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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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a mobile helicopter carrier.
  • Banana Republic: The goal Of Mantel is to secure the region and make the natives 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: And ally chatter.
  • 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. 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, leading to gaping plot holes and inconsistencies.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Universal Ammunition: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.