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What do you get when you cross First-Person Shooter gameplay with a storyline that's totally not about The War on Terror? What do you get when you send a bunch of drugged-up macho frat boys with assault rifles and glowing neon armor into the jungle to hunt stereotypical South American guerilla types? What do you get when Ubisoft messes around with it?
You get Haze, that's what. Initially planned to be a key multi-platform title for the 360, Play Station 3, and PC, Haze suddenly narrowed to the Play Station 3 alone and was briefly built up as the Play Station 3's Halo-killer. Marketed as a hard-hitting Deconstruction of modern shooters, the game was initially quite hyped. Upon release, critics quickly declared it to be an average shooter with mediocre gameplay and graphics, combined with over-the-top voice acting and dialogue and an Anvilicious Aesop about war (it's bad). The critical pummeling it got on release and its devastatingly low sales made it a disaster for its creators. Free Radical went into financial administration within months of the game's release and was later acquired by Crytek, thus becoming Crytek UK.
Haze focuses around the soldiers of Private Military Contractor / Megacorporation Mantel Industies, and their battle to "liberate" an unnamed South American country from the guerilla forces of the Promise Hand, led by Gabriel "Skincoat" Merino. Mantel doses its soldiers with the performance-enhancing drug "Nectar".
Of course, it quickly becomes apparent that Mantel's troops are immature, testosterone-driven man-children to whom war is a big video game, and Mantel itself is an evil corporation whose supposed humanitarian reasons for intervening in the country are merely propaganda to cover up their real motives for storming in and killing the indigenous folks. And Merino turns out to be saintly old man who, despite what Mantel propaganda claims, does not, in fact, eat people or wear their skins. The player character, Mantel trooper Shane Carpenter, eventually defects from Mantel to the Promise Hand, trading his Nectar-enhanced Power Armor for guerilla-style tactics such as playing dead, disarming enemies with melee attacks, and using Nectar knives and Nectar grenades to overdose enemy soldiers and cause them to go berserk.
Oh, and one more thing...
- You Fail Biology Forever: Weaponised withdrawal symptoms?
- A Space Marine Is You: But only in the first half. Afterwards, you're a Space Marine with much less health and a slightly less silly costume.
- America Saves the Day: An attempt at subversion and Deconstruction.
- Anticlimax Boss: The final shootout against Duvall. He's a totally normal enemy with a pistol that happens to kill you in two hits and a ridiculous number of Hit Points.
- An Aesop: Anviliciously so: WAR IS BAD.
- Awesome but Impractical: Nectar knives and the overdose mechanic. You can make soldiers overdose and attack each other, but it's rather less convoluted to just shoot them.
- Base on Wheels: The Land Carrier is a mobile helicopter carrier.
- Banana Republic: The Goal Of Mantel is to secure the region to make them grow Nectar plants for the consumption of the people back home.
- Battleship Raid: The entire final level is an assault against the fast-moving Mantel Landcarrier, from chasing the carrier with jeeps and disabling its defences, to boarding it and fighting through it room by room up to the bridge.
- Bigger Bad: Mantel, oddly enough. A "General" is vaguely hinted at at one point, but in the player's experience Mantel doesn't even have any commissioned officers with the Big Bad a Sergeant, and the corporate aspect doesn't really come up.
- Big Stupid Doodoo Head: One of the most bizzare (and very rarely heard) Promised hand insults is, "I'm glad to see you dead, shitclown."
- Black and White Morality: Taken to extremes rarely seen since the likes of Doom.
- Broken Faceplate: The cover art. And only the cover art.
- Broken Record: Rob Yescombe knows the secret keyboard command to write a death scene is control+v.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Performed by Duvall on Merino, which finally pushes player character Shane into his Heel Face Turn.
- Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Extended to nobody ever shutting up unless you've killed them.
- Crapsack World: Shane states he was born during a time of political/economic collapse around most parts of the world, the situation was so bad that that the Olympics turned to Munich 2.0. But only on the trailers. In the final game, Shane was living happily with his parents before dropping out of college and joining up because he saw some propaganda.
