Multiplayer and Co-op

Most delicious of all is the way that Free Radical has managed to work all these features into both singleplayer and multiplayer. Not only does Haze come with a selection of the usual multiplayer modes, deathmatch, CTF, team games and so on, but it also comes with a co-op campaign.

Co-op isn't a separate beast either - up to four players can team up instantly in split-screen, online or LAN modes. Best of all, players can combine the set and have, for example, two players online and two players playing split screen. Any players jumping into the game will fill the space of Shane's fellow troopers and can drop in and out as the game carries on seamlessly.

While we were hard-pressed to get any details at all out of Rob and Derek about the PC version of the game, they did confirm that Free Radical wouldn't be building cross-platform gaming of any sort into the title. Also, the PS3 version of the game will not support any keyboard and mouse combination, though the machine can use them thanks to extra USB slots (that aren't locked to specific components).

"The PS3 version is optimised for the PS3. The PC version is optimised for the PC. If we start giving PS3 owners the chance to use a keyboard and mouse - which obviously has benefits over the analogue sticks - then it's messing with that and we'd have people playing each other on an unfair basis," Derek explained when I pressed him on the issue.

Haze: Exclusive Hands-On Preview Multiplayer and Co-op
Click for hi-res

The multiplayer modes have also been cunningly structured to accommodate different routes for the different factions; troopers and rebels. "Troopers are very offensive and powerful, but they're restricted to ground level movement mostly and have very specific weaknesses," said Derek, trying to soften the blow that we wouldn't be able to try the multiplayer.

"Rebels meanwhile are a lot less armoured, but have more powers and abilities. They can perform some advanced moves like rolls which allow them to move about on rooftops and use certain shortcuts in the multiplayer levels. There are almost two games here, each with its own gameplay and routes."

The multiplayer side of things is something that Free Radical obviously has a lot of experience with, having been responsible for some of the best console FPS games ever. In fact, Derek was very much involved with Timesplitters 2, the first game in the series that I played and spent many an afternoon playing.

Rest assured then that the multiplayer and co-op options will be incredibly polished and fluid, with a lot of attention obviously going in to making sure that the playing field is level for players of all capabilities.

Haze: Exclusive Hands-On Preview Multiplayer and Co-op
Click for hi-res

Unfortunately, there'll be no map-maker or level editor bundled with the game, so players will be stuck with the original set of maps unless the set is later expanded with extras over PSN. The lack of map editors is no doubt partly to do with the fact that the engine has been developed completely in-house and there's therefore no already available editor.

In fact, the engine doesn't even have a name, even un-officially and Derek refused to even acknowledge it as being referred to as the Haze Engine. Rob however was more forthcoming, chanting the name "Mega-engine!" over and over with almost ritualistic fervour, while Derek rolled his eyes and shook his head, insisting that it's "The Unnamed Free Radical Design Engine Made For Haze."

But, hey, if you wanted to know more about the technical stuff then why didn't you ask? Let's have a chat about those bee-ootiful graphics...
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Week in review