Haze Hands-On

Free Radical's upcoming shooter has PlayStation 3 fans foaming at the mouth, and we had a behind-the-scenes look at the single-player and multiplayer co-op campaign.

In the world of UK game development, Free Radical is probably one of the more closely scrutinised studios around. Both with and after Rare, the team has created a string of first-person shooters such as GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, and TimeSplitters. With Haze, the studio hopes to take this experience and marry it with a brand-new politically charged storyline. We recently had the chance to play a number of stages from the upcoming PS3-exclusive shooter in both single-player and four-player cooperative modes. From what we experienced, Haze blends a pretty unique storyline with some solid, enjoyable gameplay in the campaign. A highlight of Free Radical's works to date has always been engaging and compelling multiplayer, and Haze will support up to 24-player online play--the only problem is that the multiplayer content is still under embargo. Until then, let us present to you the campaign side of the game.

For those who are a bit sketchy on the game's premise, here's a quick recap. Haze is set in the near future, where nations have been outsourcing their military forces to corporations such as Mantel Industries (think RoboCop). Mantel, engaged in a war with rebels in an unnamed South American country, has its own private army of troopers that rely on a drug called Nectar to offer heightened senses, reflexes, and strength.

Jump on your trusty quad bike to traverse some of the rugged South American terrain.

In addition to its benefits, Nectar also has a downside. The drug is highly addictive and, playing as a Mantel soldier, you'll experience some of the nasty side effects when you're not dosed up on the juice. You can also easily overdose if you're not careful. If this happens, your vision will blur and you'll become a gun-wielding maniac shooting at anything that moves, whether it's friend or foe. Rebels can also trigger an overdose with a well-placed melee attack to your back, where the Nectar regulator sits. For more information on the abilities of both troopers and rebels, see our previous coverage.

We played through a number of stages, including the jungle of the Selva region, where you start your journey as a Mantel trooper. Throughout the game, you'll play the game's protagonist, Shane Carpenter, who undergoes a crisis of conscience as he suffers through the nasty effects of Nectar withdrawal symptoms and detox to see what the world looks like without the drug's feel-good effects. After this plot twist, which occurs halfway through the game, you'll switch sides from Mantel trooper to Promised Hand rebel.

In the first rebel level we saw, we answered a distress signal from a container ship not far from the Promised Hand's hideout. While fighting your way through the rusty tub you eventually stumble upon the transmitter of the signal, who provides some clues on the purpose of Mantel's presence in the region. The next stage, Dientes de Vaca, involves a mountain ascent using a rebel pickup truck. Running the gauntlet up the mountain, you encounter a number of trooper barricades, and if your vehicle takes too much damage you need to jump ship and steal a Mantel vehicle. The rebel truck is pretty easy to handle and not overly sensitive, but like other vehicles that we've tried in the game, it can flip if you hit an unstable patch. Bailing out under heavy fire is never a wise plan of action, because there are plenty of intense firefights to keep you occupied on your way to the summit.

Throughout the game you play as a four-man squad, and Haze supports four-player co-op and two-player split-screen. Joining as an additional player is easy, either from the same console or a local network (and should be just as easy via PlayStation Network). Extra players will take the place of a computer-controlled team member and if they drop out, the system will resume control. If you die you'll get back in the game at the next checkpoint, so even if your aim is lousy, you won't be condemned to the sidelines.

Play as a juiced-up trooper or a Promised Hand rebel using Nectar against Mantel's forces.

The final rebel level we saw, Mirador del Aguila, involves infiltrating an observatory that sits atop the mountain. Throughout the rebel missions you'll be given directions from the rebels' leader, "Skin Coat" Merino, and interact with your teammates, so even if you're playing by yourself, it's not a totally solo affair. While some of the dialogue comes across a bit strained and hammy, the general storyline is pretty intriguing, and getting to the bottom of Mantel's end plan seems compelling enough to keep you going to the end.

Haze's graphics still look a bit rough, especially the particle effects spraying out under vehicles. The game's environments appear detailed, although some of the indoor environments are a bit on the bland side. Haze's artificial intelligence was generally pretty good and enemies didn't waste time firing lead at you, although teammates occasionally did weird things and didn't always follow our lead. On occasion the physics were also a problem, and caused vehicles to become stuck in precarious situations which were hard to get out of. We also found that the game's collision detection didn't always work, with AI-controlled soldiers standing inside solid objects at times.

