Haze Impressions

We check out both solo and multiplayer demos of Free Radical Design's upcoming futuristic shooter.

Earlier this month, while attending Ubisoft's inaugural "Ubidays" event in San Francisco, we had an opportunity to check out a playable version of Haze for the first time. Currently in development at UK-based Free Radical Design, Haze is a first-person shooter set over the course of three days in the year 2048, by which time most of the world's governments have outsourced their military operations to major corporations. A group of rebels calling itself "The Promise Hand" is causing trouble somewhere in South America. As a sergeant employed by Mantel Global Industries, your mission--as far as we can tell--is to locate and eliminate the rebels. We weren't allowed to take the controls ourselves on this occasion, but there were plenty of Free Radicals on hand to talk us through both solo and multiplayer demonstrations.

Click to enlarge!

The first stage of the demo took place in a lush jungle environment where camouflaged enemies were almost impossible to pick out amongst the foliage. Fortunately, because you're working for MGI, you're outfitted with all of the company's very best high-tech weapons, gadgets, vehicles, and biomedical support. That last of these comes in the form of a performance-enhancing substance known as Nectar that can be administered to your body with the push of a button. Nectar not only makes you faster and more resistant to damage, but it also adds a number of special abilities to your arsenal. Perception makes enemies easier to spot by highlighting them in orange; focus offers a little aiming assistance to make it easier to kill enemies with headshots; foresight warns you of imminent dangers via a series of visible ripples on the screen that emanate from the enemy or projectile that's threatening you; and melee blast is a powerful melee attack. Like most substances that can't be purchased over the counter, Nectar comes with its fair share of side effects. The Free Radicals showing Haze to us hinted on more than one occasion that those side effects will feature quite prominently in the storyline. Details of Haze's story are, of course, being kept under wraps, but we're told that it'll have a quite sinister edge to it and that one of the subjects you'll be encouraged to think about as you play is the way that other games portray war. We've got one or two theories of our own on how Free Radical Design will achieve that goal, and after hearing about the content of the demos that we saw, you probably will too.

As you play through the three days during in which Haze is set, you'll move seamlessly--that meansno load screens--among a dozen different environments. These environments are known to include a jungle, a quarry, an observatory, a holiday resort, and a disused container ship. The first part of our demo took place in the jungle, which was the perfect locale to show off the aforementioned perception ability. As the Nectar was administered, we noticed that at least two components of the heads-up display superimposed on the screen-filling helmet visor are devoted to the substance. One indicator shows how many doses you have left, while another indictor shows the level of Nectar in your bloodstream. Other elements on the HUD included a health bar and a compass. The level of Nectar in your bloodstream is important because if you use too much, you'll overdose, which causes the screen to blur and enemies or allies to become indistinguishable. You'll also lose control of your trigger, which will automatically open fire on anyone who comes into view. Regardless of whether or not they're being controlled by the CPU or by up to three other players in a co-op game, your squadmates will be vulnerable to the harmful effects of Nectar in the same way as you, and we're told that as you progress through the game, you'll inevitably end up getting addicted.

Our second demo took place in the quarry locale and saw four Free Radicals teaming up in a co-op game. The choke points where gunfights took place were quite far apart, and to travel between them, the squad was using a black "Marine Buggy" that was somewhat reminiscent of the Warthog vehicle in the Halo series. In addition to the driver, the Marine Buggy had room for a soldier to ride shotgun on each side of the driver, as well as someone manning a rear-mounted turret. The driving sequences saw the squad coming under heavy fire, so the Free Radical that we sat with made a point of administering Nectar at one point and putting the foresight ability to good use. Every missile that hit the road was preempted by the aforementioned ripple effect emanating from what would become its point of impact, making it much easier to steer clear of them because there was very little warning otherwise. Proximity mines that lined certain portions of the dirt road gave off the same warning ripples when the demo player was using Nectar, and we suspect that the level would be almost impossible to complete without the drug. Even with the Nectar, we had plenty of opportunities to see the Marine Buggy taking damage, and by the end of the demo, it was a smoking, dented mess.

