Crysis Warhead PC Review

Last November was the release of the highly anticipated Crysis. It turned out to be a game that would be known to make 9 out of 10 PC players shrivel up and weep in a corner, all because their PC gaming systems didn’t have enough graphical power to run it on maximum settings. It wasn’t just a damn good looking piece of software, underneath those hot lustrous visuals came a game that had the game play to match the looks, especially with Crytek’s Nano Muscle Suit ability system, which allowed you to swap the suits special functions on the fly. So a year has gone by and still Crysis is one of the best looking video games to have ever graced the market, but hold on, Crytek aren’t finished yet. They are back with a standalone expansion for Crysis, which comes with more action and a graphics engine that is still smoking hot, but is slightly friendlier to the PC user, that can only mean good things for gamers who were sitting in fear at the original’s requirements.

Crysis Warhead has you taking control of a British soldier who goes by the name of Psycho. He was vaguely in the start of the original Crysis, but because of Nomad (the main character from Crysis) getting split from the squad; you didn’t get to see what was happening to him, now you can. The stand alone expansion pack takes place at the exact same time as when Crysis was set. This means that the story will be a lot clearer to the player if they have played the original game. If you haven’t then basically the story is quite simple to grasp. The Koreans have managed to get their hands on an alien artefact that was discovered on an unknown forest filled island. The United States are after a piece of the unexplained phenomenon, so have sent in a squad to investigate and seize the artefact. The story in Warhead is the same, but told from a different perspective, Crytek state the Psycho is on the “other side of the island” to Nomad.

From the get go the game clearly shows that Psycho is well….crazy. He’s a lot more of a “in your face” type of guy compared to Nomad. This could also explain how Crysis Warhead is too. Crytek have decided to make the game somewhat linear compared to the original. I don’t mean that it’s stupidly linear, as in the likes of Call of Duty 4, because you can still explore vast amounts of area filled with trees, but it feels as if the paths placed down are focused on getting you to the next point. But in sacrifice of that, Crytek have decided to boost up the action. From the opening cut scene you’ll be straight into fights with soldiers, tanks and helicopters. There’s none of that empty world feeling in Warhead compared to that of Crysis, mainly because in the original, while you was travelling to the next location, there wasn’t really many chances to get involved with combat along the way. To put it into an easy equation for you, Crysis Warhead = action, guns, suit powers, less walking and more action!

That doesn’t mean the game has lost the ability to make good use of the nano suits powers. It still gives you the option to either run in all guns blazing, or go all Sam Fisher on their arse and take them down while using the suits built in “Cloak” ability. The game doesn’t sacrifice anything in return to give the user an action packed adventure. Everything that was in the first game is here, only pumped up. The only people who will not like this are probably the people who liked exploring around in Crysis, and certainly Pacifists too.

If you’ve never played Crysis then you won’t have an idea of how the Nano suit plays a vital role in the game. From the start you can use any of the four abilities. By pressing the correct button, the game will bring up a menu and you just have to move your mouse in that general direction to select. There are actually five options in the menu because the fifth one allows you to customize your weapons, but will get on to that shortly.

You’ll probably use those abilities quite often as they are very helpful in some way or another. Each one has a specific function to use in battles against the Koreans and alien scum. “Maximum Strength” will give you more power to throw things and jump higher. “Maximum Speed” gives you faster speed. “Maximum Armour” gives your body a tougher shell so it can take more damage, the final one, “Cloak” will make you invisible for a short period of time. None of these powers feel tacked on or pointless, so there isn’t one that you won’t use. Selecting the fifth option in the wheel makes it so you can customize your weapon. The weapon you are holding will move up towards the camera, and then tabs come off with options to equip scopes and accessories onto the weapon. You can add a lot of things on to certain weapons, but some are pointless, like having a sniper scope on a shotgun, that’s not really going to do any good unless you just want to spy on Koreans urinating in trees, yep that’s in the game!

