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Crysis Warhead for PC – Some Thoughts

September 23, 2008
Apparently the head of war is bald.

Apparently the head of war is bald.

This is more of a “first look” review for the newly released Crysis Warhead, which hit the stores on September 16th. I’ll discuss the included multiplayer game, Crysis Wars, in a few days. Please realize that I’ve never played Crysis, the original release for this stand-alone expansion.

If anybody is familiar with Crytek’s first release, Far Cry, you will be familiar with the setting – a series of small islands in the Pacific with the hulks of left-over World War II paraphernalia is being manned by hostile forces and it is your job as a one-man army to go in and take them out.

In Crysis Warhead, you continue the role of Sergeant “Psycho” Sykes from Crysis helping cleanse a tropical island of Northern Korean invaders – but you quickly realize that there’s more going on than what meets the eye. Armed with the latest weaponry and a super-soldier suit that can shift between enhanced armour, speed, strength and stealth modes, you are hit by an EMP bomb that knocks you flat. When you awake, you find a crater coated in solid ice, surrounded by similarly frozen wild animals. Yeah, that’s interesting, but your controller tells you to get a move on and meet up with your evac team.

Using DirectX 10 graphics, this game delivers visually like few games do. Bullets zip by your head and ripple into the undergrowth, sparking off of rocks and, if enough are whipping through the air, can actually cut down trees in the fully destructable environment. At one point in the game I was driving a Humvee with a weapon mount, tracking down some dirty Koreans who were hiding out in some trees. Solution? Blast the area with ammo until they had no more cover to hide behind. The problem? I had the same thing done to me later in the game. Anything can be picked up and thrown, either to distract enemies or to bash them in the head. With the help of your suit’s Maximum Strength setting, you can pick up extremely heavy items, or jump incredible distances.

Lighting and water effects are second to none, and being on a tropical island you can bet there’s a lot of both. Rivers, streams, waterfalls and even sunlight can be used to your advantage. Trying to take out a roadblock? Sneak past by crawling through a low-lying stream and come at the block with the late-day sun at your back. The flare from the sun affects the aim of the AI, giving you a better chance of not being hit – even though your suit’s Maximum Armour setting makes you near impervious to small-arms fire.

Unfortunately, you’re not always against small arms fire. There are lots of vehicles in this game, both used against your enemies and against you. Large caliber arms fire ricocheting near your head blurs your vision, but turning that against your enemy makes you a death-dealer of incredible proportions. Vehicles feel sturdy and are easy to control, and have multiple seats that can be entered which can only make multiplayer vehicle combat tons of fun. You can take out tires which make it difficult to steer, and watching the tires blow out on a burning Humvee is fun and immersive.

I mentioned the AI being blinded by light, but they don’t seem to be affected by the covering effects of dense foliage, and they all have incredible hearing. Creeping through dense underbrush apparently makes enough noise for three Koreans to easily hear you from high atop a nearby rock face, and then track you down to your exact location. Another problem I have is, though this is a sandbox game, enemy spawn is awful.

I’ll give you a for instance…

I was on the track the game was laying down for me, but went off of it at one point to investigate some smoke I saw rising in the distance. I found some burning trucks and the collapsed entrance to what could have been a mine. There were some small buildings here, but nothing of importance. So, I continued on to my next checkpoint where I could look over a communications center and get my next set of orders. That checkpoint keyed new enemy spawns from the communications center below me, which was fine. But enemies also spawned at the collapsed mine, where I had just been. Where were those guys? Did they just escape from the mine? Were they hiding inside a burning truck? Did they drop in on parachutes? Spawns should be triggered by proximity, not by checkpoints. What I did like, though, is when I took those guys out, I came back several minutes later and the bodies were still there. I saved, reloaded the game later, and the bodies were still there. It’s a nice touch to add immersion, but then so would proximity-triggered enemies, not event-triggered.

There are a lot of small things added to this game to make it an immersive experience, but AI once again fails to deliver. It’s better than other games, but the mix of godlike omnipotence and sheer stupidity are difficult to take. Graphically the game is stunning. I can’t wait to try out the team multiplayer action. Crysis Warhead carries a price tag of $30 and is available from your Local Friendly Video Game Store, or via Steam. You can’t go wrong, but remember to check the system requirements first. This one’s a beast.

4 pieces of shrapnel out of 5.

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From → video games

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