The third and final level that we were afforded a brief glimpse of during our demo was taken from later in the game. It tasked the MGI squad with locating and eliminating a rebel chief in an industrial setting. The whole environment's appearance was almost devoid of color, and perhaps as a result of excessive Nectar use in previous locales, the action had a much grittier feel to it. This was largely down to the enemies, who screamed and writhed around on the ground in agony after being shot, which was in stark contrast to the quiet deaths that we'd seen earlier. Perhaps it's only toward the end of the game that you'll get to see the combat in Haze for what it really is because you won't be in a "haze" anymore.

Click to enlarge!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about our Haze demo, given the game's futuristic setting and the fact that you're supposed to be equipped with the very best that MGI has to offer, was the distinct lack of a shiny, future arsenal. We asked a couple of the Free Radicals about it and were told that Haze won't feature a huge arsenal of different weapons, but you'll learn to use weapons differently as you progress. We're also told that you'll be limited to carrying just two firearms and two types of grenade at any time. When asking about some of the specifics pertaining to Nectar, we also learned that the Nectar in your body will replenish slightly every time you kill an enemy, making it possible to prolong the drug's positive effects by going on a killing spree. We look forward to bringing you more information on Haze as soon as it becomes available.

Written By

Want the latest news about Haze?

Haze

Haze

Discussion

191 comments
assasinspray
assasinspray

well i guess its just another masterpiece by ubisoft. Rock On !!!!!!

DeadlyDisciple
DeadlyDisciple

This might not be as good as hoped! I played it a the Wembley Stadium, London, UK game event: 'Play.com Live and it felt as if something was missing that stopped it from being a legendary game...BUT Its likely I'll get it anyway!

JDaleMoney
JDaleMoney

If it has 4 player co-op split screen so i can play with my brother and uncle cooperatively i am sold i'm buying it as soon as it comes out.

Phortex
Phortex

Themix... Alot of games had 2 weapons carry only before, and the helmet is quite original, halo wasent first,,,

archer7527
archer7527

haze looks awesome...hope it comes to the 360!

samdonni
samdonni

Im looking forward to this! :-)

dn3datomiced
dn3datomiced

Another boring copycat? What?! RTFA, AngelB1ack. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

naruto945
naruto945

Cant wait to get this although i would like my guns just to be a little futuristic or at least well made

AngelB1ack
AngelB1ack

Looks like another boring copycat.

thaculture
thaculture

Why was the controller blurred out in the developer interview video?

s0njas0n
s0njas0n

dang, another multiplayer where i will get pwned.

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

I saw the developer interviews, this game looks amazing!

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

I'm so stoked for this game. If I had a PS3, Haze would be one of my highest priorities.

termadoyle
termadoyle

looks good. if it retains the great quality of the Timesplitters games we've got an entertaining game on our hands.

skelhon
skelhon

blkgto, good point - halo is good, but if you want to argue about which is better go onto the forums this game looks sexy as hell - that explosion in on of the sceenshots - ownage!! i dont see why gamespot are complaining about "the lack of shiny future technology" - this game is in 2048, not 2148. and as for nectar....oh....yeah

ccooke
ccooke

Haze will pwn Halo. Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and all other legendary FPS 's currently out there.

mnmnanu
mnmnanu

Haze FTW... Goodbye haho...i mean halo

themix_92
themix_92

can only hold 2 weapons, grenades, melee, a jeep with a passenger a driver and a turret. thats very original, I've never seen that in any other game before *choughHalocough* come on they even copied the new halo 3 helmet just go look at some screenshots of halo 3 and you'll see

gameboy360
gameboy360

bloodyrooster ur the man..i couldnt have aggreed with nething u said in the whole paragraph more

