Haze Demo Impressions

Well, the demo of the kinda-bored-of-waiting-for PS3 exclusive Haze was released onto the EU PSN as a nice little treat for Playstation Day. It’s a shortish demo, with a fair bit of fighting, a dash of story and a moment that will make you fall out of your chair.

Please note that this article may contain spoilers, so if you’d like to experience it yourself please do so prior to reading. If you read first, it’s your own fault.

First, we’ll start at the skin. The graphics suck. Sorry guys, but the graphics are not impressive at all, it’s not that well textured, the guns don’t look too impressive, there’s just no visual flair of impressiveness that we would have liked to see. On the other hand, it looks different to the screenshots we’ve seen of the game, so maybe this is not going to be what the graphics will look like in the finished product. The HUD is nicely contained on the helmet’s visor – there are a few times when your visor flips up and the HUD goes with it, which is a nice touch. You’ll also notice you can see the edges of your helmet, which is another nice touch.

The game drops you into a firefight in a jungle, which is a nice place for a firefight, and begins by giving you a mini-tutorial on the Nectar system. We like Nectar. The difference Nectar makes is surprisingly large enough to make us want to use it, and when you come down from your high you really notice the difference. You hold L2 to give yourself a shot, the longer you hold it down the more you inject. Be warned though, if you inject too much you’ll overdose and begin shooting your teammates into little pieces, which they probably won’t appreciate too much.

Nectar does a number of things to you; it makes you stronger (as the game tells you by saying you should test it out by meleeing an enemy or two), it makes you noticeably faster, it makes your aim steadier and it gives you a longer field of vision (ie, you can see further). It also makes enemies glow, giving their position away. Once you get used to the Nectar system, it’s surpising how efficiently you can kill, and how much difference there is when you’re not dosed. We found ourselves running at enemies and taking them all out, instead of using cover like we would in CoD4.

At one point, during the middle of the demo, there is a Nectar Disruption. What this actually is we don’t know because it isn’t explained, but it scared the crap out of us. You walk nicely forward and suddenly there’s a loud screaming and your screen blurs for a second, flashing ‘Nectar Disruption’ on your HUD. After you jump back into your skin, everything is back to normal, and your in game character questions an NPC about the screaming, who replies by saying it was an animal, which we obviously don’t buy.

You proceed to a few more fire fights, and you’ll find a dying pilot who tells you something about his life before (we assume) becoming a soldier (he was a semi-pro wrestler/boxer/martial artist/canine behaviourist, if you’re interested), before dying. Then another fire fight follows before you’re extracted on a copter and the demo ends.

As far as the single player goes it’s pretty average. There isn’t much that really stands out short of the Nectar highs, overdosing and jumping out of your skin. It’s fairly average and doesn’t really seem like it will come anywhere near to beating CoD4 as it is. However, we do have some hope. The story looks like it could be interesting, and seeing what Nectar does and how the soldiers that use it were lied to could, indeed, be very intriguing. We think that this game, if the graphics are actually better in the full version and the storyline lives up to what is hinted at, could be good, or at least better than average.

Now, we move past single player and sample the limited delights that come with the online cooperative play. You can play with 3 other people who replace the NPC controlled characters in the single player (and if they drop out they are replaced by an NPC again, and if someone else drops in the NPC is replaced).

The coop gameplay is about 10x better than single player for a couple of reasons. First, the AI is ass-retarded – at one point an enemy soldier and an ally NPC were back to back fighting off their respective enemies, which is just stupid. When actual players take control the demo runs by a lot quicker, on the count of everyone being high on Nectar and speeding through with superhuman agility which is surprisingly enjoyable. There is also no noticeable lag at all, at least none whilst we were playing.

A problem is the overdose feature of Nectar. On your player’s back in their Nectar pack, if this gets shot a few times (by enemy or friend) you’ll instantly overdose and your gun will shoot randomly. This is a problem for a few reasons – when you’re playing with actual people you don’t want to shoot them because they’ll develop a grudge and shoot you, and we can easily see this being abused by the morons that play online to wreck it for everybody else.

Other than that, the coop is better than the single player, which is predictable, really. So the Haze demo was moderately enjoyable, but it hinted at better things to come with the full version of the game. We’re interested to see what the competitive multiplayer modes will be like, namely, will they keep Nectar for us to use in online deathmatches and such?

We’re cautiously optimistic about Haze, and we hope our optimism will pay off.