What We're NOT Playing -- Volume 33 (Sorry 'Haze' and 'SingStar')

'Haze'2008 has been hyped as the year of the PlayStation 3, but one of the year's biggest PS3 exclusives, "Haze", won't be getting much love from Stephen Totilo or myself.

In an otherwise slow week, I ponder whether "SingStar" has enough to pull me away from "Rock Band" and we debate why I'm obsessed with finishing games I start -- even if I don't like them.

PatrickKlepek: "The World Ends With You" is next on my handheld list. I'm on a Square Enix streak lately, having finished "Kingdom Hearts 2," "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles," and "Crisis Core" in the last few months.

PatrickKlepek: Of course, two of those I finished out of an obsessive tick, rather than because I wanted to.

StephenTotilo: I was going to say, do you not regret finishing any of the three?

PatrickKlepek: I regret wasting my time with them. I don't regret finishing them. I have this thing about not finishing games I've started. It's the same thing with movies, games, books.

StephenTotilo: So do I, but I also have this thing with realizing how 25 hours of my life were spent doing repetitive tasks that the makers of "Portal," "God of War" and "Call of Duty 4" didn't seem to think I had to do

StephenTotilo: Rare is the game that benefits from 10 or more hours of single-player campaign

Read on to find out why "Haze" isn't on our to-do list.

StephenTotilo: So Patrick, once a week we state the cold hard truths about What We're Not Playing. And today, I must reveal that I have not opened my copy of "Haze."

PatrickKlepek: You're not alone on that one.

StephenTotilo: There was a time when I really wanted to play this game.

PatrickKlepek: My copy is to my left right now, yet I've felt absolutely no impulse to pick it up.

StephenTotilo: And you'd think that this "slow period" of game releases would make it possible for me to give it a go.

PatrickKlepek: I was really hyped for it, too. It's doing some interesting things narratively that drive right into the gameplay. Then, I played it for 20 minutes at Leipzig last year.

'Haze'

StephenTotilo: But on top of all the reasons you're probably finding for not playing it, I have an extra:

StephenTotilo: The main gameplay gimmick, as far as I can tell, involves super-soldiers getting powered up by something called Nectar, a substance that if used too much can hurt or kill them.

StephenTotilo: Funnily enough a major Nintendo Wii game last year introduced this same gameplay mechanic in its final level last year -- and did it quite well. (Should I spoil which one?)

StephenTotilo: So I'm let with the feeling of having been there and done that.

PatrickKlepek: "Haze" is one of those games that I've almost seen too much of. At one point, I was hyped, but the delays tossed it off my radar in a "Grand Theft Auto IV," "Boom Blox," "Wii Fit" world.

PatrickKlepek: Unless word-of-mouth picks up, I can't see me popping it in.

PatrickKlepek: But the word-of-mouth hasn't been pretty, four-player online co-op or not.

PatrickKlepek: Me? I'm passing on "SingStar" this week, but only because Sony neglected to send me any microphones with the game. Even still, I'm not sure how long it will keep my attention, with "Rock Band" around.

PatrickKlepek: The store is far, far bigger than anything "Rock Band" is offering, however.

StephenTotilo: "SingStar" would be fun if I had any desire to sing.

PatrickKlepek: You don't want to be a YouTube sensation?

"Rare is the game that benefits from 10 or more hours of single-player campaign"

StephenTotilo: I may already be a YouTube sensation, Patrick

StephenTotilo: I should confess (like I didn't in my diary already) that I'm neglecting my beloved "The World Ends With You"

PatrickKlepek: "The World Ends With You" is next on my handheld list. I'm on a Square Enix streak lately, having finished "Kingdom Hearts 2," "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles," and "Crisis Core" in the last few months.

PatrickKlepek: Of course, two of those I finished out of an obsessive tick, rather than because I wanted to.

StephenTotilo: I was going to say, do you not regret finishing any of the three?

PatrickKlepek: I regret wasting my time with them. I don't regret finishing them. I have this thing about not finishing games I've started. It's the same thing with movies, games, books.

StephenTotilo: So do I, but I also have this thing with realizing how 25 hours of my life were spent doing repetitive tasks that the makers of "Portal," "God of War" and "Call of Duty 4" didn't seem to think I had to do

PatrickKlepek: For example, I have every intention of finishing "Resistance" and "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," which I both dropped halfway through. I'll resume them when their sequels are near.

StephenTotilo: Rare is the game that benefits from 10 or more hours of single-player campaign

PatrickKlepek: It's also likely not a coincidence you just cited three American-developed single-player experiences, and my complaints stem from traditional Japanese experiences.

StephenTotilo: Good call! Back to "Haze" for a minute: the thing that may pull me back is that the developers said they wanted to have an edgy story. Maybe they even said it would be anti-war or something? I love testing games on those kinds of standards.

StephenTotilo: Which is one reason I cheerfully barreled through "Lair" and gave "Area 51: Black Site" an honest effort

'Lair'

PatrickKlepek: Despite how much I loved "Deus Ex," I couldn't bring myself to try Harvey Smith's "Black Site."

PatrickKlepek: Why are these interesting narratives (even if they're misfires) finding themselves in average games?

StephenTotilo: Well, you called them "interesting narratives." I didn't.

StephenTotilo: I like the potential that's there. The execution -- and the integration into good gameplay -- hasn't happened yet. Not that I can tell.

PatrickKlepek: Interesting attempts at narrative uniqueness, maybe.

StephenTotilo: But if it helps publishers out there, I'm just saying that if you sell me on the idea that a game has an edgy or politically activist story, I will check your game out -- just to see how you did.

PatrickKlepek: Sounds like you would have enjoyed David Jaffe's canned "Heartland."

StephenTotilo: Sure would have! Thanks for nothing, Jaffe.

PatrickKlepek: I still don't know why he wanted that on PSP, though.

PatrickKlepek: Maybe because it would have been too realistic on PS3.

PatrickKlepek: Those feelings are certainly why I feel "Grand Theft Auto IV" fails as an encouraging sandbox.

StephenTotilo: And on that cliffhanger... Patrick, that sound I hear is the endlessly insatiable Multiplayer blog growling to be fed with a Diary post. May I leave you be and write it now?

PatrickKlepek: Permission granted.