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Haze Demo Impressions

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Coinciding with today’s PlayStation Day, European PS3 owners were given a chance to take Free Radical’s Haze for a spin. I admit that after many delays, which pushed this title well into 2008, my interested waned considerably. However, I’m a gamer of patience and thus I downloaded the 1.5 GB demo – I deliberately set GTAIV aside just to try it out so you people better appreciate this. My thoughts? It’s not that bad or that great.

This demo offered single player campaign mode, online and offline co-op campaign modes. Up to four players can play via co-op, however I only tried with two players via local (vertical) splitscreen. As for the level being offered? It’s the same jungle level we’ve all seen from last year’s GDC. From afar (or poor quality Flash based videos), Haze looks like it could rival Crysis. In reality, it cannot. In fact, I believe I just insulted the folks at Crytek for even thinking that. Visual fidelity is not one of Haze’s strong points at all. It looks clean, but nothing on the screen is exceptional or alive. Everything from trees to shrubs, to grass remained static like the rocks they intermingle with. The use of color and processing effects were a nice touch though – especially when Nectar is being used.

As for framerate? Haze sports a nice smooth 30 frames per second during single player forays, but throwing up splitscreen bogged it down quite a bit. On the plus side, there was no screen tearing in either mode. Unfortunately, no matter how smooth the framerate was, it couldn’t help the animations. They sufficed, but they left a lot to be desired. Soldiers (friend or foe) run around like battlemechs with torsos and legs moving independently. They didn’t act human at all.

Audio work? Laughably bad. It falls into the category of “It’s so bad, it’s good.” The Mantel jocks act all bad ass with their cocky one liners and I cannot do anything, but laugh. It’s too bad they kill the foolishness with “story bits”. It’s all fun and games until you start talking to a dying pilot about his former semi-pro boxing career. Then it just gets lame.

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