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Video Game / Haze

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He already looks pretty bad but he's even worse!

A 2007 First-Person Shooter with a storyline akin to The War on Terror, about a bunch of drugged-up macho frat boys with assault rifles and glowing neon armor sent into the jungle to hunt stereotypical South American guerilla types, unfortunately with a lot of Executive Meddling.

Initially planned to be a key multi-platform title, Haze suddenly narrowed to the PlayStation 3 alone and was briefly built up as the PS3'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. 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, before finally closing their doors in 2014.

Haze focuses around the soldiers of Private Military Contractor / Megacorporation Mantel Industies, and their battle to "liberate" an unnamed South American country from the guerrilla 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 guerrilla-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.

For a more successful Deconstruction of military FPSs, see Spec Ops: The Line.

This Video Game includes the following tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: The multiplayer mode features a number of Grand Theft Auto style radio broadcasts that provide much more backstory about the game's world than the game itself.
  • Arm Cannon: The rocket launcher is wielded as a huge wrist-mounted device that enemies fire one-handed.
  • Artistic License – Biology: A major component of rebel play is "weaponized withdrawal" using Nectar-based weapons.
  • 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 (unless you play on the highest difficulty, in which case you really are a flimsy freedom fighter going up against roided-up super-soldiers).
  • America Saves the Day: An attempt at subversion and deconstruction.
  • 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. Especially as an overdosed soldier still has a 50/50 chance of going after you instead of his squadmates.
  • Ax-Crazy: Pretty much every Mantel soldier once you get past the Nectar's attempts to blur this behavior to you. Duvall stands out head and shoulders above the rest, though, justifying all of his murdering and destruction while screaming at the top of his lungs about the rebels being "nothing more than fucking animals" and meat for the slaughter.
  • Base on Wheels: The Land Carrier is essentially an aircraft carrier on wheels.
  • Banana Republic: The goal Of Mantel is to secure the region and destroy the local Nectar plants to keep their monopoly on the drug.
  • 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.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: One of the most bizarre (and very rarely heard) Promised Hand insults is, "I'm glad to see you dead, shitclown."
  • Broken Aesop: The supposed message of the game is that war is not the simple good-vs-evil affair that video games portray it as. However, this is undermined by the fact that Mantel is Obviously Evil even before you defect from them while the Promise Hand are borderline angels. As a result, once the player defects from Mantel to the Promise Hand, the game turns into the same Black-and-White Morality story it claims to criticize.
  • Broken Faceplate: The cover art, though Trailers Always Lie.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: do shoot a few soldiers, but most of it is spent riding a very slow gondola, listening to a recording telling you about the boring scenery.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Performed by Duvall on Merino, which finally pushes player character Shane into his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Sergeant Duvall and Gabriel Merino are both overly fond of giving long speeches that ultimately don't really go anywhere.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Extended to nobody ever shutting up unless you've killed them.
  • Critical Annoyance: Only in the Mantel section of the game, though.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Mantel's operations are entirely dependent on covering up likely hundreds of soldiers dying from Nectar overdosage and kill orders on anyone that finds out the truth, and every soldier they have being so addicted to the stuff that they'd never question orders or even consider risking withdrawal, with the implication that even Duvall's team were just another disposable asset thrown Merino's way. Somehow none of their war strategies ever considered the possibility of a turncoat surviving withdrawal to take them down with their acquired internal knowledge.
  • 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.
  • Dueling Games: With Blacksite Area 51, another FPS as noted for its Anvilicious politics.
    • Ubisoft, to Free Radical's chagrin, tried to hype Haze as a "Halo-killer", deliberately setting the game against Halo 3, which also released in 2007, on the opposing console to Haze.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite the fact that he mows down scores of Promise Hand soldiers during the game's first half, Shane is still welcomed with open arms when he defects to their side. The first Promised Hand soldier assigned to work with him is rather cold towards Shane given he was a jackbooted Mantel thug just a couple hours ago, but once his Mantel bodycount equals his Rebel one the Rebels are all buddy-buddy with him.
  • Elite Mooks: Mantel Black Ops/Spec 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've got almost twice the durability of standard troops, better aim, don't have the immature frat boy comm chatter the regular troops do, and are immune to Nectar overdose mechanics. 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: And ally chatter.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Since enemies only drop ammo for their own guns, you're best off using the guns of the opposing faction rather than your own if you want to stay stocked up on ammo. While playing as Mantel your ammo does mysteriously replenish itself to full when using your alternate weapon, though this may not be reliable, and as a rebel you can scavenge ammo for whatever gun you're carrying by looting enemy guns manually, but this is tedious and time consuming while grabbing ammo from dropped weapons that match your own is fast and automatic.
  • 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. Unfortunately, the Everything Fades aspect is also possibly not done well, as some of the enemies don't disappear upon death, just lose their highlighting.
  • Failure Hero: Shane.
  • Fantastic Drug: Nectar. A performance enhancing drug that hides the realities of war and ultimately kills you.
  • Foreshadowing: About as thick as one can lay it on. From the opening it's clear that something's just a little off with your comrades, and the first mission establishes things are not right with the Mantel occupation. Despite the advertising trying to hide it, the fact that the Heel–Face Turn the player undergoes halfway through isn't even given spoiler tags should tell you how blatantly obvious the game signals Mantel being evil.
