Whilst games frequently pin their appeal on either the story or the gameplay, it’s pretty rare for something to come along that does both. Haze, the new first person shooter from Free Radical Design, is due out on PS3 at the end of this year and looks like it might just do it.
So far, we’ve heard plenty about the narrative: Mantel Global Industries doses up its private army with a ‘nutritional supplement’ called Nectar, and sends them into South America to fight a rebel faction called The Promise Hand, who are lead by a man affectionately known as ‘Skin Coat’ (because he skins his prisoners to make clothes for himself. Nice). Appealing so far. But Free Radical are keen to point out that there’s plenty more to Haze than meets the eye.
We already know that the main character, Shane Carpenter, switches sides during the game but Free Radical’s Rob Yescombe even describes it as “two games in one box”. With a separate set of skills and abilities for both opposing forces, the single player campaign will play like a high-tech shooter when you’re with Mantel, looking very much like a video game – with fading bodies, and no blood, before switching to a pared-down, more realistic experience once you change sides. Then, free from Nectar, you can expect to see all the blood, gore and general warlike suffering that your heart desires.
Taking a dose of Nectar will immediately make you tougher – you’ll be able to take more hits and dish out more damage yourself. As well as that, you’ll have four key abilities. All you have to do, is try not to take too much of the stuff or you’ll go nuts and start gunning down your squad mates.
1. Nectar Perception: Thanks to the awesome HDR effects in Haze, the rebels can hide in the gloomier parts of the environment. But, thanks to nectar, you’ll be able to spot them no problem.
2. Nectar Focus: The ultimate sniping aid. When you’re zoomed in, this ability will help tweak your aim towards the perfect head-shot.
3. Nectar Foresight: Working like a sixth sense, this ability lets you see when something bad is about to happen to you. For instance, if a grenade lands at your feet, you’ll see a ‘ripple’ effect pulse out of it, warning you that it’s about to go off. The same happens if someone has a clear shot on you, or is about to melee you.
4. The Melee Blast: Who hasn’t wanted to be able to smack a particularly annoying bad guy across the room? The Melee Blast is an enormously powerful strike that will send those rebels flying.
THE PROMISE HAND (Rebels) skills:
1. Weapon Steal: Get close enough to a Mantel soldier, and you’ll be able to punch him in the face and grab the gun right out of his hands. Seeing as they’re so damn tough, it’s the perfect way to even the odds.
2. Play Dead: This one’s really interesting. When the Mantel guys are using Nectar, it censors their view of reality – so they can’t see any blood or death. That means that when they kill a rebel, the body just fades away. So, by pretending to be dead, you’ll disappear, just like any other corpse in a videogame. Then, when the Mantel soldier turns his back, you can jump to your feet and plug one in the back of his head.
3. Scavenge: As a rebel, you’ll be able to recalibrate ammo from different weapons to fit yours. So, if you happen to find a minigun but it’s out of ammo, you can fix ammo from, say, a pistol to fit that gun instead.
4. Traps: You can bury grenades under the earth, to leave a nasty surprise for anyone on your tail.
5. Evade: Without the cumbersome Mantel armoured suit on, you'll be able to roll, duck, dive and leap across the rooftops to avoid being hit.
Using Nectar against Mantel:
You can force a Mantel soldier to overdose on Nectar. This will make him
freak out and start shooting all his friends. There are several ways to
1. Nectar Grenade: By ripping the Nectar pack off the back of a dead soldier, you can strap it onto a grenade. When it goes off, the cloud of yellow gas will make any Mantel trooper in the vicinity overdose.
2. Nectar Knife: When you make a Nectar Grenade, you can smear the stuff on the blade of your knife. So, if you melee or throw it at someone, they’ll overdose.
3. Nectar Pack Shot: The round yellow disc on the back on each Mantel trooper is his Nectar Pack. It’s tricky, but if you can get a clear shot or melee it, you’ll make it malfunction and pump too much Nectar into the poor bad guy’s bloodstream – another overdose situation.
More on Haze soon.