For more information on Haze, check out our previous coverage and stay tuned for more details on the much-anticipated multiplayer mode in the coming weeks.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

151 comments
merp300
merp300

why does absolutely EVERY thread on this website turn into a PS3 vs 360 fanboy war. to quote yahtzee i really can't understand the almost crusader-like fervor that video games attract. its just a games console. also, everybody who says games are art is a geek, video games are just a form of escapism from the hustle of real life. also, waffleman60, you contradicted yourself in your post. i'll leave it up to you to find out where

gamzrsweet
gamzrsweet

1 word for this ......FAILED........ good thing it was ps3 exclusive....

snakesalad1
snakesalad1

too bad the actual review sucked, makes me wonder why they even bother to preview it.

DaSlyOne
DaSlyOne

Kevdog1976: With a review like that, PS3 fanboys can keep this one for themselves. So, yes, I will say it with you - "PS3 exclusive!!!!" Thank goodness.

playmemike01
playmemike01

i initially started by thinking of this game as nothing special, since then iv read a bit a about it and it sounded extremely unique, however, recently i played the demo on PSN, and was impressed with the gameplay mechanics but i'm just hoping the finished product doesn't look so..grubby. Backgorunds could have easily been PS2 hi-res.

fitch129
fitch129

this game will be good :D

Kevdog1976
Kevdog1976

PS3 exclusive! say it with me, ps3 exclusive. thats just music to my ears! Played the demo, loved it! Paid the game off already and can't wait, hot dam!

Ilija_True_Game
Ilija_True_Game

The demo is obviously early stage developpement. All the screenshots I've seen have better graphics than the demo. Although, the demo was tons of fun. This game will rule.

sobleck
sobleck

is it me or does the gameplay footage look better than the demo?

Born4this
Born4this

why again are people still arguing over 360 and PS3??? 360 is sure as crap not goin anywhere and as soon as MGS4, Haze, Killzone2, and FFXIII get released, PS3 will be here to stay. Not to mention that HDDVD is dead... that will help keep PS3 around. So all sony fanboys who think 360 sux... they've obviously done something right... and all you 360 fanboys (most of you) PS3 took a while to get goin but it looks like they will be here to stay as well... can't we all now just get over it and talk video games rather than argue about opinionated views?

Knightmare_King
Knightmare_King

I'm going to try to be optimistic about this game...but with most hype sometimes it always ends as a downfall no matter what anticipated game or any system. (Except GTA 4 and mass effect, even though both it has a bit of flaws it did live up to the hype in a great way!). This game might look good, from what i'm seeing so far it looks pretty good...let's hope the end result is the same.

ctburesch
ctburesch

purpleiguanez stop being a fanboy. I have all 3 systems and there are great things about each. But for the most part my ps3 is a big dvd player. The Xbox does not suck. that is just Sony fanboy anger over the lack of real games. Oh right you have metal gear solid 4. Please get real.

Borney12
Borney12

I can't say that I expect much from Haze... seems like an interesting concept but already Gamespot is pointing out a number of its flaws. I have Timesplitters 2 and I was totally underwhelmed with it despite the "Halo killer" claims. Hopefully Haze turns out to be a solid game but I doubt it will be anything to sniff at. PS: No, I am NOT a fanboy of the Xbox 360.

purpleiguanaz
purpleiguanaz

looks awesome. And its a ps3 exclusive, proving once again that the xbox sucks.....

Duel_King_X
Duel_King_X

i'm really hoping this comes out on 360 for two reasons, 1. It looks pretty cool and 2. The 360 would steal another "exclusive" from the ps3. HAHA $#@ you Sony Fanboys!

TheThreeSeat
TheThreeSeat

I've been following this game since it was announced and I'm rather frustrated that its only coming out for PS3. It's a shame, I was a fan of the Timesplitters series, and Free Radical seems like some cool kids, maybe they'll end up releasing it on 360 after the fact. I suppose that it makes some business sense to release it on the PS3, work out the bugs, and then release it on the 360. Looks like the best PS3 shooter I've seen in production.

Waffleman60
Waffleman60

First of all what bugs. I mean I read everything about Haze and no one stated bugs. Maybe gamespot is a 360 fanboy or the person who wrote this article is a 360 fanboy because I've seen gameplays with beautiful graphics and no bugs. Plus I'm not even all for graphics. I have a standard t v to play games. My dad wont allow me to play on LCD. Everyone should get this. If you want a real article read the Gameinformer magazine August 2007. They say a lot of cool things and fun. And ok sometimes you may get stuck in a spot and cant move but isnt that in all games?? No one can complain for that. I preserved this game because it is vs. Halo 3. Killzone 2 is not versing Halo 3 its Haze. I think everyone that says this game is a piece of crap now is a 360 fanboy here. Shouldnt you be happy?? Or are you pissed because its cancelled on 360. Someone told me you cant trust what people write on articles and they also told me that screenshots mean nothing. You have to see it in action before judging. Hell, it could turn up the 8th best game of the year. And is everyone falling for just graphics now?? What the hell?? Graphics are like the 6th important thing. Doesnt matter that much. I thought the graphics in Halo 3 sucked but it was so fun to play. I hope this game gets over 8.5 so the game could be laughing at you for not getting it.

white_jaguar
white_jaguar

This looks very interesting, but I will probably wait until I see a rating, or get a head to head comparison. It does look good.

