GC '07: Haze Hands-On

[UPDATE] We play through a three-level demo of Free Radical Design's upcoming first-person shooter. Spoiler warning.

LEIPZIG, Germany--Earlier today, during a visit to Ubisoft's booth at the 2007 Games Convention in Leipzig, we had an opportunity to get our hands on a playable version of Haze for the first time. The demo at the show features three partial levels from the single-player/cooperative campaign and offers a surprisingly varied experience. The first level we played through saw us assuming the role of a Mantel trooper battling Promised Hand rebels in a jungle, the second was largely vehicle-based and set in a quarry, and the last--here comes the spoiler--pitted us against Mantel troopers in the role of a rebel.

There were single-player demo stations and also a group of four set up for cooperative play at the Ubisoft booth today, so, after watching a team of four players complete the demo, we opted to play solo so that we could see how effective our CPU-controlled comrades were.

Playing as a Mantel trooper for the first time, it was easy to see how you could become dependent on the "Nectar" drug that they use to augment their abilities. Enemies are easier to see, targeting becomes semiautomatic, you're able to move more quickly, and the only possible adverse side effects--which may or may not bother you--are that your vision becomes blurred, and as friends and enemies become indistinguishable, you'll literally lose control and have to watch helplessly as you shoot at anything at moves. Another odd but very much intentional side effect of Nectar is that it prevents you from seeing dead bodies--which, as we'll explain shortly, isn't necessarily a good thing in multiplayer games.

As we scoured the relatively small Jungle level, our comrades did a good job of following us when we were headed in the right direction, and also of hanging back or moving away from us when they wanted us to go elsewhere. They also did their fair share of killing, but not to the point that we ever felt inferior or unnecessary in any way. The most memorable set piece in the level saw us standing atop a cliff and watching Mantel's military aircraft drop bombs into another jungle area in an attempt to flush out the remaining rebels. They succeeded, and so by the time we had made our way down the cliff path, there were plenty of enemies waiting for us there.

The second level was set in and around a large quarry, and tasked us with driving a four-man all-terrain vehicle to the end of a long road in pursuit of a rebel boss named Skin Coat. He likes to skin his enemies and make coats from them, apparently, but it's highly unlikely that we were after the guy because of his questionable wardrobe. The Mantel vehicle was easy to drive and, in the cooperative session that we watched, it was well defended courtesy of two players riding shotgun and a third manning a gun turret. Unfortunately, our comrades in the single-player game weren't nearly as effective, and, before reaching the end of the level, we'd lost both of the guys riding shotgun. The body of the guy on the turret was hanging limply from the roof of the vehicle.

Our comrades weren't killed by the rebels chasing us in their own off-road vehicles. Rather, it was the large number of mines lining the quarry road that, in our rush to beat the level, we had failed to avoid. The mines aren't always easy to spot when you're racing along a bumpy road with enemies chasing you, of course. But, in another great advertisement for Nectar, taking the drug gives you something of a sixth sense and lets you see the explosions before they happen, albeit as a series of ripples through the air. Clouds of dust kicked up by all of the vehicles really added to the great look of the quarry level, though our sense of immersion was lost at one point when, after rolling our vehicle and being prompted to right it with a melee attack, we watched it roll around and defy the laws of physics as it desperately tried to land on its wheels while being hampered by the proximity of a wall.

Without wishing to give too much away about the game's plot (we're deliberately not revealing as much as we were told; you'll thank us later), there are levels in which you'll play as one of the Promised Hand rebels rather than as a Mantel trooper. The third and final level in the Games Convention demo was set in and around a run-down building that, judging by its appearance, may well have been a low-cost apartment complex at some point in its history. Accompanied by three other rebels, we were attacked by Mantel troopers at almost every turn, and we were thrilled to find that the rebels' lack of high-tech equipment is more than compensated for by some of the tricks that they have up their sleeves.

