So apparently the rules changed, so please rate this review of Crysis Warhead, as seen on ve3tro.
Crysis was by far one of the most popular and talked about PC games of last year. Developer Crytek is treating its fans to a second helping, not in the form of a sequel but a standalone add-on with proper multiplayer and a new campaign.
Following Psycho, a surviving soldier on Raptor team originally sent to investigate the events of Crysis, the campaign is a mediocre dessert with excellent toppings. The story itself is petty at best, introducing all-too-useful character Sean O’Neil, a failed Raptor-team operative who assists Psycho on every occasion required. Warhead follows the events of Crysis loosely. Instead of actually showing simultaneous actions between games (such as reliving identical battles from a different perspective), players are treated to a completely separate recollection of events.
While not wrong, the lack of connection between Warhead and the original in terms of story is mildly disappointing. Warhead’s story is of Psycho’s adventure on the Island, not including his moments in the original Crysis. Psycho, the British SAS Lieutenant known for arguing plenty with squad leader Prophet and having a punctual attitude, is not a dramatic character.
At best, he’s the comic relief, which makes the cinematic experience Crytek aimed for so much more difficult to bear. Scenes of him arguing with O’Neil and his superior officers are overacted, and dramatic scenes tend to be nonsensical and over the top. Crysis was fine with a limited, hidden story; Warhead suffers from too much from the wrong people.
Improvements over the original are easy to spot, such as smoother graphics, better audio, and excelled gameplay. Crysis tended to require far too much horsepower than most PC’s could muster, and indeed today’s machines still have difficulty handling Warhead, even a year later. The difference is that with today’s mid-range videocards, Warhead will both run and look great without sacrificing much.
Running on a 2.4GHz Quad Core Q6294, 2GB of RAM and a 9294GT @512MB on Vista, I can run Warhead at High settings and it looks and runs great, like the original on High settings. Why the nomenclature for graphical settings has changed to such call signs as “Enthusiast” and “Gamer” for Warhead and “Best Visuals” and “Good Performance” for Wars is beyond this reviewer.
Regardless, the steady 24FPS for the given settings is both surprising and endearing; anyone willing to invest at least $100 into a videocard can run Warhead at a reasonable resolution and graphical setting, and it will still look excellent.
Indeed, Warhead and Wars both run exceptionally well due to their graphics engine optimization, which runs great on both NVIDIA and ATI cards. It’s been optimized specifically for the 9800GT, NVIDIA’s current flagship and the powerhouse in the Crysis PC, but the 4870×2 can and will run it just as adequately, if not better.
Yet even on a mid-range machine it looked and played wonderfully. Graphics are only part of the improvement; Crytek went through every single complaint that players and journalists had with the original and worked on it. No more Koreans who can’t swim, better AI, more ‘alien’ Alien reactions and more. The only thing that hasn’t improved is the story and dialog.
Along with the 6-8 hour campaign is Crysis Wars, which takes everything from Crysis multiplayer and improves upon it. Players enjoy a fully nano-suit wearing experience, fighting both beside and against friends as either Raptor operatives or Korean Special Forces. Both use identical powers (armor, speed, strength and cloak), and besides the flashier Korean uniforms, there is no difference between the two factions.
While the gameplay isn’t as fast as we’d like, it certainly has its high points with an excellent set of maps and gameplay features that are widely varied. Using the nano-suit abilities alone makes it worth a try. The use of powers easily intensifies and compliments standard gameplay. Busy firefights can be disrupted by a single cloaked enemy, few areas are out of reach from snipers, and no cover is truly invulnerable. The sheer number of different tactics to employ during any battle makes for a unique and challenging experience.
The maps available are mainly for relatively close-quarters combat. Only one map is made specifically for vehicular combat, though vehicles are particularly weak against a properly armed soldier as expected. Several wearing nano-suits makes all but the strongest vehicles behave like explosive toys. Points are awarded to players who not only rake in many kills, but the more unique, the better. Expect throwing an exploding barrel at opponents to give a lot more points than a bullet to the head.
From our time playing Crysis Wars, it’s obvious that because it isn’t the typical FPS multiplayer experience, it may be daunting to those who haven’t beaten the campaign on at least the Hard difficulty setting. Some maps and gametypes tend to require more than most players can muster as well, and only the most battle-hardened veterans will be able to fully use everything to their advantage. This is not an easy game to pick up on, but when you do, it becomes incredibly fun. It also runs remarkably well, just like Warhead, so worrying about your internet connection will come before whether your machine can run the game.
Crysis Warhead is an excellent buy at only $29.99. For the single player campaign and Crysis Wars, new badass weapons and the same open gameplay we’ve come to love, this is a deal made in heaven, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Crysis Warhead is just as beautiful as Crysis, but this time won’t melt your PC. It’s still a year ahead of most other games, so don’t expect anything but a top-of-the-line machine to run it at full.
With nearly everything in Warhead destructible, the sounds are remarkably well done, from bullets hitting trees to rustling bushes to epic explosions. The soundtrack doesn’t match its predecessor though.
Crysis had excellent gameplay. More of it is all anyone could ever hope for. The extra work done on it to ensure realism and playability are excellent.
Unlike most games, Warhead (and Crysis) have that open-world environment that allows players to go and do whatever they want to accomplish their goals, and the nano-suit powers provide the perfect tools to accomplish almost anything you can imagine.
Online gameplay has been improved dramatically, with added maps, gametypes, weapons and more. The amount of gametypes and maps is mediocre, but Crytek has promised more as free downloads in the future.
Graphics Sound Gameplay Fun Factor Online
10.0 9.0 9.5 9.5 8.5
• Improved Multiplayer
• Optimized Graphics Engine
• Low Price
• Poor Campaign Story
• Mediocre Acting
• Somewhat Limited Multiplayer
Overall: 9.2 (out of 10) Excellent