Crysis, the first one, was an odd game in a way. Well, odd in storyline buildup that is. You’re fighting your way through the jungle, besting hordes of Koreans and aliens, and in the end you blow a gigantic alien vehicle back to its maker. When you then put on your toughguy suit, ready to kick some alien ass, the only thought in your mind being “payback”… it’s quite a disappointment to see credits rolling over your screen. Quite the anti-climax.
In Crysis Warhead you can once again kill aliens to heart’s content. This time in the suit of sergeant ‘Psycho’ Sykes. This is not the sequel where you get to kick the aliens back to their homeplanet though. The events in Warhead namely take place at the same time as those in the original Crysis. Disappointment? Not necessarily. Cevat Yerli, Crytek CEO, let know (sadly enough only after Crysis was done) that Crysis would spawn a trilogy.
So, just as in Crysis you start the story with battling the Koreans. This time around, after a short intro, you’re thrown right into the action. While dodging artillery grenades you get a “Crysis movement 101″ course. You’ll soon be ready to make your first steps in the game’s exotic jungle. Just as in Crysis the controls are fairly intuitive meaning there’s the regular “wasd” setup (customisable as you please) and then there are the nanosuit controls, all very quickly mastered.
This nanosuit is actually a technological marvel. The suit has four modes. Speed, strength, armor and cloak. Each of these functions uses energy which gets automatically replenished except when using cloak mode. The speed mode turns you into a roadrunner-like rocket, sadly enough running around like this will deplete your energy supply rather quickly after which you’ll have to wait to be able to run again. Then there’s strength mode where you can destroy whole walls of houses with a single lightning punch. The beauty of strength mode is that it’ll also make you aim more accurately and control recoil a lot better. Additionally there’s the armor mode where your suit will absorb the punch of incoming bullets. Last but not least there’s the cloak mode. In this configuration you’re nearly invisible, pretty nifty if you want to infiltrate a hostile base. Because cloak mode functions constantly your suit’s energy supply won’t replenish when it’s active. By crouching or going prone you can decrease the rate at which your energy is consumed though.
As always, the devil is in the details. As such there are various interacted lifeforms like birds, turtles, crabs, etc. Personally my favorite detail is the radio news broadcast on the events taking place at the island you’re at. Immersion grearly improves the quality of a game. Just like Crysis also Warhead got impressive graphics. Improvements in the engine make sure the game runs a lot smoother. Whether or not there’s more graphcal detail is hard to say but in any case everything looks very well designed. An exotic beach bathing in the sun, a rainy and dark jungle, and yes, a windy snowy plain, Warhead has it all. No matter where you are, whatever you fight, what you get to see is the finest gaming has to offer.
One of the selling points of Far Cry, then Crysis, and now also Crysis Warhead is the freedom those games offer. You’re not being forced to take a certain route in the gameworld. On the contrary, the map is your only guideline, the only requirement is that you arrive at your objective. Whether you cross the jungle, roam the plains (if there are), or simply follow the trail in the woods, it’s all free to choose. This way the replay value of the game is improved significantly. You can redo a level, only taking a different path this time. As such it’s also hard to say if the game is long or short, it all depends on the route the player chooses.
This freedom’s not in every level however. It are mainly the wide and open outside environments where you can run around at random. Inside, this route is much more guided. Still pretty subtle though, and maybe you can reach the same place through two different corridors, but there are more limitations. But, contrary to the original Crysis, there are no confusing levels. It all plays out intuitively and the path to take is obvious, you’re not likely to get lost anytime soon. So you needn’t worry that you’ll end up spending 30 minutes in a disorienting alien rock trying to get out like in Crysis numero uno.
So much for the single player. The multiplayer in Warhead is something new as well, but then is in similar vein to Crysis the first. This multiplayer is even so radically differing from the singleplayer that it comes on a different disc, and even has a different name. Crysis Wars is how it has been dubbed and it offers some interesting possibilities.
Very simplistically you could state Crysis Wars is a bit Battlefield meets Counter Strike. You’re going to have to conquer points on the map, and have to buy weapons just like in those games. That’s where similarities end though. The controle points you capture in Crysis Wars also have a direct impact on the continuation of the multiplayer session. It’s not merely a spawnpoint, on the contrary.
For example there’s a vehicle factory you can capture (where you can’t spawn, mind you).There you can build vehicles ranging from your average jeep to the more interesting flavors of tanks. These are bought the same way you buy your weapons. When you capture a research facility or the likes you maybe can buy a new weapon there. Or maybe you can unlock a new and more advanced type of tank at the vehicle factory. It’s actually pretty nifty.
So then, to recap the pros and cons, and finish with a conclusion:
Crysis Warhead is a well finished product, something which isn’t at all common these days. Furthermore, the game is readily accessible, in the end it’s still a shooter, albeit with added value and more variety. Crytek has obviously learned from the sharp edges of Crysis. Shame the game is on the short side though. For all the fastpaced and intense action you’re offered the fun’s over quickly. You shouldn’t really expect a continuation of the story of Crysis. In all honesty the game feels a bit like an add-on. A very good add-on though. Fans of the genre will love Warhead. It’s a genuine improvement on Crysis. The player looking for lots of hours of gaming fun may feel cheated though. But maybe the expansive multiplayer can offer some consolation there.