Albanian_Killa
Albanian_Killa

I can't wait...This game is going to be sick. I'm glad it's coming out for the PlayStation 3 first. I wonder if it'll look better or worse on the XBOX 360 and the PC. Anyway, I hope the Online is good.

bloodyrooster
bloodyrooster

The original Halo was a shake off of Goldeneye with vaster landscapes. The creators of Haze are the creators of Goldeneye, and Timesplitters. Most of my friends sat on Timesplitters over Halo 2 for days. It was a great game, but less known. But yeah I don't like the PS3, but Haze looks like the title that will give Halo 3 a run for its money a lot more than people realize. And with the PS3 barely cranking any hits, it'll be easy for Haze to become the next big game and bring Free Radical back in the top shooter charts of all time.

ShadowfaxSTF
ShadowfaxSTF

This game reminds me... just ever so slightly... of Far Cry Instincts with those Nectar abilities. Everything else is different of course.

arczero01
arczero01

Sounds interesting but I don't think it sounds like someones trying to remake it.

Teroza49
Teroza49

really stupid that every game gets compared to halo. Why can't there be good games apart from halo ? I think Haze looks amazing, the graphics are stunning.

NeverEndingXx
NeverEndingXx

Looks extremely stupid... You can't remake Halo, so don't try...

705H1R0
705H1R0

This game sounds great. I'm really looking forward to 4-player co-op, it should be a blast. Hopefully they'll make it a really seemless drop-in/drop-out system. I can't stand that in other online co-op games if one player leaves it ends the game for the host. Also I really hope it has at least 2 player local co-op.

blkgto
blkgto

Go talk about halo on the halo forums.

DesmondPills
DesmondPills

lol everyone get over it. you cant even read an article on here without having the majority of people knit pick something someone casually said in the article itself. get a life, and complain about something important. 3/4's of the comments are about how Halo is overrated?!!? figure that one out. when the topic is about Haze.

godhatch
godhatch

sorry but if gamespot are reffering the jeep in the screenshots to looking like the warthog from halo then they are wrong. it looks nothing like the warthog, if anything it looks like the jeep from bf2 special forces

kevy619
kevy619

halo is awesome and accessible, a combination that leads to huge sales. just look at nintendo games.

Naggeh
Naggeh

this game looks really awsome, i'd just like to know a little more about the side effects of that nectar stuff

riseofnations36
riseofnations36

Halo is well...a decent but overrated game . While this game may beat it out in quality , Halo will always have a larger amount of buyers .

Beawolf
Beawolf

It does not sound like Halo at ALL. It's focusing it's game play around "nectar". Where as Halo fallows it's gameplay around guns, and an energy shield. However this games looks like it would be fun, if only there is some online competitive play on it (allowing you to use the haze affect) would be awesome.

nizzy17
nizzy17

Actually it was confirmed to be multi-plat, the ps3 version will be first out though. It'll be good to compare a game that wasn't ported from the 360.

EarthThatWas
EarthThatWas

Bright yellow armor, huh? I guess that might work in jungle. Look out! That banana has an assault rifle!

ryanray2
ryanray2

Looks good, co-op makes a crap game good and good game great, I will be getting nearly all of the PS3 games as they come out cos of my job, its bringing in good money, so this will difintetly be im my collection of PS3 games, looking forward to it !!

grassgreener12
grassgreener12

wow this game looks interesting....shame there wont be a huge assortment of futuristic weapons...but the nectar stuff looks cool

Nstl
Nstl

This game will be super:-)))

Pleya
Pleya

Why this game is in 360 session since its an Ps3 Exclusive for now...??? Wierd.

km1498
km1498

I keep telling myself "I am not going to pick up another shooter for the 360", but this one is intriguing.

Mohamed_h
Mohamed_h

interesting stuff , looking for more !

kingpimp101
kingpimp101

Lol Teyon, not Gears... Halo. Although I'm not a fan of FPS this game has some appeal to me. Looking foward to hearing more.