Some games rise to the occasion, managing to ride the wave of hype into gaming history, but others crumble. Haze, from TimeSplitters developer Free Radical, feels like a game crushed under the weight of expectation, a game that appears to have been frozen in time from four years ago. As solid as certain parts of the game are, no amount of nectar coursing through your veins will disguise the ugly truth that Haze is one of the most disappointing releases of the year.
Haze begins with you, Shane Carpenter, fighting as part of the Mantel Global Industries' army, an army tanked up on a yellow liquid known as Nectar. This is administered to every soldier while out in the battlefield and paints a very different view of war compared to reality. While high on the yellow stuff you can't see dead bodies, the world is brighter, enemies stick out as if they're on fire and threats are seen before they happen. Essentially Nectar turns normal soldiers into super soldiers, able to take on pretty much whatever stands in their way.
Your Nectar high is lost fairly quickly though. Although you can tap L2 to administer another dose (assuming you haven't used your supply) it's far better to keep the high going by taking down enemies. Each successful kill replenishes your meter slightly, allowing you to remain a super soldier for as long as there are enemies to kill.
Things aren't quite as clear cut as they sound. As with all drugs, an overdose isn't recommended. Take too much and your vision will blur and your view of the world will change for the worst. Worst still, you'll start shooting uncontrollably. While you can just about control this, when it happens to a team-mate you better find a safe place very quickly. The inconsistent AI soldiers have a habit of running in the line of fire, so you'll frequently hit their Nectar dispensers causing an OD - very annoying.
It's fair to say that the opening few levels of Haze are interesting, if not spectacular. The Nectar system makes for a game that feels different to the rest of first-person shooters on offer, and the banter between characters gives a good insight into the lives of soldiers and the politics going on. Sadly the game changes rather drastically quite early on, with you seeing the truth behind the Nectar. Seeing the error of your ways you switch sides, opting to help out the rebels of the Promise Hand in their fight against Mantel.
From here on you don't have access to the ability enhancing Nectar, meaning what plays out is simply a rather generic, bland FPS. Instead of using Nectar to enhance your own abilities you use it against the Mantel soldiers. Lob a Nectar grenade into a group of soldiers and they'll OD on the gas. Losing all control, they'll turn on their own team mates, leaving you to mop up the remaining soldiers. The same goes for a knife dipped in the yellow liquid, which is deadly in the right hands. Aside from these offensive weapons, as a rebel you can also double tap jump to dodge incoming fire and press L2 to play dead - making you invisible to Mantel soldiers. You don't really need to use the Nectar weapons, as the enemies aren't too smart, but playing dead comes in handy every once in a while and means you'll rarely die on the game's standard difficulty setting.