The Game That Killed Its Own Studio – The Tragedy of Haze

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Founded in 1999 by former Rare developers who served as creative forces on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, developer Free Radical Design built what many consider among the most inventive first-person shooters of the 2000s. The TimeSplitters series especially set the world on fire with exciting time travel elements. Free Radical’s subsequent project, Second Sight, brought its own unique brand of thrilling gameplay to the table as well, courtesy of various psychic mechanics. The Nottingham-based group tried pushing the envelope further when designing Haze, a PlayStation 3 exclusive primarily remembered for playing a role in the studio’s collapse.

Haze didn’t bear the look of an ill-fated project in the years leading up to its May 2008 release. On the contrary, Free Radical and publisher Ubisoft never seemed anything less than proud of the first-person shooter’s progress. And apart from minor technical concerns months before launch, previews and other public showings were met with predominantly positive reception.

Free Radical possessed the right ingredients—a world-renowned development team known for producing seminal experiences, the backing of a major publisher, and a gameplay hook that married well with an intriguing futuristic plot. Unfortunately, technical shortcomings and other circumstances beyond the developers’s control greatly hindered their ability to deliver the final product as promised. Players instead found themselves navigating a stale experience that failed to uphold the standards established across Free Radical’s otherwise stellar pedigree. At its core, then, Haze constituted the result of a talented team doing its best with the inferior hand it was dealt.

This is the tragedy of Haze.

0:00 Intro
01:59 Sponsorship
03:08 Shifting Tides
05:25 Growing Pains
07:36 A Game About War
10:58 Halo Killer

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