…streaking away into a beautiful sunset.
I occasionally wonder how developers go about analyzing their previous releases and the popular and critical response received. There are examples of follow-up titles to great games that do precisely what they need to do – expand the original title while maintaining the fundamental design philosophy – and then there are examples which go in a seemingly random direction. Crysis: Warhead is in the latter category.
[image1]I cannot figure out why CryTek made the decisions they did. Crysis was a fairly open, free-roaming game, at least during the first two thirds. (We don’t speak about the last third in the GR compound – that was a dark day, filled with squid.) Warhead, on the other hand, is a fairly straight-forward and linear game, so much so that there are moments where it feels an awful lot more like Doom 3 than Crysis.
This doesn’t make it bad. Warhead remains a solid shooter with plenty of opportunities for excellent firefights and unique solutions to problems, if ‘problems’ can be defined as North Korean soldiers with machine guns, helicopters, and tanks. The use of the aliens is also less disruptive to the flow of gameplay this time around, with the exception of one uniquely painful hovercraft sequence. Hovercrafts, by the way, are inherently annoying; they are loud donuts, prone to being chewed up by the first passerby.
On that note, the A.I. seems better this time around. Opponents spread out and comb over areas more carefully, making it harder to just play predator with them. While you still easily have the advantage over your foes, combat strategies have changed considerably.
[image2]In terms of storyline, Warhead fills in the huge gaping hole that was Psycho in Crysis. The character started the game as just an angry British guy who inexplicably survived to the end. Warhead explains how he survived and wandered about the island shooting, of course, lots and lots of Koreans. Honestly, there’s so little context provided that you’ll have no clue what’s going on if you haven’t played Crysis. Also, the plot isn’t terribly coherent; initially you’re tasked with finding a nuclear bomb in, only somewhere around the middle that drops off the radar, and instead you’re recovering an alien with no real segue from either Psycho or his commanding officers.
Otherwise, most of the what you remember from Crysis are exactly the same. The suit is still the mainstay of your power and has not changed one iota. In terms of weapons, there are a few new guns here and there, but for the most part, the armament hasn’t really changed.
Warhead is pretty, yes, but you knew that. It doesn’t make a vast or even really noticeable graphical leap over Crysis. It doesn’t need to, mind you – Crysis was already a game so beautiful it made computers vomit. Some optimization has been brought to the table, but from what I’ve observed, it won’t change much; if you couldn’t run Crysis credibly before, Warhead won’t make a serious difference. If you were on the cusp, though, you might get edged over.
[image3]The new multiplayer game, Crysis: Wars, pulls a lot of the nuance of Crysis’s multiplayer out, though it admittedly is much less of a hack-frenzy. It's not strictly better or worse, as it doesn’t really compare favorably to other giants in the multiplayer space of PC gaming, but it isn’t bad on its own merits by any means. It’s just a little shallower than I hoped for.
Really, Crysis: Warhead is fine. It doesn’t represent a serious evolution of the game, either story-wise or engine-wise, and its direction feels entirely tangential to that of the original Crysis. If you were mainly hungering for more Crysis-esque gameplay, Warhead will do you just fine. But if you were expecting to get a more significant story, some resolution to the previous game, or a major innovation in gameplay or graphics, you will be sorely disappointed.