Killing Those Brain Cells
If not for the loads of people who are buying the PS 3 for use as a Blu-Ray player, I'd almost feel sorry over Sony has to make do with crap exclusives like Haze. While Xboxers have a blast with Mass Effect and more, PS 3ers get second-raters like this sci-fi shooter from the TimeSplitters guys at Free Radical. You've really got to wonder if the PS 3 exclusivity crushed morale in a "Hey, why put in an effort since nobody's going to play this game anyways?" fashion, as this dumb spectacle is a pale shadow of the superb work that some of the developers here put in on Rare classics like GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark.
I could just about feel my brain cells dying with each level I played. On the surface, however, the story is actually somewhat appealing. The year is 2048, and you're in the combat boots of Sergeant Shane Carpenter, a super-soldier in the employ of the Mantel Global Industries. This multinational corporation has taken over for national armies and the UN, so its army is the sole military power on the globe. One of Mantel's biggest assets is Nectar, a substance that enhances senses and makes troops stronger, better soldiers in just about every way…if you don't take too much of it, that is, and totally lose your marbles.
Not everything is rosy in this futuristic world, though. Uber-baddie Gabriel "Skin Coat" Marino (so nicknamed because he supposedly wears the skins of murdered enemies) has kicked up a fuss with a faction of noble guerillas called The Promise Hand in South America. Since Mantel is the only army left on the planet, it has no choice but to send in a squad of troops to deal with this apparently maniacal killer and his gangs of jungle goons.
Sound good? I actually thought that the basic plot synopsis made Haze sound at least reasonably promising. Developers have made good shooters out of far dumber stories than this one (I'm looking at you, SiN). But nothing is done to build on the basic storyline. The moral issue of drugging up soldiers is addressed in the most simple-minded fashion through a plot twist that even the most dope-addled loser would see coming a mile away. Gee, a multinational conglomerate with a chemically altered private army isn't
the good guy?
Given that, it would probably have been a lot better if the soldiers-on-dope angle had been played for laughs. Although even then I'm not sure that Free Radical would be up to making with the funny, as the ostensibly amusing battle boasts from your frat-boy buddies are actually spectacularly annoying. Nearly every line seems to end with either "Beeyotch!" or "Boosh!" No, I don't know what a boosh is. Other than damned annoying after I've heard it a couple of dozen times in a couple of hours.