Warhead is supposed to be a bit more action oriented than Crysis, and the game truly delivers on that account. The game uses themes from classic 80s action movies like the conflict between Western coalition and Communist countries, but is of course spiced up by the presence of alien invaders and futuristic technology. Crysis, also a first person shooter, was more mysterious and adventure oriented, as an important part of the plot was the unrevealing of the alien presence. You fought your way through the island, without really knowing who or what you were up against. Now that the cat is out of the box, Crysis Warhead delivers the action!
The story is basically a side story to the original campaign of Crysis, and we now get to command one of the more noteworthy characters from the original Crysis. - The foulmouthed rebel with a British accent Sgt. Sykes aka “Psycho”. As we follow the events of Psycho in this action packed stand alone expansion, we get to battle through different landscapes of jungle and ice, which look even better than in Crysis. Nomad was more of a tactical rational character, while Psycho is more of a rebel that plays by his own rules to get the job done. Psycho is a badass with morals though, like when he stops one of his mates from killing a captured unarmed Korean soldier:
He was unarmed, and there are some rules that I do follow.
This is a character difference, rather than a gaming difference, as they do not differ when you play the characters, but a nice difference none the less. Psycho´s story is more personal and emotional than that of Nomad, and it even has some darker streaks to it, as the events unfold. During the game we get to know some of Psychos history, and past events comes back to haunt him.
From early on in the game Psycho starts hunting a container, which the North Koreans try to ship off the Island. The games antagonist is the cruel North Korean general Colonel Lee, who is in charge of getting the container off the island, and responsible for an ambush on Psycho and his men. These two characters face each other on several occasions, but all of these meetings are played through cut scenes. This is good for the story, but you feel a bit cheated as a player. During the hunt on the container both gets attacked by the aliens, who also seem to be interested in the container. The hunt takes you through villages, harbors, military installations, a mine, an airfield and most note worthy on a long train ride through the jungle. At his side, or rather in the air, Psycho has his sidekick O'Neill, who was originally suggested to be part of Psychos team some years back, but fail to make the cut. The continuous dialogs between these two and the operations central make the story feel alive and personal.
Having played the original campaign you quickly emerge yourself into the story and the game play, but it might take a bit longer for those of you who have not played Crysis. You do get some flashbacks from what occurred in the beginning of the original campaign, but I guess those might feel a bit fragmented and out of context. I have personally completed both games, and there are still gaps in the story which will probably be filled in as the story continues in later Crysis games, after all it is supposed to be a trilogy (not counting Warhead).
The progress of the story feels a bit more forced and linear as there are quite a lot of cut scenes and battles. You basically battle your way through to the next area, where you get a new objective and a slice of the story. If you like this or not is quite a matter of personal taste I guess, but I preferred the more mysterious and slow story in Crysis. To claim that the original Crysis was “open” is an exaggeration at best, but the maps felt bigger, which opened up for different tactical choices, even though you still had to get to from point A to B, to get the story rolling.
Crysis: Warhead is a first person shooter, and at the center of the game is your Nano suit which can enhance your characters features. This feature is a great way to customize the game for different type of gamers. You can for instance use the stealth mode to sneak up on your opposition and kill them quietly or use the Shield mode, where you can take more punches while you take down your opposition. There are also a strength mode and a speed mode that you can use in different combat situations. This creates a great replay value for the game, because you will have to excel in different types of gaming techniques, depending on which modes you use. The weaponry is quite varied and the weapons themselves can be combined with new scopes, silencers, ammunition etc. Together with the Nano suit modes this creates a really good customization feature for your character. A new scope might for instance suddenly make an “old” weapon more useful than one that you pick up later in the game. This is one of the greatest features of the Crysis series, as it fun to check out the new upgrades during the game, and use them to perfect your tactical approach.
The game play in itself is really just more of the same things that you got in Crysis, but it is well executed, and in a more intense tempo. You basically move through the landscapes killing your opponents, to get to a specific area, where you get a new objective to move towards. Sometimes this is easiest to do by vehicles, and sometimes by foot. I found the game to be a bit easier than the original Crysis, and considering the short single player campaign, maybe it would have been better to make it a bit harder. You can of course set the game to a higher level from the beginning, so it is not a big problem.
There are three new human weapons in the game, The AY69 Micro machine gun, and the FGL40 Automatic grenade launcher. The Last weapon is called PAX, but I will not give away too much of it, as it is part of the story. No spoilers here! Both the regular weapons work well, and it is always nice to have more weapons at your disposal, even though you do not really need them that much. I found the grenade launcher to be quite effective when used to lay out a barrage of grenades, in an area with lots of enemies. The vehicles seem to be more realistic now, but they still feel a bit cartoony, like in the battlefield series. One good thing is that steering of, for instance, a car is actually affected by the damage that has been dealt to it. Two banged up wheels make it harder to maneuver, as it should.
The game itself has been upgraded graphically and it runs smoother and looks even more beautiful than the original Crysis, which is quite a feat. This is supposedly due to an enhanced and optimized version of the CryEngine 2. I was able to run the game on a higher detail setting than with the original Crysis, which was nice. The game generally runs really well, even though the AI seems to have some problems at sometimes. Your enemies can not see you sometimes, even though you are standing right in front of them, and when fired upon from a distance, they can usually not find out where you are. This was annoying in the original Crysis, and I had hoped that it should have been fixed by now, but apparently they have not. It makes the whole sniper experience less fun, because there is not much of a challenge in it. The game also crashed to windows a few times, but the great autosave function in the game compensates well for this. Usually you just loose a couple of minutes of game play, and the game runs really good most of the time.
The audio and music is good and the contrasts between hard rock riffs and more ethnical music creates a good blend of background music for a marine fighting in Southern Asia. When moving around on the island you experience different ambient noise, and the jungle really feel alive when you move through it. There is a nice echo when you move through the mines, and you can hear the voices bounce of the walls. Sometimes the Korean enemies shout a bit too much, and you can usually detect an enemy when he gets close, because he starts shouting when firing at you. This is kind of annoying as the whole idea with sneaking up on someone is to be quiet. If they just fired it would be a bit harder locating them, thus making them more deadly. The sound effects are really nice all through the game, and the explosions sounds thick and full. There is a lot of dialog in the game, when you are moving around, which is nice as you never get bored. The dialog and voice acting is cheesy in a good way, which fits action genre really well, and it is always fun to hear cursing in British!
Fantastic graphics, which you have come to expect from the Crytek studios.
It is a great price for a beautiful and fun game, considering it also contains Crysis Wars.
Stand alone! I honestly do not understand why they do not make more expansions “stand alone” They are effectively blocking out a large portion of the market by not making expansions as stand alone.
Short single player campaign
This is a great game package, for a great price. It will not disappoint any Crysis fans or new players, but it might leave them wanting more!
PC Computer requirements:
OS: Windows Vista/XP, CPU: XP-2,8 Ghz or faster Vista-3,2 Ghz or faster, Memory: 1GB Ram & 14 GB free hard drive space, Video card: Nvidia Geforce 6800GT or greater, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro(Radeon X800 Pro for Vista) or greater.