A thought-provoking FPS
- Intense gameplay, gripping campaign, distinct multiplayer factions
- Lacklustre graphics, limited multiplayer modes
The graphics and multiplayer modes are a let-down, especially considering Haze's excellent narrative. There is enough to the game to provide some entertainment, but it won't keep you coming back time after time.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
During the eighties, former First Lady Nancy Reagan pleaded with youngsters to "just say no" to drugs. Twenty years later, Haze flies in the face of Mrs. Reagan's pleas to stay clean with drug-addled gameplay that delivers some genuine thrills. But you needn't grow concerned because this game is far from addictive.
Haze chronicles the Mantel Corporation's efforts to quash a rebel uprising in the Boa region of South America. Mantel's government-sanctioned military force aims to disband a guerrilla faction known as the Promised Hand by juicing up soldiers with Nectar, a super-charged serum capable of enhancing sight, aim, speed, and strength. More importantly, though, Nectar influences the user's perception of violence and strips away the moral dilemma that usually accompanies such actions.
It's in the opening hours of Mantel's invasion that you step into boots of Sergeant Shane Carpenter, who suddenly discovers that amping up with Nectar isn't so sweet. Snappy dialogue and cleverly conceived scenarios tell of Carpenter's transformation from hopped up Mantel fighter to sober guerrilla warrior and unquestionably, Haze deserves recognition for having one of the best written and thought-provoking narratives of any first-person shooter. The intensity of the story — not to mention the never-ending action — keeps you hooked throughout the course of the 15-mission campaign, and once you're done with that, there's also a cooperative mode for you and up to three buddies that certainly keeps things interesting.
On the merits of its gameplay alone, Haze excels with fine-tuned action that balances two dramatically different factions. Imbibing a little Nectar as a Mantel soldier bestows a range of special abilities including ultra-powerful melee blasts capable of sending enemies hurtling through the air and heightened perception that causes Promised Hand rebels to glow an easily identifiable yellow in your sights. The seemingly dope powers of a Mantel soldier are countered by an array of guerrilla tactics available only to Promised Hand rebels. Playing dead, for instance, enables you to disappear temporarily from the view of Mantel operatives. The ability to disarm enemies, execute evasive rolls, and even equip special Nectar grenades that cause hallucinogenic overdoses give Promised Hand warriors a fighting chance. The best part is that both factions offer wildly different, yet equally enjoyable styles of play, something other shooters can't always promise.
This also makes for multiplayer matches, even if the experience fails to fully live up to its potential. Multiplayer relies heavily on the distinctions between the two sides to keep you entertained, but there's a dearth of available modes and maps. Only three game types are offered: deathmatch, team deathmatch, and the objective-based team assault. The six included maps pack in just enough variety, but a few additional modes would have done much to spice things up.
Also lacking is the game's graphics, which are a huge let-down. Despite its tight story and well-balanced action, the killer buzz Haze cultivates all but dies when it comes to the visuals thanks to janky animations, blurry textures and downright pitiful special effects — it really is fitting that the game is called Haze. Still, Haze offers up enough action and an intriguing enough story to keep you playing, even if it doesn't have the addictive staying power of other shooters like Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4.
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