Let me start by saying that Haze really wasn't on my radar as a "must have" title. Honestly I didn't even know it was being released this week. Well, against better judgement I purchased the game. That's not to say it's bad, but after coming off so many other great shooters, it's really a let down. On to the review.
GRAPHICS: Don't let the screenshot below my review fool you. This game is not the next Crysis. If there was ever a definition of mixed bag, it's Haze. The graphics go from great to terrible quickly, depending on what level you're on. The first opening levels look decent enough and actually got me excited to play the game! Now was the Free Radicals plan? Possibly, but who knows for sure. When you first start playing you get to see all kinds of neat stuff. The HDR lighting (that's the norm for next-gen games) is alive and well and in the outdoor environments you can really see how great the lighting is. The jungles look good, with mist and fog obscuring the Promise Hand rebels waiting to ambush you. The texture work is decent, but you've definitely seen better. Once you get further along though, you'll really see the texture work go downhill. The cargo ship really springs to mind. It's basically a rust coloured maze of corridors where you get to play Mantel shooting gallery. It's very dark and sometimes hard to find your way because of that. One of my biggest complaint is that Free Radical decided to use 576p and upscale to 720p, which makes this game a blurry mess on most HDTV. It looks horrible on my 32" LCD. Their reason behind this was to supposedly speed up the game. Honestly I would have rather had a great looking 720p or 1080p that had some slowdown, then this blurry mess. The character models are decent, but nothing near the quality or polish of any Timesplitters game. That includes the original TS on the PS1. The texture work on the characters is also very poorly presented. You'll get frequent texture draw ins on NPCs, enviroments and even your character. It's pretty jarring and very noticable and really kills the immersion factor. Vehicles are also decently modeled, but again nothing special.SOUND: Haze actually gets something right in this department. The guns sound as they should, which is always a plus and explosions will rock your room if you've got 5.1. The only real big concern is the often repeated dialog. While it's funny to hear your compadre yell, "This is the most fun I've had with my pants on!", "I never want this war to end!" or some other corny one liner (I think they have about 8 sayings or at least that's what it seems like) after you've heard it for the 3000th time, it starts to really grate your ears. The sounds of combat are well done and really add to the chaos, at times, that surrounds you. The vehicles actually sound good.
GAMEPLAY: Here's where Free Radicals experience paid off. We all know how buttery smooth Timesplitters controls are and Haze's are no exception. The aiming is great and gives off a Call of Duty 4 accuracy vibe. Ironsighting your weapon gives a wobbly camera view with the barrel straight in front of you. This will also depend on wether or not you're using a Mantel soldier or a Promise Hand rebel. Mantel soldiers don't ironsight, but have a zoomable scope that is produced by the helmets visor they wear, were as the rebels have to ironsight the gun. Another difference that becomes apparent is that lack of rolling that the Mantel soldiers can't do, but the rebels can. This is odd, but I guess highly trained or at least juiced up soldiers don't roll or get on the ground. Speaking of that you can't go prone, which really sucks in MP games if you're the sniping type. The much hyped Nectar is a neat gimmick but never really lives up to its true potential. It, in my opinion, closely resembles the beast view that the lizard guy had in Brute Force on the XBOX. I can't remember his name, since I've tried very hard to forget that game. Basically it makes enemies glow a bright orangish red colour making them easier to spot against the enviroments, which you'll really need since this game has some really dark areas and no flashlight option. It also allows you to move slightly faster then you would normally, something that you really won't notice to much since it's not a dramatic leap and aim more precise. I never had a problem aiming, so I again didn't notice much of a difference. You're also supposed to be able to take more damage, but if you're playing on normal or hard, you'll get dropped with just a few quick shots anyways, on or off Nectar.ONLINE: Like most people I thought the MP would be the savior for this game. I was wrong. Oh how I was wrong. It's a mess. From the extreme texture draw in, to audio glitches, to major bouts of lag, poorly handling vehicles because of the lag. Hit detection so bad you'll think that forgot to pull the trigger. Haze has all the prerequisite modes you've come to expect: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and a few others. I was a little suprised to see that it doesn't have a CTF mode to speak of, but It does offer some other interesting game modes in its place.
OVERALL: It's a rental. Sorry to say it, but there's just not enough here to recommend this as a $59.99 purchase, mainly because what is there seems so poorly done that Free Radical might as well have started development on it last month. Even the MP can't save this game from it's own mediocrity and bargain bin destiny.Thanks for reading!