War vets doing games is "pretty f***ing bizarre" - Haze writer

Haze tackling war's many shades.

Free Radical Design's Rob Yescombe - writer on upcoming first-person shooter Haze - reckons it's "pretty f***king bizarre" to see war veterans working on videogames.

"There are some shooters that will bring in a war veteran to check and see whether their game is enough like that time all their friends got killed, so they can sell it as entertainment. Which is pretty f***ing bizarre!" Yescombe told us during one of his Haze presentations at UbiDays last month.

"So what we're looking at with Haze thematically is, how are we presenting war as entertainment in videogames? Because, war isn't just black and white and good and evil; there's ambiguity."

Yescombe's comments were particularly interesting taken in the context of UbiDays itself, where Colonel John Antal was promoting Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway, another of Ubisoft's next-gen shooters, with Gearbox Software, on the other side of the room.

Returning to his comments about veterans a little later, Yescombe added: "I'm not saying it's good or it's bad, but it's strange people choose to do that."

"We're not doing a John Wayne war movie; we're trying to do Apocalypse Now. It's not a war-game; it's a game about war."

Haze puts players in the role of a Mantel Corporation trooper on a three-day mission in South America. UbiDays presentations focused on the way players use "Nectar" as the basis for combat skills, but, with narrative a strong focus for the team at Free Radical, another element that drew attention was the way the Mantel helmet the player-character wears appears to "censor" what he sees of combat. When the helmet is turned off, the player is plunged into scenes of gore, destruction and screaming; with it on, things return to a gamey sort of sterility.

Which is not to say things like boring, as they certainly do not. Look out for a full preview of the game later this week, along with features in the next Eurogamer TV Show, to see what we made of it all.

Haze is due out on PlayStation 3 later this year, with other versions known to be in development.

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