Haze is a first-person shooter from Free Radical Design (now Crytek UK), the development studio responsible for the TimeSplitters series. Rather than sticking with the developer's multiplayer-heavy roots, Haze is more of a story-driven, single-player-focused game. The game does have a multiplayer mode though, as well as a four-player co-op option for the story. The game was published by Ubisoft in all territories. When it was first announced, it was supposed to be on the Xbox 360 and PC as well as the PlayStation 3, but at some point in the game's development, it went PS3 only.
Prior to game's release, Haze made an affiliation with Korn. This spawned a popular internet meme from the reactions of the cast of the HotSpot podcast to Johnathan Davis' agent's quote on the game which is: "Gaming for me is a religion, and Haze is the shit! I had to come up with a track that can hit up that kind of rush I get from the game, and I think we really rocked it!!"
Players take on the role of Shane Carpenter, a newly-enlisted soldier with the Mantel Corporation, who is entering into a foreign country, ostensibly to fight a dictator that they have nicknamed "Skin Coat," due to reports of natives being skinned and eaten alive. Soldiers working for Mantel are suited up in intelligent armor that monitors health and delivers a steady supply of a drug known as Nectar. Nectar can also be manually administered, giving players extra speed, more health, and greater accuracy while active. Nectar withdrawals, however, are a nasty thing, and after a couple of brief missions, you're shown exactly what Nectar is doing to the soldiers.
It's no surprise that Carpenter switches sides over the course of the game, and it's no spoiler, either -- Ubisoft has gone so far as to reveal that this happens on the back of the game's box, and this fact was a major part of the information released prior to Haze's release. However, in the game, it is treated as a major plot twist, which confuses many players.
Besides the single-player campaign, Haze has four-player co-op throughout the story and a 16-player multiplayer component with three basic modes. The rebel and Mantel units again collide here, with the Mantel troops having the ability to use Nectar and the rebel troops using the ability to play dead, which makes them disappear to the eyes of their Nectar-addled opponents.
In Haze you acquire many new weapons designed either for Mantel or The Promise Hand.
- The ‘Diplomat’- Wilson D6 Pistol
The ‘Diplomat’ is the side-arm of choice for the smart Mantel trooper. It’s got the kind of stopping power that makes the bad guys feel like they were hit by a steam train full of anvils. It’s especially good at close range “when negotiations fail” – hence it’s nickname.
- The ‘BlackSaw’ - BSW-72 Assault Rifle
The ‘BlackSaw’ is the standard issue rifle, but there ain’t nothing standard about it. This baby fires rounds made from depleted uranium, meaning that not only do you kill your opponent, you give them radiation poisoning too. Yee-ha!
- The ‘BlackSaw’ (Suppressed) - BSW-72(S) Assault Rifle
This sleek silenced version of the standard issue BlackSaw marginally reduces bullet velocity and rate of fire in exchange for near-silent firing. The perfect tool in covert operations.
- The ‘Donkey Puncher’ - DP-118 Combat Shotgun
As painful as it sounds, this high-end shotgun is more than enough to kick any ass presented to you. At close range, it’s a one shot kill affair.
- The ‘Hard Candy’ HK-387L Rocket Launcher
The Hard Candy is a state of the art rocket launcher, capable of blowing the living shit out of any armored target. Of course, it’s even more fun to try on an unarmored target. I hope you like Sloppy Joes!
- The ‘Pinpointer’ - BSW-72 ESR Enhanced Sniper
This classic sniper rifle couples the ultimate in armor-piercing rounds with a projectile velocity powerful enough to rip right through the sternum of any Promise Hand soldier. Tasty.
- ‘Spring Cleaner’ SK3 Fragmentation Grenades
Despite their sweety-pie nickname, these grenades are as tough as they come. Based on the classic dead man’s switch design, these time-operated babies are perfect for crowd clearance.
Promise Hand Weapons
- The ‘Razor Tongue’
This classic hunting knife can be used to slash or throw. The rebels can even smear the blade in Nectar by selecting it before making a Nectar Grenade. With Nectar on the blade, the Razor Tongue will cause any Mantel trooper to Overdose.
- The ‘Lobo’ (Wolf)
The Lobo is the standard rifle for most militia groups across the world, and with good cause. With a quick-load double-ended magazine and a large clip size, it’s the ideal weapon for both attack and suppression.
