First Exams
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‘Haze’ Demo Impressions (PS3)

When Ubisoft first announced Haze at E3 2006, I was reasonably interested in what I saw. Lush, jungle environment populated by armor clad soldiers engaging some unknown foe. It didn’t look groundbreaking or earth shattering, but it was enough to keep my interest. Once I learned Free Radical was behind it, I started to get excited. After the delays, the exclusivity battles, and lack luster media that followed, I still remained somewhat interested, although skeptical. After playing the demo release on the Playstation Network earlier, I can’t say that its everything I’d hoped it’d be.

You begin the demo without any BS or nonsense, just dropped straight into the fight. I liked that. Sudden and hectic. I then proceeded to aim my gun at the closest enemy soldier, it didn’t fly off the screen to be blurred by some overused motion filter, it stuck pretty snugly to the guy I was trying to hit. Not too tight, a little loose, I could get used to it.

Then the tutorial started, pausing the action telling me about Nectar, the fuel for these guys’ war. Tapping the R2 button administered a dose dependent on how long it was held down. It warned me about using too much, but I never noticed anything, or tempted fate either. Nectar caused the battlefield to slow down a bit, and for the enemies to glow a peachy red. Graphically it was dark. It looks like you’re playing Crysis on the lowest settings with sunglasses on, making it helpful as the enemies’ outfits caused them to blend in with the jungle.

After moving on, I noticed I was being shot from somewhere. I didn’t see anyone, so I ran forward. Turns out the dude was in front of me, far to the right. He must’ve detected me through the corner. Pretty wonky seeing as I couldn’t even see him. I didn’t think much of it.

A few fire fights later, and some really witless taunts directed at the enemy from your squad, I see me and my boys uncovering the wreckage of what looked to be a downed Osprey. The pilot is dying, tell me how he used to be a boxer, or something. It was a cutscene, took far too long, had no emotion or impact, and if I could I would’ve shot him myself. Not to speed him on his journey and to end his pain, but to shut him the hell up.

A couple of helicopters fly in, enemies drop out of them and I find myself doing most of the shooting, because its just now that I realize, whatever my squad is shooting at, they’re not hitting it. Which isn’t too difficult because, A) the enemy often takes cover leaving 90% of their bodies exposed, and B) they really don’t want you dead, they just want to prove that they’re as brave as you are…?

The demo ends with me hopping on a friendly chopper, with some advertisement saying “BUY THE GAME :D!” I’m left feeling dissatisfied, and the last thing I feel is the desire to shell $60 on something that to be honest wasn’t that engaging or interesting. Before a thousand “I BET YOU WERE PLAYING ON EASY!” comments rise from one guy, no, Normal. And I admit to not trying the co-op feature. The game hung on the menu saying “Logging on” for over a minute before timing out. Not to mention I wouldn’t make another soul suffer through it with me.

Overall, I’m disappointed with Free Radical’s latest outing. I was a big fan of Time Splitters: Future Perfect, but this I just can’t muster any enthusiasm over. It places a damper on my excitement over the series’ next appearance. However, one good thing came out of this. It really makes me want to play Resistance: Fall of Man again. Perhaps that is the problem. So many good shooters have surfaced this gen, that the old has a hard time meshing with the new. I have to admit, Call of Duty 4 is the all-time king of shooters at this point.

Free Radical, see me in my office concerning your Academic Probation. It’s not expulsion, we just need to talk things out.