Haze, your democratic rights are secure! Mantel Global's troops will protect you and spread freedom to all who oppose democracy. This new FPS from the developers at Free Radical is set in the year 2025 and promises to be a crazy and hazy ride. Little is know about the story and setting of Haze, but from what was shown at E3, the graphics will be really eye-catching.
The presentation given at Ubisoft's booth was both funny, and from my point of view, a satirical look at today's politics and corporations. As soon as we entered the private screening area, the two presenters launched into a very choreographed and lively presentation. Their slogan, "Mantel Global Industries – our business is your future." At first, the main presenter started off by bragging about how good the company was doing in the past fiscal year and how many drugs and satellites they had been developing and deploying. Then, to show off their military wing of development, the presentation shifted into the helmet mounted camera of a soldier in a field of conflict.
From this first person perspective we are shown a lush jungle teeming with life and enemies. Light streams through the jungle leaves and creates an ominous setting as bullets and grenades vie for his life. As the demo advances, and the bad guys fall, there is an enemy who has surrendered. In a show of blatant disregard for life or the rules of engagement, the surrendered hostile is executed. That's when the helmet camera's connection is cut.
Little else is known about the plot or where the action will be set in Haze. Essentially, Mantel Global controls the largest fighting force available for hire to fight for Democracy. From the demo at E3 it seems like there will be some kind of mind altering substance involved in the control and subsequent abilities of the soldiers. I'm guessing that this title will touch on the darker side of combat and bring up moral issues that many of our troops over in Iraq have faced in the real world. "Should I shoot the kid carrying the gun?" are the kinds of decisions that Haze promises to force on players. But we will just have to wait and see to really know what Free Radical has in mind.
Haze does hold promise to be an interesting FPS; however, I just wonder if it will fall under the category of just another sci-fi FPS. Time will tell, and in 2007 Haze is scheduled to release on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. In the coming months I hope to hear more about the story, AI dynamics, graphics and physics engines, and what the ESRB rating will be. There is still a lot to learn about Haze (I'll avoid the obvious pun here), but judging from its lively and energetic presentation, I was both surprised and interested to learn more.