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Players: 1-4
Price: $59.99
Platform(s): PS3
Developer: Free Radical
Publisher: Ubisoft
ESRB: Mature
Website: www.HazeGame.com
Release Date: May 20, 2008

Haze is nearing its launch window, and the game is looking pretty tight at the moment. But before you go getting your palms all sweaty and sticky over the upcoming playable co-op demo, you might want to whet your thoughts with a quick preview of the game. Running on the new Conspire AI engine (allowing enemies to strategically react to players on the fly) and featuring streamlined, action-packed gameplay from start to finish, Haze is definitely a next-gen gamer’s game.

Graphically, Free Radical has set out to establish a much more realistic feel for Haze, rather than the cartoony look that was employed for TimeSplitters. However, graphics just aren’t for eye-candy in Haze, it plays a significant part in how the story unfolds, literally. Players will start the game out as MantelCorp Soldiers, experiencing the early missions from a video game standpoint due to the human enhancing drug, Nectar: Bodies fade from view, there’s no blood and everything war-related is censored. The drug, in the game, also allows players a heightened sense of reality, allowing them to exercise more damage with melee attacks and to see enemies more clearly, among other things. In essence Nectar is like the ultimate steroid...including full-on psychotic freak-outs if you take too much.

As the game progresses, however, players will switch sides once they realize that MantelCorp are the real bad guys of the story. While playing on the side of the rebels, players will experience a much grittier take on the war: Blood stains don’t disappear, bodies don’t fade and there’s nothing censoring gamers from the full-on horrors of a farinaceous gunfight. What’s more though, is that players will lose the heightened abilities offered by Nectar. Instead, Nectar will work as a weapon for the player: Cutting a MantelCorp soldier’s drug pack could cause him to panic, giving the player an attacking advantage. There’s also the option of throwing a Nectar bomb that could make a group of soldiers go berserk and kill each other. Who knew playing with drugs could be so fun?

But gunfights won’t be the only thing that will keep players busy in this futuristic shooter; vehicles will also play an important role in both travel and combat. Said vehicles will also be available across the wide-variety of multiplayer maps, for both online and offline play. While we’re on the subject of multiplayer...this brings me to a very important feature of Haze: four-player co-op. What makes Haze slightly different from a lot of other co-op games out there is that (in similitude to the upcoming Borderlands) Haze offers both online and offline four-player co-op modes. So for those of you who prefer an atmosphere filled with the belching and wind breaking antics of three other people while you blast down bad guys, then Haze has you covered. Otherwise, you can fill the atmosphere with your own belching and wind breaking antics while still playing with three other people from around the world. Talk about the best of both worlds.

For some Nectar injecting action be sure to look for Free Radical’s next-gen shooter, Haze, to hit store shelves on May 20th, exclusively for the PlayStation 3.

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