The most obvious rebel ability to mention, partly because it's performed using the same button that Mantel players use to administer Nectar, is playing dead. Mantel troopers aren't able to see dead bodies, so if your health gets low enough that all seems lost, playing dead will effectively make you invisible to nearby enemies while you wait for them to pass by. Another very neat trick is coating a grenade with Nectar from the tank of a fallen Mantel trooper so that it explodes in a cloud of the drug when you throw it. Any enemies caught in the cloud overdose almost immediately, causing them to become disoriented and, on some occasions, to start firing on other troopers. When coating your grenades with Nectar, you'll also automatically take the opportunity to do the same thing with your throwing knives, which can then be used to disorient enemies one at a time.

All of the aforementioned abilities will be available in competitive multiplayer modes that pit Mantel players against Promised Hand players. Ubisoft and Free Radical Design haven't said too much else about Haze's multiplayer content at this point, and after today's showing, we're more eager than ever to check it out. We'll bring you more information on Haze as soon as it becomes available.

[UPDATE] After playing through the Games Convention demo of Haze yesterday, today we met with Free Radical Design's David Doak and managed to get a little more info on the game. For starters, we've learned that Nectar is an even more potent drug than we realized. It doesn't just block out dead bodies from Mantel troopers' vision, it tricks the troopers into thinking that every battle they fight takes place on a sunny day in paradise. Promised Hand rebels on the same battlefield will see things as they really are, and could well be trudging through mud on a rainy day, or fighting in a village that's been all but destroyed in previous battles--none of which will be apparent to the troopers. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this difference in perceptions is that it will carry over to Haze's competitive multiplayer modes of play, so you'll get a very different experience depending on which faction you're playing as.

We also now know that the rebels have even more tricks at their disposal than we previously thought. Specifically, they'll be able to bury grenades that they've previously attached to Nectar administrators in order to booby-trap areas that Mantel troopers are likely to pass through. Rebels can also perform forward rolls to move around quickly while staying low and, as we've mentioned in previous coverage, they can steal weapons from Mantel troopers who have been stunned with a well-placed melee attack. In short, we're confident that rebels are going to be at least as much fun to play as the Mantel troopers, and we can't wait to check out the game's 24-player online play. Two-player split-screen support will also be included, by the way.

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238 comments
bobble_head17
bobble_head17

yes it does look fantastic!! theres one thing i dont understand though. why it everyone comparing it to halo. personally i think it looks nothing like halo. In halo you dnt give your self drugs

skee_uk
skee_uk

looks fantastic, download the 1080p gameplay interview off psn it looks absolutly superb, i cant wait for this. plus its been confirmed now its only ever coming on ps3

AranJatt
AranJatt

damn, i have to save up even more pocket money after GTA4!!!

wars45
wars45

at last i want this game roll onmay

Cleaver426
Cleaver426

Oh Man I,m in NZ And I gotta wait till June 11!!!

wittinator
wittinator

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of HAZE. Looks incredible.

pause422
pause422

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surdanis
surdanis

wow, i can't wait for all the crazy senators to try and ban this game. drugs? i get to play a corporate soldier hopped up on drugs? hell yeah! sign me up!

JDaleMoney
JDaleMoney

4 player co op any 1? I luv 4 PLAYER CO OP

bb963
bb963

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Solid_Devil
Solid_Devil

I'm really looking forward to this game. It looks to be a good game.

ctburesch
ctburesch

rellthegreatone. Please stop with your Halo 3 crap. I own both a 360 and a PS3 and I own Halo 3 and personally it bores the hell out of me. BORING!!! At least this game looks interesting.

LPH79
LPH79

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thekodaman
thekodaman

I want moar drugs...... MOAR I TELLS YA!!!!

Kongousou_ha
Kongousou_ha

This game looks pretty sick to me. I don't much care for the "my console is better than yours, and my exclusives are better than yours" arguments though. I think that this game looks solid based on what I've read so far. If you don't like PS3, then you don't have to buy one or the games for that system. It's that simple. If that's the case though, don't feel like your entitled to slap your fanaticism for whichever system you own all over games for systems you DON'T own. Just don't say anything and move on with your life. I don't have an Xbox 360 but I'm sure it's a fine piece of machinery from what I've heard. I don't go around saying the Wii and PS3 are better than Xbox 360 everywhere I go or comment. I just enjoy the games I can own for the systems I have. PLEASE, just do the same. As for Haze, I'm definitely looking forward to it, especially since I was a fan of the Timesplitter series. The nectar mechanic looks great and the plot change in the middle gives you the best of both worlds (rebel tactics). Can't wait to play...