So if you are one of these people who have played Crysis, then all this will sound familiar to you, so apart from the increased combat contact, you’re probably wondering what else is new. Since the game isn’t a sequel, it’s an add-on, Crytek haven’t really done anything majorly different to the series. The A.I has been improved, making you get the sense of been overwhelmed at times, ever with your suit powers, they aren’t scared of trying to flank you, or get away from you if they think you are a danger close up. There’s also points in the game where they are so many Koreans swapping you, all with one thing in mind, trying to blow you away. It’s moments like these that really do show off the suit powers. The biggest A.I improvement award will have to go towards the aliens, who feel less dumb and monotonous this time around, overall it makes for some exciting combat, which probably hasn’t been seen in a game since F.E.A.R and the first Crysis.

It’s also good to note that you don’t have to pick up ammo now with the pickup button, as long as you aren’t on the hardest setting, ammo will just automatically get picked up when you walk over it. It was a small problem in the first game that became annoying, but Crytek have fixed that, like with a lot of other little bits of problems that affected Crysis.

Apart from a selection of new weapons and enemies, another new thing is the renamed multiplayer mode, now called Crysis Wars. It’s a more thought out multiplayer compared to Crysis and it shows too. They’ve finally added team death match that goes by the name of Team Instant Action, along with the two other modes from the first game, Instant Action and Power Struggle.

The greatest thing about playing Crysis Wars is the fact you get to still use all your suit powers from single player. It helps in great deals when face with so many opponents, getting attacked by a rocket? Just stick on maximum speed and burn rubber, sniper got your head in view? Just slap on cloak and casually walk away. It makes the take on normal death match more interesting and exciting. If you are like me, you might find yourself playing the death matches more than Power Struggle. Power Struggle is a Battlefield inspired mode that isn’t explained that well. It wasn’t a patch on the fun that is supplied with the death match action and it’s not like you are missing out as vehicles are also in death match too.

This is the part of the review which doesn’t need any sort of introduction. I think anyone who is into PC gaming knows that Crysis was an absolute stunner to look at. A year has gone by and Crytek have improved on the visuals and also made it so that even the poorest of PC gamers can still at least have a crack on the game. The graphic settings in the game have been renamed from the typical Medium, High, and the only for the hardcore Very High, instead it has them named Mainstream, Gamer and Enthusiast. It’s true that if you plan to run it on Enthusiast at a decent resolution then you will need a powerful computer system, but if you are lucky enough to own a system like that you’ll be greeted with some damn fine eye candy. Even if you can’t run the game on top settings, you might be able to run it on some of the lower ones with a decent frame rate, even if you aren’t getting the flashiness, you’re still getting a shooter with some very good gameplay.

It’s just not the graphics that look draw dropping. The game also has some very nice set pieces that really show of the game’s artistic approach. It loses some of the generic surroundings and fills it with lush environments and settings. This again shows off more in the later stage of the game where you are fighting the aliens in the harsh cold environments. There’s nothing to complain about the audio and soundtrack. The guns sound like guns, people scream and the voice acting is pretty well done. The music fits in nicely, giving you some slow tunes for the brief moment you are not actually shooting someone, to faster upbeat music when the gunfights start blasting out.

Fans of Crysis are probably jumping with joy and wetting themselves when I say Crysis Warhead is a better game in every possible way than the original. That’s saying something since Crysis was a great game. It might not be as long, lasting around the five hour mark, but you do get a great multiplayer experience to go back to once you are done with the campaign. The gameplay also allows replay value or if you are a graphics whore, you can just go back to the game to make yourself excited. It’s also got a bargain cheap prince of £14.99 from certain places. I don’t really know what else I can say to make you go buy it. You should buy it if you can run this beauty as it’s probably going to be one of the best shooters to hit the PC this year; they aren’t going to be many others that challenge Crysis Warhead’s throne.

9 out of 10
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