- Critical Annoyance: Only in the Mantel section of the game, though.
- Did Not Do the Research: Kicks off right at the beginning as, while Duvall correctly states that Sergeants don't call each other "sir", the fact is NCOs are never called "sir" by anyone, not even the ranks below them. It only goes downhill from there.
- Doesn't Like Guns: The development team, seemingly; Doak went on record saying he disliked the image of gamers "knowing how to field strip an AK-47." This results in, among other things, a shotgun that looks like it was pieced together from copper pipes and melted lumps of plastic.
- Downloadable Content: A free multiplayer map pack was released shortly after the game's initial release, though it only actually included one new map with the others being relit existing maps or lifted directly from singleplayer. Another comprised of the same (three relights, three singleplayer, one new) was released later, and cost money.
- Drugs Are Bad: The depiction of Nectar seems to have been ramped up to anti-drug PSA proportions, which rather undermines the idea that anyone would want to corner the market on it.
- Dueling Games: With Blacksite Area 51, another FPS as noted for its Anvilicious politics as for its poor gameplay.
- Elite Mooks: Mantel Black Ops, professional soldiers covertly used by Mantel to cover up their dirty deeds by eliminating any standard Red Shirt stormtroopers who get out of line (such as yourself). They're introduced by having a group fastrope down onto a cablecar you're riding, followed by, in all likelihood, at least half of them walking off the sides and falling to their deaths. Boosh?
- Enemy Chatter: Do you remember your promise to Merino?! No, but we will bring Mantel to its knees!!
- Everything Fades: An attempt at subversion. When playing as Mantel, bodies disappear immediately upon death, because Nectar causes the soldier's mind to block out the realities of war. When playing as the Promise Hand, you can exploit this by "playing dead", causing you to disappear from the enemy's sight. Though half the time the AI will shoot you anyway and the move requires you to be almost dead.
- Failure Hero: Shane.
- Fantastic Drug: Nectar, performance enhancing drug, hides the realities of war, ultimately kills you.
- For the Evulz: Mantel is from the Umbrella school of corporate decision making.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: Not here, thankfully, though Rebels are ridiculously tough and enter a "dying" state where they can be revived. The tougher Mantel soldiers, on the other hand, just, um, die.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: The Rebels sometimes shout phrases in Spanish, then the same things again in English.
- Guns Do Not Work That Way: When you mount a red-dot reflex sight on a weapon you're generally supposed to turn it on. Oddly, this exact error was also in Haze's cousin Blacksite.
- Hand Cannon: The Mantel pistol is about the same in terms of power as the sniper rifle, and Shane handles the recoil so badly it's like he's trying to get a stovepipe jam.
- Hand Wave: The game never really establishes any ground rules for what Nectar can and can't do. This results in Fridge Logic.
- Healing Hands: Shane Carpenter has the remarkable ability to bring rebel soldiers back to life by patting them on the back.
- Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: The Mantel troopers' ridiculous glowing yellow armor. And while the Promised Hand wear camouflage, they then ruin the effect with their bright red insignia.
- Hypocritical Humor: Not intended as humorous by the game, but it is kind of funny that after Marino's long speech about not doing what others say is right and relying on your own morals, you are expected to do whatever Marino says is right. Of course, he isn't evil like Mantel, but the hypocrisy is still there.
- Turns out the hypocrisy is intentional after all (but not the humor).
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: While the normal soldiers you fight have respectable aim, Mantel snipers are amazingly bad shots, usually only hitting the player in one out of every ten shots or so, while the player is standing still. Subverted in that they tend to have REALLY good aim when throwing grenades.
- Indecisive Deconstruction: The game was marketed as a Deconstruction of the standard-issue military FPS. Whilst deconstructive intent is present, the writing seems to undermine the message on several levels (i.e. if war is full of moral complexities and isn't usually able to be boiled down to a simplistic goodies vs. baddies narrative, why does the game portray Mantel as purely evil and the resistance fighters as borderline saintly?).