- The ‘Oso’ (Bear)This shotgun may be a little rough round the edges, but it still packs a punch. With a slightly larger clips size than its mantel counterpart, the Oso’s extra cartridges can make all the difference in a close-quarters firefight.
- The ‘Mano del Dios’ (Hand of God)
A massive bullet capacity and a surprisingly light weight makes this minigun the stuff of nightmares for anyone up against it. Not to be messed with.
- The ‘Dragón de la Gente’ (The People’s Dragon)
A practical, portable flamethrower with a comparatively long reach, a few sweeps with this fiery weapon can be enough to clear a room in a matter of seconds.
- The ‘Aguila’ (Eagle)
This sniper rifle carries fewer rounds than the Mantel equivalent, but what it lacks in number it makes up for in power. A deadly piece of hardware.
- ‘MalaFruta’ (BadFruit)
Old school, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. Filled with a combination of steel chippings and high explosives, these grenades are just as dangerous as Mantel’s own.
- ‘Nectar Grenades’
Made on-the-fly by strapping a Nectar Administrator onto a standard grenade, this explosive spreads a thick cloud of yellow Nectar gas across the area. Any Mantel soldier stuck in the cloud will Overdose.
Throughout Haze, you are able to drive/pilot many different vehicles.
- The ‘Boxcart’
Fast, maneuverable and all-terrain: a combination that has made the ‘Boxcart’ invaluable to Mantel troops in the difficult jungle landscape. Its lightweight frame is thanks to a notable absence of armor. So, whilst it can transport quickly, in combat it certainly can’t guarantee a safe arrival – hence its fragile namesake. Still, the fixed JM90 Heavy Gun turret is a good reason to get out of its way.
- The ‘BigBoy'At a mere 35 Tonnes, the ‘BigBoy’ tank is light in comparison to its ancestors even when fully loaded. This new low-weight version allows for fast-response tactical deployment and a reliably swift track speed. Its primary weapon - an electromagnetic coil cannon - functions like a rail gun, using magnetic forces along the barrel to propel its shells at a dangerously high velocity.
- ‘Mrs. Mantel’
Earning its alias by carrying soldiers in its ample belly and ‘birthing’ them on the battlefield, this dropship uses a combination of movable rotary engines and miniature kerosene afterburners, making it a true vertical take-off and landing craft. This motion arrangement gives the craft the means to both fly at high-speeds like a jet, but also to maneuver like a helicopter when at low speeds – thus, it is the perfect machine for rapid combat insertions.
Promise Hand Vehicles
- The ‘Macho’ (Stag)
Like most rebel equipment, the ‘Stag’ is cleverly salvaged, constructed and repaired on-the-fly – resulting in a patchwork appearance. Subsequently, it is well modified for the harsh jungle environment.
- The ‘Mula’ (Mule)
The ‘Mule’ is nothing if not ideal for jungle warfare – able to go where bulkier Mantel vehicles cannot reach, it is fast and versatile. The driver is virtually guaranteed a bumpy ride (hence its alias), but with the room for an additional passenger to fire in their defence, this vehicle is perfect for two-man smash ‘n’ grab missions.
- The ‘Palo Hueco’ (The Hollow Bat)
This helicopter has a small advantage in manoeuvrability over Mantel’s ‘Mama’, thanks to its marginally smaller size and weight. Naturally, its armor is a pale comparison to its Mantel counterpart, but its mounted miniguns ensure it is deadly to ground forces.
- The ‘Diente de la Serpiente’ (The Serpent’s Tooth)
This mobile missile launcher carries a rare second-generation nuclear missile, modified for a direct attack on the Mantel ‘Land Carrier’. The launcher itself is over 26 meters long, and is driven by two 1,800hp diesel engines with a maximum speed of just 20mph.
Poor Sales and Reception
Upon release, Haze received mostly mediocre to low review scores. A notable exception to this was Famitsu which gave the game a rating of 34 out of 40. The game was criticized for a poor story, annoying exposition methods and characters, unimpressive graphics, a low number of multiplayer modes, and AI that was prone to glitching out in both the campaign and deathmatch games- and was still terrible when it wasn't. Some elements received a more neutral response, such as the feel of some of the game's weapons and some elements of the multiplayer.
Haze was one of the few third-party exclusive titles released on the Playstation 3 in 2008. Its sales did not meet expectations, selling less than 500,000 copies that year. This is widely considered to be a major factor in the closure of Free Radical, which took place on December 18, 2008.