives Ubisoft's new PS3 shooter, Haze. We had a chance to put this exciting new shooter through its paces at the PlayStation Holiday Preview Event, and came away quite impressed with its unique mechanics and storyline.
Haze's hook involves the use of an enhancement drug known as nectar. By administering nectar, you are able to upgrade your attributes. By holding down the L2 button, you decide how big a dosage of nectar you get. The more nectar you apply, the farther you'll throw grenades, the faster you'll run, the steadier your aim will be, and the more visible your enemies will be. However, if you apply too much, you'll go into a "nectar rage", which means you lose a good amount of control over your character. You can still control where you're walking, but both enemies and allies will appear as silhouettes, and you'll have no control over your trigger finer. This threshold adds a unique layer of depth by making you decide how close to the limit you want to push your character.
Of course, you don't have unlimited reserves of Nectar. You increase your nectar reserves by killing enemies while on a nectar rush. Alternately, you can leech into the nectar tanks of your compatriots and grab some for yourself.
In the game, you'll be playing as Shane Carpenter, foot soldier for the Mantel Corp. The Mantel Corp. sure knows how to make efficient soldiers; they simply make war more like a video game. The visor that you wear through the game censors dead bodies from view, which adds another neat game mechanic. Later in the game, Carpenter switches sides to the rebel force known as the Promised Hand. Since you're up against these people who can't see dead bodies, you can play dead and be invisible to their eyes. This then allows you to set up tactics and ambushes against your enemies.
While they weren't present in the demo, Free Radical is promising lots of vehicular combat in the game. The weapons that were available in the demo were the standard assault rifle and pistol, but they felt solid and packed a solid punch.
The game will also feature a whole slew of multiplayer modes, including 4 player co-op over the PlayStation Network. The co-op mode is not just missions from the main campaign, but also a slew of missions to compliment the main storyline. Free Radical is the same team that is responsible for the well-received TimeSplitters series, so expect a full suite of competitive multiplayer modes too.
Free Radical has created a brand new engine from the ground up for Haze, and it seems to be taking full advantage of the PS3's capabilities. The demo took place in a jungle setting that featured phenomenal looking foliage, lakes, and lighting. A helicopter crash halfway through the demo also showcased some outstanding particle and smoke effects. The screen also warps and twists depending on the level of nectar you've ingested. The game also featured some solid directional surround sound effects and some booming explosions.
While Haze was originally announced to be released on the PC and Xbox 360, those two versions have been cancelled to make way for Haze: PlayStation 3 exclusive. It seems that Free Radical has created the PS3 exclusive first person shooter that fans have been craving since Resistance: Fall of Man. At this late stage, Haze is looking extremely well polished and plays very well. Get ready to shoot up some nectar on November 27th.