|PS2, GC, Xbox
| The Good
Lots of variety in levels
Solidly built with great frame rate
Fine musical score
| The Bad
Some elements are not as polished as others
Yo-yo weapon is poorly executed
NPCs look and sound ugly
When Midway and Traveller's Tales started the PR for their
adventure/platformer title while it was in development, they
touted it as this hugely ambitious title in which the player
could grab a car, boat or ship during any part of a level
and ride around. Rather than just sticking to the easy formula,
their ambitious goals of creating a fully seamless world,
like a platformer version of Grand Theft
Auto, were interesting and promising.
The story begins as the main character Haven has prophetic
dreams of a Golden Bell. He and his people are slaves to the
evil Vetch, who has commanded them for many years to do his
work. On top of that, Vetch rations out an antidote that keeps
the people alive as they've all been infected by a virus to
keep them submissive. Vetch learns of Haven's dreams and wishes
to have his henchmen deal with the slave.
While there are a number of other gameplay aspects incorporated
into Haven, the main heart of the game is its platforming
segments. Haven himself has the standard range of abilities,
including the double jump and a "butt-bump"-style jumping
attack. He also has a shield, which can be powered up with
blue energy, and a yo-yo weapon. You'll find that the blue
magnetic energy is important to powering up other parts of
the game, including opening gates, giving Haven temporary
invisibility or a round pinball-like barrier to get through
certain areas. From time to time, you'll be able to locate
energy packs that allows Haven to shoot lasers for a limited
period of time, either on the run or in first person mode.
The yo-yo itself is Haven's main weapon, and can be used to
attack enemies and all sorts of barrels. Platformer fans will
find a number of familiar elements borrowed from other games
in the genre. From time to time, you'll have the "run towards
the camera while jumping and dodging" platformer scenario
from the Crash Bandicoot series.
Alongside the platforming are various other segments, most
of which are linked to story events. If Haven jumps onto a
train to go from one location to another, expect him to act
as the tailgunner, firing at enemies as the train moves along.
Need to cross a lake, grab a nearby boat. Spaceships and jetpacks
are also available for use as the need dictates. While these
additional segments are a nice change of pace, most feel underdeveloped
in comparison to the main platforming segments.
You'll find that a major aspect of Haven is collecting,
whether it be collecting cogs to activate machinery or colored
feathers to call your mechanical bird, which will allow you
to move onto the next stage, or just picking up enough antidote
pellets to stay alive. Picking up blue energy is fairly necessary
on its own for both your shield and to activate certain areas
just to move on. Don't be surprised to have to backtrack just
get more blue energy just to pass on. Luckily, both the antidote
and blue energy regenerate on such a regular basis, you shouldn't
have too much trouble getting either.
Visually, the game seems to use the same design and look
as fellow platformers Jak & Daxter
and Ratchet & Clank. The
levels are bright and fairly large, with a nice bit of environmental
detail. While the basic engine seems to be put together well
and runs at a great framerate, the minor and often more important
aspects seem lackluster and unpolished. Most of the NPCs look
ugly and a lot of the game's textures are blurry or just uninteresting.
Some of the parts of each location feel unfinished or unconnected.
In some locations you may even find rocks and debris almost
floating above the ground and at times, Haven himself looks
like he's floating on air as he runs.
One of the finer aspects of the game is the soundtrack, which
is well done and feels exceptionally appropriate for the game.
The voice acting is fairly standard, even if some of the nameless
NPCs feel stale. Sound effects are decent, even if they seem
to be taken from the same pool as most of the genre. At times,
though, some of the sound effects seem to lack definition
and can even become annoying. For example - in one scenario
you must help put out fires in a village. At this time, the
game is permeated with incessant wailing that can neither
be identified as the screams of villagers or as a fire siren.
Either way, it grates on the nerves.
One of the biggest complaints I have about the game is that
very little of the gameplay is explained or even given much
in the way of reason. You seem to just be doing stuff to keep
from being bored to death. Also, the mechanics of the yo-yo
are very poorly executed. Often, you'll use it to attack exploding
barrels, but its reach is barely outside the explosion range,
which leaves you either taking a lot of damage unnecessarily
or slowly inching forward to smash them by process of trial
and error. Along with that is that the game is linear to a
fault, removing any of the promised free-roaming aspect of
it. You won't be able to just into a ship or boat unless the
game dictates it.
I'll give Traveller's Tales credit for the effort, even if
they didn't deliver everything promised. Haven isn't
a bad game, but one that needs more polish and some refinement
of its elements. The game gives a good challenge and the various
additional gameplay elements do manage to break up the game
well. It's not as finely realized as some of its competition,
but it should provide a good rental for fans of the genre.