What might be the game’s saving grace is the robust approach to multiplayer. For a start, the whole single-player campaign can be enjoyed (or endured) with four players; just kick off a co-op game and leave slots open and folks can drop in and drop out as they wish. If you want to join someone else’s campaign midway, then you can do that too – remember that you’re sparing them the horrors of the squad AI at least. With friends, this could just about make the experience enjoyable.
I’m not sure the competitive online modes are such a hit, though. Despite the Nectar powers of the Mantel side and the various skills of the rebels, it doesn’t often feel anything more than another deathmatch/team deathmatch game. Even on the PS3, where it doesn’t have Halo 3 or Gears of War to contend with, I think Haze will have a tough time keeping players away from Resistance, GRAW 2 or Call of Duty 4.
Overall, I don’t feel much glee picking over Haze’s bones. Free Radical has produced better games than this, and I hope the team will do again (though it might be an idea to license a decent engine next time around). I feel sad for everyone involved, knowing that having swapped the cheap laughs, knowing winks and simple thrills of TimeSplitters for something more earnest and ambitious, the result is so underwhelming.
Underneath all the over-zealous preaching and the stodgy gameplay, there are some fine ideas just waiting to get out. All the same, I feel sadder still for anyone who blows £40 on the thing. Perhaps the real irony is that an action game designed to make you think about what you’re doing playing action games has exactly that effect, but in the wrong way. While you’re playing Haze, you’ll ponder “why did I ever pick this up at all?”
It should have been the PS3’s premier exclusive FPS. Instead, Haze is one of the most disappointing action games of recent years.