SMS203914
SMS203914

i have a ps3 and i think this game is going to be all hyped up like all the other ps3 games and suck.everybody should check out killzone 2 straight ps3 exclusive looks great trust me chek that game..08 is going to a great gaming year

Hellshots
Hellshots

The only reason why people think Haze well suck is because it is a exclusive.

Heixn-IxI
Heixn-IxI

-rellthegreatone- ''looks like a good game halo 3 is still better'' You're kidding right? How do you know if it's worse than Halo 3? Halo 3 is a good game, but we have no idea how good this PS3 exclusive will be. So shut your fan boy instinct and learn to not support the Halo 3 stereotype.

tlow0678
tlow0678

This exclusive has a lot of potential. If it does what Uncharted did and becomes AMAZING then hallelujah the ps3 just might become signifigant in the console race. If it pulls a Kane &Lynch or Assassins Creed and turns out to flop, then, well, the ps3 will have another reason to suck

penguinofire
penguinofire

Meh! 360 Exclusive, PS3 Exclusive. Whatever. If it's good enough I'll just go buy a PS3. It's not like you have to buy one console and stick with it religiously... I mean, unless your parents buy your consoles, or something.

athenian29
athenian29

Kevinconkin: haha im just so glad this got cancelled for x360 and pc. thank god that the ps3 may have an AMAZING exclusive where all other platform-fanboys are envious as hell You must be blind. X360 exclusives: Mass Effect, Halo 3, TC Endwar, etc. PC is good too, although I'm not keeping an eye on that one as much. PS3 is not pulling ahead, it's catching up. I like Sony too, but I'm not some silly fanboy like you are. If you're going to start glorifying one manufacturer, at least do your research before you go running a fan booth at E3 for your favorite company or whatever it is you fanatics like to do.

usmannaseer
usmannaseer

finally Ps3 has got some exclusives comin out, i just got uncharted drake's fortune and cant wait to see how haze turns out. Ps3 should work on more exclusives cause currently x360 is killing ps3 in the exclusives race!

Noventus
Noventus

"haha im just so glad this got cancelled for x360 and pc. thank god that the ps3 may have an AMAZING exclusive where all other platform-fanboys are envious as hell" ... yea KevinConklin, because the 360 and pc are so void of exclusives of their own that they have nothing better to do than to drool over the PS3's only decent multiplayer exclusive that is set to come this year...

FrostCyclone
FrostCyclone

The Review for this on Game.co.uk is calling Haze a Halo Beater. To bad 360.

metalgaiger
metalgaiger

Hmm, looks like it's going to be an expensive holiday season. Crysis, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and Haze. I'm most looking forward to Haze so I REALLY hope it gets good ratings. I'm going to be extremely let down if it's a flop.

KevinConklin
KevinConklin

haha im just so glad this got cancelled for x360 and pc. thank god that the ps3 may have an AMAZING exclusive where all other platform-fanboys are envious as hell

fuzzy_hippo
fuzzy_hippo

please,please,please be a good game. I have been following this game for a few months now and cant tell if it will be good or bad (*cough* timespliters). Regardless 4 player co-op will be sweet.

CapnQwark
CapnQwark

This is going to be a good game... i think. i just wish they would release more previews and stuff. this preview is almost three months old and they have only released two on gamespot.

bshaw84
bshaw84

It's from the makers of timesplitters...it's going to be amazing!

Latinbro1
Latinbro1

I really am curious about how this game will play

Panzer88mm
Panzer88mm

Sounds Impressive. I wonder if they'll release a demo for it on PSN

Magatsu23
Magatsu23

this game looks very promissing.

