The creature AI is far more lethal compared to the kamikaze calamari of Crysis; now, they behave more like assassins, skittering through the brush, taking cover behind trees and rocks, and using coordinated attacks, including flanking and distraction (using what appears to be vocal signaling). In one sequence that takes places in a rocky gorge, I was repeatedly rubbed out until I figured out that while I was being attacked from the front, other creatures were advancing behind me upwards along the walls of the ravine, using small plateaus for cover and popping out to shoot me in the back.
Warhead also trounces the original in its spectacular climax, which tosses you into the center of what I’ll only say is an awe-striking, terrifying scenario, yet keeps your mission focused tightly and credibly on what one man - albeit, one man nicknamed Psycho - could achieve. It’s nothing like the laser-tag silliness of the Crysis finale. Multiplayer also gets a fine boost with the addition of Team Instant Action that supports up to 32 players, and includes maps that force you to use the nanosuit aggressively to navigate elevated forest dwellings, and one full of VTOLs, helicopters, and tanks beneath a railway trestle that’s rich with cover. As a gift to LAN gamers, Warhead’s multiplayer version can be installed and played on multiple PCs using a single copy.
To be fair, Crytek doesn’t consider Crysis Warhead to be a proper “sequel” to the original, and it may not have been meant to reach the lofty heights reached by its predecessor. It’s a visually dazzling series of showcases, set pieces, and astonishing images that consistently overshadow the gameplay. No FPS diehard should miss it, but I say that more for the Team Instant Action multiplayer than the enjoyable but forgettable single-player campaign.
Although we know that Crysis Warhead will use SecuROM copy protection and require online activation, there was no word at press time about the exact number of installations that will be permitted per copy (probably three or five), nor whether those installations will be revocable.
The $650 Challenge: a promise made good
Earlier this year, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli made the astonishing claim that he expected Crysis Warhead to run at 30 to 35 frames per second at High settings on a PC that cost little more than $600. I tested Warhead on a system I built myself with parts that totaled less than $650 (including a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo E6700 and GeForce 9800 GT). The result: On Gamer settings - the Warhead equivalent to High - I averaged a surprising 32 frames per second, except on the hovercraft level, which made the rig chug and dropped the framerate average down to about 26 fps, which is still impressive for the engine that had been legendary as a system buster.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 73% (good)
Sep 16, 2008