KingBahamut
KingBahamut

I always have been interested by haze but I will need a review before it is on my wish list

lordmt
lordmt

i think i will wait also for the verdict.

Anti-Nerd_Gamer
Anti-Nerd_Gamer

chrismaster i would personally get Haze, cuz if u ask me it looks prty sick, im really lookin forward 2 this xclusive

Kruegmeister
Kruegmeister

I thought there was supposed to be 4 Player Split Screen... Only 2 Player Split Screen... Now This one is a Wait and see for me. With Resistance2 Killzone2 on the Horizon the one thing that had me sold was the 4 Player Co-Op via Split Screen. Please tell me they didn't kill that...

FunCrusher303
FunCrusher303

I'll wait for the final verdict before I check this one out

guerillaKZ2
guerillaKZ2

jsmoke03 posted i had a feeling that haze needs a lot more polish....ps3 got dupped with this fps....thats juss my imo...but look in the 2nd to the last paragraph. yeah i kind of agree with you. i don't think the graphics haze has shown off need a little bit more polish too

guerillaKZ2
guerillaKZ2

jsmoke03 posted i had a feeling that haze needs a lot more polish....ps3 got dupped with this fps....thats juss my imo...but look in the 2nd to the last paragraph. yeah i kind of agree with you. i think the graphics haze has shown off need a little bit more polish too

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

i had a feeling that haze needs a lot more polish....ps3 got dupped with this fps....thats juss my imo...but look in the 2nd to the last paragraph.

jasonbarbour
jasonbarbour

"goddammit why was this canceled on the xbox 360?!?!?" -Its called PS3 exclusive for a reason i might as well ask "why was Halo canceled for PS3," though i have both systems so i dont care.

lowkey254
lowkey254

I'm not sure if the reviewer mentioned this and I'm too lazy to look for it but this was only a beta right? I'm not a big fan of glitches so let's hope that the developers are still ironing out the wrinkles.

JangoWuzHere
JangoWuzHere

bugs and problems? thats another game not to look foward too....

Rine89
Rine89

I'll be looking forward to this game for sure.

stripey1
stripey1

goddammit why was this canceled on the xbox 360?!?!?

lilhg
lilhg

acexx i think u might be rite

Acexx
Acexx

Gamespot = PS3 Hater

Takibi
Takibi

I'm really looking forward to the level of interaction with the environment that this game promises

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

shouls be good, timesplitters 3 was awsome. I hope that they have the arcade mode in it, they probably wont, but virus was cool.

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

dairyboy, i'm not sure what your trying to get at but let me try to help with your ? if your even asking one haha. I mean this in all respects too i'm not making fun or ne thing. I think your tryig to figure out what one to get but i'm srry if i'm wrong. first off you gotta figure of what games you like since these all have their own twist tho killzone and haze have some smiliarities. If your gonna get a rainbow game and dont have 2 yet, just go with rainbow 2, its an upgraded version of one pretty much, and you wont be lost in the story, tho the story is way more fun if you've played one. Killzone 2 looks amazing and with the power they are putting into it i'm sure will be amazing. you also have to think about resitance 2 coming out around when killzone comes out, tho if you havent played one, i would get that first. all in all these are amazing games but if your looking at this game, i would figure you like more run n gun games with a nice little twist that involves human to human conflict. Though you could be like me and just like tons of diff games. If i were you i would go with killzone if your looking into it, tho they are way far apart so you could just get both lol. Run n gun is not rainbow, you have to be more patient. All n all tho, all those games are or look outstanding.

dairyboy3065
dairyboy3065

I wonder this or Rainbow six vegas one, or killzone 2, or ressistance one

killzone_gamer
killzone_gamer

It looks good but minorly bugged. Well, it is Ubisoft people...

jameshaagensen
jameshaagensen

They say... its in 1080i not 1080p mmmm, still 1080 so thats kool looks like a fun game...

NibbleZ_Killa
NibbleZ_Killa

man i was waiting for this game for so long and now i dont really no i still really want it but i dont no i want all this glitches to be gone and want better graficz...................................360 suckz b***z all u no it