drkndr3amer
drkndr3amer

mediocre?? timesplitters was mediocre, but wat this game has to offer is far from it. it shoudl be top tier but it isn't getting enough hype. actually read wat this game has to offer. hdr lighting, and resolution will NOT be 640p because of it like halo 3, you see a paradise world when your on nectar, 4 player coop, you can disarm an enemy if ur a rebel, many vehicles for each side, no loading times at all, etc etc. this won't be the best game, but it is far from mediocre. and if a mediocre game like timesplitters can be fun, imagine how addictive this game can be. I loved playing resistance, but this game offers more, so my enjoyment should only be greater. ;) wow, batosaims, your ps2 and FF credentials aren't bad ;P. but i have to disagree with you. this game looks really fun and really purty, and it being on the ps3, you know the sound is gonna be top notch. but this will be another test to playstation's free online multiplayer service. 3 games I know that have great multiplayer on PS3 is resistance, motorstorm and warhawk. I know the 360 has more, and while i'm not even a big multiplayer fan, it's good to know that the ps3 can pull it off if developers make the effort ;)

batosaims
batosaims

and ill pick one up early next year cause the price drop on nov 2nd

batosaims
batosaims

well ill get street fighetr 4 on the 360 because of the xbl rachet and clank i would buy since i loved the first four on the ps2 but im not touching gran turismo thats the most boring game ive ever played on the ps2

usmo_
usmo_

Its nice to see that batosaims\has finally seen the light. You can add these to your list when you buy a ps3: Gran Turismo 5 Street Fighet IV Ratchet and Clank (you know you love it) And another thing, if you want to buy a ps3, buy one now when they are cheap because the 60GB models are an indangered species. And surely you dont have to wait until killzone 2 is out to decide if you want it!!! i mean watch this: http://uk.gamespot.com/video/928377/6177600/killzone-2-video-feature-2 ... and make your mind up; mine is already made : )

batosaims
batosaims

so basically dont think of me as a pure sony hater im just not impressed with the new franchises like heavenly sword and haze uncharted looks good but until i see at least 8 or 9 must have exclusives on the ps3 then i wont be ready to bite the bullet

batosaims
batosaims

TEKKEN 6 I MUST PLAY TEKKEN 6 if tekken 6 doesnt get ported and kz2 gets good reviews unlike the first one then ill have to pick up a ps3

batosaims
batosaims

dont get me wrong though im not completly against sony killzone 2 looks great and even though mgs and final fantasy arent my favorite games because ive beaten mgs 1 2 3 and ff 3 on the snes 7 8 9 10 and 12 i might have a sudden urge to beat mgs4 and ff13 and ive also beaten kingdom hearts 1 and 2 so i might have the urge to beat kh3 god of war was an outstanding game at least on par with ninja gaiden and since ive beaten the first two i have got to beat the third one and finally u guys have the greatest fighting series of all time next to street fighter

batosaims
batosaims

j factor every game on that list for the ps3 is either multiplatform or crap seriously the first two getaways sucked why would i play the third one if they cant get it right the first two times dc universe wow thats just sad eight days looks good but again thats just looks and the rest are just b rated titles sonys only decent games for 2008 mgs4 maybe killzone 2 and to some people ff13

batosaims
batosaims

usmo_ if i can afford a 360 and a wii i can surely afford a ps3 especially with the price drop second of all haze is going to be a mediocre shooter just like the time splitter series it has nothing special id rather play crysis on the pc then haze killzone 2 looks good graphically but again thats just graphically

usmo_
usmo_

@batosaims: Reasons you buy an xbox360 over a ps3: 1. You cant afford a ps3 2. You cant afford a ps3 3. Your an idiot. Now thats out of the way, Haze will be amazing no doubt. Perhaps not as mind-blowing as Killzone 2 judging by early gameplay footage, but it will be well worth your money as far as sheer entertainment goes. Judging by the recent news of the 179% sales increases of ps3s, i can tell this game is gona sell huge, and the online multiplayer will be very addictive. Hope to see you guys on there...

The__J__Factor
The__J__Factor

omg batosaims could u be any more of a blind idiot there are **** load of awesome games coming out on PS3. Its either your a complete tool and are actually fighting for Halo 3 coz u have some sorta inter-appliance relations ship with your sex box360 or everything uve just posted is some sorta joke and im just no getting the funny part? Anyway cant be **** highlighting the next upcoming games that im waiting for so instead ill just the entire ps3 line up. have a read there are alot of good games coming. http://au.ps3.ign.com/index/release.html

dragonseer439
dragonseer439

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