Lost in Haze: Free Radical Interview
The creators of the PS3-exclusive shooter talk drugs, guns and new online modes.
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British developer Free Radical is no stranger to success. Back when the team was part of Rare, it created GoldenEye, widely regarded as one of the best games on the Nintendo 64. Since then the team has made its own name known through the TimeSplitters series. But it's the developer's new game, the futuristic first-person shooter Haze for the PlayStation 3, that seems the most ambitious.
Haze is set in a world quite different from our own. It's the year 2048 and the world's security has been placed in the hands of private corporations. The biggest is Mantel, a multinational organization responsible for everything from manufacturing vehicles and weapons to supplying the armed forces that use them.
You play as Shane Carpenter, a member of Mantel on an operation in South America, where a rebel faction known as the Promised Hand is causing the local government trouble. Shane and his squad are sent in, which is right about where you come in.
Mantel troopers are among the best in the world, largely because of a mysterious drug known as Nectar. This drug is available to troopers on command, giving them superhuman abilities when the need arises. Hopped up on Nectar, you'll be more accurate, faster and stronger than any opponent you'll face. You'll also be able to pick the rebels out of the South American jungle foliage more easily thanks to advanced targeting, which causes them to glow against the background.
Nectar's not without its problems, as David Doak, co-founder of Free Radical, explains. "When you're taking Nectar, it changes the way you see the world," he says. What you see with your blinkered vision is a blurry, sanitized version of the world as Mantel wants you to see it, not necessarily as it exists.
"Sometimes you'll have these kind of bad trip moments where you suddenly see that the conflict you're involved in is much more violent than you previously thought," he adds.
Just like any other drug, Nectar can be abused. During an overdose, troopers lose all control of themselves and can go on rampages. "If you take too much Nectar, your view of the world goes a little bit kill-crazy - you just want to kill everyone," Doak says.
The interesting part about Nectar is how it forms a crucial part of gameplay and how important it is to the flow of the story. As Shane comes to learn more about Mantel and its place in the world, he comes to see the corporation for what he is. That's when he switches sides.