by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Back to the island
Crysis was, and perhaps still is, the most stunning FPS ever made as far as graphics and special effects are concerned. It is therefore no wonder that the German developer Crytek is planning to turn the storyline into a trilogy. Fortunately for those who did not like the latter part of the game where you had to start fighting against stereotypical evil aliens, the second part of the trilogy, Crysis Warhead, tells a story parallel to that of the first game. Like the original, the game will also offer a multiplayer, but so far no further information has been released of this area of the game.
The story of Crysis Warhead is centred around Sergeant ”Psycho” Sykes, who appeared briefly in the first game. Basically, Psycho had his most exciting adventures on the other side of the same island where we met Nomad in the first game. The main storyline is naturally already known to us from the first game, but I for one don't mind getting another set of exciting missions to play through in the same setting.
The story picks up after the harbour mission in the original when Sykes is called away. And, as you may remember, he only comes back at a late part of the game bragging about his adventures that we never witnessed. But now we can play through his adventures first-hand.
Apparently, Sergeant Sykes is a bit more rash personality than Nomad and will be using a more impressive arsenal of weaponry to take out the enemy and create as big explosions as he can on the way. Also, for some inexplicable reason, the enemy on the other side of the island seems to be better equipped than they were in the locations that Nomad explored – at least there are new kinds of vehicles to drive and weapons to try. Also, the missions are not just repeats and rehashes of the originals, but offer some new types of activities: such as escort missions with and presumably without vehicles.
Crytek is keeping much of the new stuff under the wraps at the moment, but they have revealed that Crysis Warhead will have at least two new vehicles that you can drive, a couple of more weapons and, above all, the game will be louder and offer fancier explosions than the first one. Like in the original, you have the wonderful sandbox-like option to choose your own way to complete the mission, which adds a lot to replayability. You could, for example, challenge yourself to use only your bare hands against the enemies, or only throw rats and spiders at them – or to find the biggest, baddest vehicle you can and storm through the opposition, blowing everything up.
Crytek also revealed that the game will have the familiar jungle and ice environments, but also two additional terrain types that will remain a surprise until later in the development cycle. All in all, it seems that the game will offer enough new stuff to excite even those who've played the original through a few times too many and could do it blindfolded if asked to. The length of the game is going to be a little shorter than in the original, but that really depends on the gamer's decisions on how to go through the given missions.
Engine and AI
The game will run on an improved version of the CryEngine 2, meaning that you will definitely see improved explosions and graphics. However, the developers are determined to make sure that you can play the game well on a standard $600 dollar desktop PC, so you won't have to upgrade your gaming gear like you had to do for the original Crysis.
The enemy AI is also improved – instead of standing still while trying to figure out what to do next, the enemy soldiers will behave more fluidly and there can be more of them on-screen at the same time. Thus, it sounds like you may actually have a use for all those grenades that served little to no purpose in the original. Personally, I hope that the AI will also be smart enough to try to blow up the buildings that you use as a cover, if they know that you are inside. In the original, it was far too easy to hide in a watch tower and snipe at the enemy while they milled around pretty much clueless of how to use the ladder or how to bring the tower down under my feet.
Crysis Warhead is a definite must-have for any fan of the original and anyone who normally doesn't play FPS games should definitely at least give this one a try – the open sandbox play style and increased smarts of the enemies promise to make this a worthy successor to the original Crysis and keep it a head and shoulders above the competition.