- Jump Scare: When wandering through the swamp, you hear some static and weird noises then an extreme close up of a panicked face screaming, "JUST AN ANIMAL! fills the entire screen.
- Large Ham: Shane and Duvall both come across as over-the-top and most definitely on drugs.
- Lost in Transmission: "What ever you do don't..."
- Made of Iron: Sgt. Duvall can withstand a little over two full mags of assault rifle fire, simply because he's the final boss. By comparison, the basic Mantel trooper goes down after only 4 bullets and even the Elite Mooks only take 7 or 8 bullets to kill.
- Metaphorgotten: Nectar is a metaphor for propaganda! Except later it's a metaphor for oil, and Shane talks about actual propaganda. So people fight wars so they can have more propaganda? There are two different kinds of propaganda, one of which is like oil and the other isn't?
- Mega Corp: Mantel.
- Neck Lift: The Mantel Black Ops have this as a special move.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Apart from the lack of the scene the page picture is from and the Crapsack World elements mentioned above, Shane also has a completely different voice actor in the trailer.
- Not So Different: Duvall and the supposedly-good Merino: Merino gives a worried soldier almost exactly the same "it's all just chemicals in your brain" speech Duvall gave Shane much earlier.
- Then, at the end, Merino talks about using Nectar on his own people, saying that it's like a sword: only bad in the wrong hands. Mantel were the wrong people to have nectar because, according to Merino, "They're just animals."
- Obviously Evil: Mantel.
- Playing the Player: Unfortunately, it's given away on the back of the box. And in the manual. And if you wait more than ten seconds on the title screen. And by your fellow soldiers being evil.
- Plot Hole: Given the plot was subjected to multiple forced rewrites, this is unlikely to come as a shock. Grab-bag: invisible bodies nobody notices even though they're still there, Mantel soldiers calling for medics when they don't think they can be injured, being able to see enemies in a perfect world, Merino's peaceful village with a nuclear missile, and the lack of any explanation for Mantel's desire to corner the market on a drug they know kills people.
- Private Military Contractors: Mantel, but not really: it seems to be acting on its own rather for a client, and has apparently replaced the national armed forces of every country on the planet.
- Psychopathic Manchild: The Mantel troopers in general.
- Psycho Serum: Nectar.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Once you learn Merino does not, in fact, eat people and wear their skin, and subsequently switch sides to the Rebels. Merino turns out to want Nectar for himself, but there's never any attempt to make the Rebels themselves seem anything other than Butt Monkeys.
- Rousing Speech: Merino gives one toward the end. It's actually pretty good.
- Secondary Fire: Seemingly planned; the designs of the Rebel and Mantel assault rifles both include a large underbarrel structure that was likely intended to be a Grenade Launcher.
- Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Got a bunch of Mantel soldiers grouped together? Toss a nectar grenade into their ranks, and watch them kill each other, with the survivors usually blowing themselves up afterwards!
- Shout-Out: Mantel's troops are a lot like the Xtacles. Boosh!
- Sound Effect Bleep: While the game isn't short on swearing including uncensored F-words, at one point Duvall's speech to a dying Rebel is censor-bleeped twice.
- Strawman Political: Yes.
- This Loser Is You: Mantel troopers in a nutshell.
- Too Dumb to Live: In one mission, you throw grenades at Mantel artillery, damaging but not destroying it. The artillery pieces promptly continue to fire several times, bits of them flying off from the recoil of each shot, until they collapse and explode.
- Verbal Tic: Duvall says "buddy" a lot, buddy.
- Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Haze has an absolutely terrible flamethrower; the range is woeful, it's hideous to look at, the fire effect is comically 2D, ammo is fairly rare, and all told you might as well just pack a shotgun.
- Whole-Plot Reference: To Platoon: Duvall is Barnes, Shane is Taylor, Teare is Grodin.
- You Bastard: Were the developers channeling Uwe Boll?