Free Radical wants to make you very uncomfortable
Friday 1 June 2007
Future-war shooter Haze will team you up with some alarmingly outspoken AI comrades, promises David Doak, co-founder of developer Free Radical. Haze's mercenary-military action will put you in some very uncomfortable situations, but if you hesitate for a second your tooled-up soldier 'buddies' are going to be hassling you mercilessly.
"I don't think you will see in any other game points in the narrative, in cut-scenes or cinematic gameplay moments, where people are calling you a ***** - telling you that you're not with the program, that you're a liability to the team," Doak informed us during a refreshingly open discussion at a recent Ubisoft event. "Haze puts in this warzone, where other people are perhaps doing things where a line has been crossed. You're going to think, 'These guys have gone too far'. And you'll have to ask yourself, 'Are you part of this now?'"
But how far is Free Radical willing to go to make Haze the challenging, mature videogame it is aiming for? "The thing is," Doak pointed out, "you come up against the law of censorship, which is incredibly hypocritical when it comes to games. Because the act of putting these uncomfortable, challenging experiences into a game is somehow glorifying it. Except that other media can do such things, and still be having some sensible discourse about it".
Free Radical isn't about to hold back, though. "In Haze there's a lot of NPC reaction speech, a hell of a lot of it, written to a higher quality than Free Radical has ever done before. And also [with Haze] we're less fettered by people telling us 'Oh, no, you can't say ****' - because at the level we're pitching it we can say ****. And that means that what's happening is believable."
"There's all these soldiers running around with you, shooting, taking Nectar". Nectar, remember, is the super-enhancing drug given to Haze's soldiers (and you) by sinister military corporation Mantel. "The soldiers are fighting with you, using Nectar and talking about it all. And they talk about it in a locker room style. But, sometimes, it gets a bit too far. It makes you uncomfortable. And we can achieve that discomfort because of the language we're able to use."
So, we wondered, is Doak happy with the level of censorship in the UK? "I think, in the past, with PEGI and so on it was a case of people playing safe," he answered. "No one wanted to get into trouble by saying something was ok for public consumption, so they just said 'No'."
And now? "I think the BBFC are doing a really good job. If someone's going to be a censor and a guardian of what people see, then that person needs to be wise and responsible."
You can find out more about Free Radical's ambitious Haze project by checking out our recent preview.