  • For the Evulz: Mantel is from the Umbrella school of corporate decision making.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Not here, though Rebels are ridiculously tough and enter a "dying" state where they can be revived.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: 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; instead Shane uses the reflex window as a sort of rear sight to align the front iron sights. Oddly, this exact error was also in Haze's cousin Blacksite. The guns in Haze in general are deliberately made "incorrectly" and not based on existing firearms; the 3D modeler in charge of making them found the increasing realism with which firearms were being depicted in games at the time to be disturbing and distasteful, stating he didn't want a 12-year old to learn how to operate an AK-47 from playing his game.
  • Hand Cannon: The Mantel pistol is almost as powerful 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, leading to gaping plot holes and inconsistencies. One character even refers to it as "performance enhancer, anti-depressant, whatever."
  • Harder Than Hard: Very Hard difficulty; enemies have about twice as much health or more, much better aim, and deal more damage. The game also removes your crosshair except for the Mantel zoom function. At long range the game is still manageable, but you die almost instantly if an enemy shoots you at close range or in the back. Ironically, on this difficulty the game feels more like the intended experience; as a Mantel trooper, you're reliant on your Nectar powers to overcome your enemies, and as a Rebel squirrelly survival tactics and assistance from your squad become mandatory as trying to just go toe-to-toe and trade damage with a bullet-spongy super-soldier just results in you getting mowed down and them using your corpse as an outhouse.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Besides the Elite Mooks, Mantel shotgun troopers and rocket troopers have extra armor that lets them survive close to double damage. On Normal difficulty this just means they take a few more bullets to put down, but on Very Hard difficulty they become frustrating bullet-sponges that require a couple dozen rounds to put down if you don't manage a headshot.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: The main Mantel troopers in Shane's squad, Duvall, Peshy, and Watchstrap, don't wear helmets while every other Mantel trooper does. Shane presumably wears a helmet as a Mantel trooper since it features heavily in his HUD, but he loses it and all its functionality (including a built-in scope zoom) once he switches sides.
  • 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, and intentional.
  • 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. This is most likely a side-effect of balance scaling, since on the highest difficulty snipers have better aim and kill you in 1 shot.
  • 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 4-5 bullets and even the Elite Mooks only take 6-8 bullets to kill.
  • Metaphorgotten: Nectar is either one for oil or propaganda. It's unclear which.
  • Mega-Corp: Mantel.
  • Mirror Character: 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."
  • 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.
  • Obviously Evil: Mantel.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted; if you turn on subtitles, the name "George Miller" pops up repeatedly throughout the game; as your first helicopter pilot, the only non-Black Ops soldier hunting you in the swamp, a Mantel soldier who taunts you in the ship after starting to sink it, and a Mantel soldier who commits suicide after you destroy the central Nectar controller. Unlike most plot-unimportant names in the game, "George Miller" is not randomly generated and shows up in every playthrough. Though, it is possible it's all the same guy, which would make him something of an Unknown Rival.
  • 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 a surprisingly good one toward the end.
  • 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 Frisky Dingo's Xtacles.
  • Sniper Pistol: All your weapons have a scope zoom function, presumably built into your suit, while playing as a Mantel trooper. This combined with the Handcannon nature of the Mantel pistol makes it essentially a sniper rifle. Though this becomes much less viable on the Harder Than Hard difficulty as enemies' increased health means it takes at minimum 2 shots to put them down.
  • 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: All over the place for Mantel.
  • Title Drop: Headquarters: "Copy that. Carpenter is a Code Haze."
  • 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.
    • Mantel troops themselves qualify as well, almost on purpose. They're so gung-ho and lack any real strategy or planning that they'd sooner bumrush the enemy and hope to gun them all down left and right than bother with thinking it through. They're not only dumb as a brick and can't seem to hit the broad side of a barn, but Shane without a shred of nectar can dismantle their primary forces singlehandedly, implying the only reasons they hadn't lost beforehand were due to the high numbers game of willing recruits and the inexperience of the Rebels.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: All cutscenes take place from Shane's perspective, and the game also makes a point of not magically teleporting you to new locations between levels; when you're required to go to a new area of the country, you either get there by helicopter (and experience the whole ride), or actually have to drive or walk there in gameplay. Other than in the middle of the game where Shane loses consciousness a couple of times, the entire game's narrative is essentially an unbroken real-time experience.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Once you're taken off Nectar, you'll see unmasked Mantel troopers like Duvall have corpse-pale skin and tiny red sores around their face, in contrast to the healthy appearance Nectar makes you perceive them as. This emphasizes that Nectar slowly kills its users, and makes the Mantel troopers more resemble soldiers of the Combine or the Helghast rather than the U.S. Military.
  • Universal Ammunition: As a Rebel, with a button press, you can take ammo from any gun on the ground to replenish your current gun's supply, even if you're using an assault rifle and the gun on the ground is a shotgun.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Rebels can roll around as one of their special abilities. It really doesn't help them much. You can do this yourself once you join the Rebels as a dodge move.
  • Vague Hit Points: As a Mantel trooper, you have a health bar in your helmet HUD that tells you exactly how much health you have. Once you lose your helmet and switch sides, this disappears and the game relies on the usual Call of Duty style bloody screen, so real to let you know you're injured.
  • Videogame 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. Also, the flamethrower is disproportionally more dangerous to you than the enemies, since being caught on fire requires you to extinguish yourself with the Playstation sixaxis, whose detection is rather finicky in this game.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Platoon: Duvall is Barnes, Shane is Taylor, Teare is Grodin.
  • War Is Hell: The real theme of the game; war is more of a drug than Nectar could ever be. Even Merino can't get away from it.