On the surface, Haze does everything right. Its mechanics are rock solid, collision detection is spot on, the guns have a great feel, and there’s an attempt at a moral message to the storyline. Digging deeper, Haze falls apart and becomes nothing more than a forgettable FPS with some fun four player online co-op.
The gimmick here is nectar, a drug that enhances a soldiers war time abilities to see enemies clearer, take more damage, and be more accurate with the available weapons. Nectar can be administered at any time when you have some available. Early levels force the mechanic onto the player since the enemies blend right in with the surroundings. You literally have to use nectar to see what you’re shooting at.
Midway through the game, your ability to use the drug goes away. It’s a rather odd design call given that the only differentiating factor the game had going for it was the Nectar concept. Without it, you could be playing one of a dozen other shooters that provide more entertainment value on the same level.
Privatization of the military and war profiteering as a storyline focus were handled far better by Army or Two, and unfortunately makes Haze’s story feel stale. The lackluster and hilariously awful dialogue doesn’t help matters. An anti-climatic ending doesn’t help either. Attempts to draw sympathy when things go haywire fail as the limited character development doesn’t amount to much.
Excellent vehicle controls make playing in co-op a joy. With friends, you can ignore the rather generic style and instantly unremarkable gameplay as you gun down enemies together. Most levels provide plenty of open space to form strategies and allow for enough room so that things are rarely crowded.
Playing with buddies can almost be a necessity as your AI partners apparently have limited brain power, diving into your line of fire or shooting you in the back when you’re already drawing bullets from other enemies. It can’t be that difficult to distinguish the enemy wearing bright yellow suits that are completely idiotic to wear in the midst of a warzone. So much for camouflage.
Online versus multi-player thankfully breaks from the monotonous level pulling from the single player experience (that’s what passes for a puzzle in Haze), but offers little style. Basic deathmatch is standard fare, while team objective barely expands on the experience. You’ll be forced to switch sides when people drop in and out, which is confusing when you spawn on the opposite side, playing with your former enemies.
Haze isn’t terrible. While it doesn’t offer a hefty visual punch, engaging storyline, or inventive features, the basics are enough to carry the game for the die-hard FPS fan. It’s enjoyable if you have nothing else to keep you occupied, but don’t expect a revolution.