Crysis Warhead

Warhead is no less than mandatory for anyone who claims to love the series, or even the genre in general.

By Degtyarev, Posted 20 Mar 2011

The 2007 PC exclusive Crysis amazed many gamers with its fantastic visuals. A vast jungle environment was brought to life with cutting edge technology, neat artistic direction and lots of attention to detail. More importantly, the game provided gamers with intelligent, non-linear gameplay that did not only make the jungle a joy to look at, but also fun to play in. The stealth actually worked, the AI was impressive (though not perfect) and nearly every level was a huge playground with limitless possibilities. Only one year later, developer Crytek released Crysis Warhead, a standalone expansion pack that, while short, offers some of the finest moments in the young franchise.

Crysis Warhead tells the same story as the original game, but instead of sticking with Nomad, the protagonist from the first game, we now follow Psycho, the bigmouthed Brit that functioned as NPC in the first game. In the original game, Psycho was one of Nomad's team members, that went to explore the other side of the island. In Warhead, we actually get to see what happened there. Like in the first game, Psycho is a stereotypical enfant terrible, a defiant yet charming blowhard that often bends the rules but gets away with it because, in the end, he always gets the job done.

Crysis Warhead, Review

The story itself is the typical over-the-top, uncompromising action movie stuff: Psycho has to chase a sadistic North Korean general and recover the remains of a deceased alien before it is shipped back to North Korea for reverse engineering. Unlike its predecessor, which had a similar, cheese-tastic story, Warhead is laden with third person cutscenes that provide Psycho's character with some depth. While these cutscenes don't showcase any character traits that are in any way surprising, it does make Psycho a much more interesting and likeable protagonist than Nomad, who didn't seem to have much of a personality at all. Some may find Warhead's story a bit too unexciting and cheesy for their liking, but it blends in perfectly with the bombastic, explosive character of the gameplay.

That does not mean, however, that the gameplay is in any way dumb or simplistic. Warhead offers us the same varied, smart gameplay as the original game. The first few levels in particular are incredibly open-ended and allow for a wide range of different playstyles and approaches. The stealth works perfectly once again, so those who prefer to sneak through levels without being seen will have an exceptionally good time with some of Warhead's levels, as the non-linear ones easily rank up there with some of Crysis's very best levels. One particular section partially takes place at a holiday resort, allowing the player to sneak from one beach house to another, having plenty of cover to silently eliminate his enemies one by one. Another level, in which you have to infiltrate an airfield controlled by the North Koreans, might be the very best level you'll see in either Crysis game, seeing as the map size and variety allow for a huge amount of memorable battle sequences.

If there was anything negative to be said about the non-linear gameplay of the first installment, it's that it occasionally took the pace out of the gameplay. Warhead solves this issue by adding some more linear, heavily action-based levels. These sequences mostly come down to frantic shooting action and will demand more of you than the linear sections featured in the original. This is mostly because, unlike in that game, the linear levels still contain tons of Korean soldiers for you to battle, instead of just aliens. This makes these sections retain that sense of variable, custom gameplay that often disappears to the background when you have to fight aliens. However, these sections are a bit too plentiful in comparison to the sandbox levels: They compose about half of the campaign, while a third would have been more than enough already. Still, it does not happen too often that the single player campaign of an open-ended game such as this virtually contains no weak moments.

Crysis Warhead, Review

And even in the unlikely situation that the gameplay does not entertain you, it's still a blast to just take a look around. The graphics are almost exactly the same as in Crysis, and that's a good thing, seeing as to this day no game has succeeded in surpassing that title visually. There is a problem, however, with the draw distance: Textures or even entire objects will often load on-screen during fast movement. Especially foliage has a habit of popping up only several meters away from the actor. Even with these slight annoyances, though, you won't find a game that looks better than this and Crysis when it comes to the technical side of visuals.

Apart from being a feast to the eyes, Warhead is a feast to the ears as well. It features the same solid voice acting as its predecessor, even though characters such as general Lee and even Psycho himself occasionally approach or even cross the line of unbearable cheesiness. That isn't really a surprise given the nature of this game's presentation, though. The music is more present this time around, with there being more frantic battle tunes rather than just ambient background music. This change is mostly for the better, because some particular tracks really help get the images you see on your screen across.

Crysis Warhead, Review

Unfortunately, the campaign of Crysis Warhead only lasts about 5 hours, and even if it is highly replayable, Warhead alone doesn't come close to the amount of gameplay hours offered by the original. Although this would not be a great shame for what basically is an expansion pack, Crytek decided to add an alternative for those who want to continue enjoying the intense gameplay without replaying the same set of missions over and over. Warhead comes with a free multiplayer add-on called Crysis Wars, which contains over 20 maps and offers various game modes. While the multiplayer mode does not reinvent the online FPS, it does provide Crysis fans with the opportunity of continuing to enjoy the gameplay and visuals that make Crysis so great. All the neat weapons of the Warhead campaign can be found in Crysis Wars, including the all-new grenade launcher and dual-wielded uzi. Meanwhile, the Nanosuit powers allow players to use extra armour, strength and speed, as well as the cloaking mode. The larger maps also include vehicles, and the maps themselves generally have very interesting design, allowing for some unforgettable combat moments.

The bottom-line is pretty simple: If you liked Crysis, there is absolutely no reason not to get this. Crysis Warhead, while short, is every bit as good as the original, and offers some of the best gameplay in the series yet. It is also a tad more bold than its predecessor. Warhead goes beyond the borders of the familiar in nearly every area, offering more cutscenes, more action, more story, more music, et cetera. And even if Crytek has to watch out it doesn't get carried away too much, this is certainly the direction in which Crysis 2 should be going, as long as the developers don't forget what made their previous efforts so great: non-linear gameplay and freedom of action. The multiplayer add-on Crysis Wars allows fanatics to continue enjoying intense Crysis action long after they've finished the campaign. Add to that a budget price, and you've got a product that's no less than mandatory for anyone who claims to love the series, or even the genre in general.

Jesse Dolman, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): Crytek Budapest
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2008-09-16

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