Haze Demo Impressions

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After about eight hours of downloading, I finally got around to playing the long-awaited Haze demo early in the wee hours of this morning. To this moment in time I’ve been able to play through the demo — which is the game’s entire first mission — three times by myself and once in a full four-player online co-op game (both play out exactly the same).

So what do I think? Well, the game (in demo form keep in mind) is a mixed bag to be honest. The gameplay is rock-solid and generally entertaining, but if the game has any sort of innovation to it the demo certainly doesn’t show any of it off. The whole Nectar system is a cool idea, but in this early stage you only get to see its basic effects, which include improving sniping zoom, enabling you to see enemies better with this thermal scan type of effect, boosting melee damage and just making your character tougher against incoming attack.

You do get a sense of how Nectar usage is balanced out, though, and it’s done so in a very intriguing way. Nectar doses are in limited supply (I think you get a total of six, but I’m not positive on that) and slowly regenerate over time once used. So you can’t simply juice up on the performance-enhancer non stop, you’ve got to pace out dosage with a little strategy. What’s really cool is the overdose penalty that occurs if you do get too juiced up. Your character enters into this Nectar-rage, starts randomly firing off rounds and just plain spazzes out.

Overall, however, the core gameplay shows very little innovation or technological advancement so far. To me, the shooting and general flow of the game remind me quite a bit of Halo. Unlike most, I’ve always seen Halo (all three of them) as a very run-of-the-mill brand of FPS, and from the demo I get that same feeling about Haze. It’s definitely fun to play, but I’m not jumping out of my seat in amazement here. The AI doesn’t seem all that advanced (even on the highest difficulty), there’s no environmental interactivity or destruction whatsoever, and the level progression is very linear and scripted.

For a PS3 exclusive, I’ve been expecting Haze to shine graphically, if nothing else. But sadly, I think the graphics are what disappoint me the most so far. I’m not sure how far along this demo build is, but from what I’ve seen the textures are extremely bland, the gun designs are generic and not all that detailed and the character animations are kind of rigid. On the plus side, the lush jungle scenery and ambient lighting create a beautiful environment to explore. I only wish the there was at least some form of interaction with the vegetation. As you run along you basically just run through grass, bushes and overhanging leaves as if they aren’t even there. Little stuff like that bugs me now given the technological capabilities of the PS3.

Oh, and I can’t sign off yet without mentioning how laughably bad some of the dialogue and voice acting is. Here’s one shining example of the game’s incredible script: “Dude, we knocked those asses down like skittles!” Now just imagine that brilliant line of dialogue spoken by one of the worst southern, country-boy accents you’ve ever heard. Yeah, it’s that lousy.

Man, I didn’t mean to make this little preview sound so negative, as I have enjoyed the demo in general and am still very much looking forward to digging into the full game when it finally ships here in a couple of weeks (barring another unforeseen last-minute delay). I have high expectations for Haze, that’s all. Plus, I guess I’m a tad grumpier and nitpickier than usual after sitting through such a long download and not being completely blown away. Solid but nothing special; that about sums up my impression of the demo.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!