Haze fun but not excellent

Haze, the PS3-exclusive first person shooter from Free Radical looked like it had potential. For years. I kept seeing previews and hearing about the game, and the game never emerged until it had all but been forgotten. Then it came out to glorious reviews!

Not quite. As ps3fanboy has summarized, there aren't many glowing reviews. Now as some of the comments have pointed out, its competitors have received strangely high review scores (especially on the single player campaigns) -- COD4 and Halo3 come to mind of course.

In fact, if I could convince them to do it, I'd ask reviewers to review the single player campaign game-play and the multi-player sections of games separately. Some games have excellent multiplayer with no single player plot to speak of (or have none at all, like Warhawk).

That aside, what I hated about Haze was the dialogue -- there were moments that were well-written and there was dialogue I could tell they'd put some thought into. Then there was the other 85% which sucked, was poorly timed and didn't advance the story at all (cutting room floor, anyone?). The lack of load times was a complete lie of course, they were just covered up by transport vehicle moments with aforementioned terrible dialogue. I'd rather have a loading screen with a good story insert or a movie clip with background loading personally.

The story, quite honestly, was good but could have been fleshed out better. There should be more attachment time to your own character at the beginning and more AI-driven decision making (to turn or not to turn -- to shoot your own men or not -- to kill rebels or not, etc.). I miss games letting me make decisions. But besides decision making being made for you by the plot, the overtones of the game, the issues of deciding good and evil, the ending especially make this game worth playing.

As far as actual game play goes, its a fun shooter. I have one and only one real beef with the mechanics of the game -- I know why the Mantel soldiers can self-heal, but how is it that after becoming a rebel I can still self-heal without my Mantel suit and drugs? Also, why is there no cover and sneaking mechanic in a game designed around the bold stupidity of the Mantel soldiers? I should be able to sneak up behind one, knock him down, steal his gun and leave without his buddies noticing since they can't see his dead body after ward.

What about the resolution of the game? Well my eyes are very sensitive to low resolutions and that's why I never played FPS games on previous console generations (okay, I played Perfect Dark on the N64) but Haze gets around its low resolutions by having almost all the action up close and personal. There are very few environments that require you to deal with enemies in the distance and therefore the inability to distinguish between a bird a flower and a mantel soldier at 200 yards is less relevant.

Since playing a couple other games recently, Free Radical could have implemented something like Denied Ops' destination designator instead of the over-used compass mechanic to make life easier in some vertical areas too since when you're directly above or below your final destination, the compass heading is not very useful if you can't find the right set of stairs to use to get there.

Overall, it was a fun game. I rented it for $10 and beat it in a week. I played online a bit and it was actually kinda fun, but nothing elaborately exciting. The layouts are not outstanding nor is the use of weapons crates at spawn points. Play it for the single player campaign then go back to your favourite online shooter for multi player.

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