The Rebels do have their own particular skills, though - like being able to salvage any ammo and fit it into your current weapon. Just hold O over some shotgun shells and you’ll cram them into your assault rifle in the blink of an eye. You’ll only get a few rounds with this method but it does help out when you’re running low. Yet when you can just pick up the dropped weapon and have a couple of clips ready, why bother? And as well as being able to roll out of the way of enemy fire (double tap X) you can also use Nectar against the Mantel army by dipping your knife in the yellow stuff and ramming it home with R2. This will make them overdose and try to kill each other. Again, this is another neat idea that’s taken away from you when playing as the Mantel. Too many toots on the Nectar pipe and the screen turns red and everyone becomes a black silhouette. To make matters worse you’ll automatically fire indiscriminately at the shadows until you can wrestle the right stick away.
Like we said earlier, the core mechanics are as sharp as anything TimeSplitters provided, and the way the enemies drop after some accurate shots is more than satisfying. This spells great things for TS4, as it’ll be using this engine, but more importantly, Haze should be bags of fun online.
You can create traps by holding down Square over a downed soldier, ripping their Nectar pack away and then strapping it to a grenade - creating a gas bomb that will confuse Mantel troops who inhale the fumes. You can even bury them in the sand by looking down and holding Square. We really liked these bits early on, but they never develop into anything more interesting and you can easily get by without ever using them. A disarming move has a similar effect - hit R2 to melee, Square to steal the gun and then R1 to blast the fool back to God. This is more of a show-boating move to humiliate foes during online battles than an integral way to survive through the single-player campaign.
So Haze, as a PS3 exclusive, is far from a reason to own a PS3. But there is a certain charm to it. Under the rough exterior there’s an engine almost on par with the perfect Call of Duty 4 mechanics. It’s just a shame that the other ingredients that make Free Radical’s PS3 debut are poorly emphasized (Rebel skills), shallow (the story and lack of Nectar-fueled hours) or damn ugly (just about anything you look at). We don’t doubt that TimeSplitters 4 will be great - well, a tiny bit, but we’re optimistic Free Radical will bounce back - but we just hope that the developers can match their mastery of core FPS mechanics with visuals to match. Haze’s final twist is the cruelest of all: good things don’t always come to those who wait.
May 20, 2008