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Haze is disappointing

Metacritic score of 54- are you surprised?

In fact, US website IGN rated it at an abominable 4.5, way below our, or anyone's, worst expectations. What went wrong? We'll offer our explanations below. Or is it a simply a case of GTA4 syndrome - where the world's media fell over themselves to award it the highest mark - in reverse?

Haze's Metacritic score is a shocker.

In fact, you'll notice one mental UK magazine right out on top of the pile - us. Since for our money, Haze is 1) Disappointing to the point of sadness and 2) Not as terrible as the world's knee-jerk media wants you to believe.

While there's a conceptual case to be made, would you really rather play Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian (rated 6.3 on IGN), Toy Home Expansion Pack (5.0) or Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (5.5 - recently described to us as featuring 'little to no gameplay' by an industry figure whose job is promoting the game), than Haze?

It's easy to confuse expectation and disappointment, with broken and wrong. We can't help but feel Haze is a victim of its own over-wrought birth. Developed by the respected folk behind TimeSplitters 2, it feels simply like a game that missed its window of opportunity, making the classic mistake of over-promising, and under-delivering. The core mechanics, as you can read in our review, are solid, but the presentation, pacing, plot and structure (so, er, all of it then) are under-developed. Ironically, given the six month or more delay, it feels rushed. Our suspicion? Free Radical's original vision for the game was altered post-Ubisoft getting involved (hence the iconic, but aggravating, yellow Mantel suits being introduced), the project lost focus and - above all - Free Rad struggled with PS3 on a technical basis. Without a solid technical platform, no game stands a chance (Developer: "So I've got this idea for an amazing set piece? Can we do it? Programmer "No"). The finished game smacks of compromise, or of fulfilling the weight of their own promises - rather than feel obliged to include four-player co-op, perhaps Free Rad should have nailed a perfect single player experience first?

It's a tricky one, and sure to split opinion when the game's finally released on Friday.

What do you think? Were you shocked by Haze's online review scores? Or starting to suspect something was wrong after the delay? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Have a good night,

Dan

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