Crysis: Warhead Hands-on Preview

Written by Joe Martin

July 28, 2008 // 12:09 p.m.

Tags: #cry #crysis #crysis-warhead #crysis-warhead-hands-on-preview #crytek #ea #expansion #nomad #piracy #preview #psycho #sykes #warhead

First Impressions Last

It’s always hard to judge an expansion pack – especially one which claims not to be an expansion pack and which you’ve only had a limited amount of time with. There are very firm mental guidelines governing how different you want the game to be.

You want new weapons – but you also want the new guns and toys to be fun, like the old ones. You want sparkling new cars and levels, but nothing that you have to learn about from scratch. You want a new plot, but it has to be something that can be told in a smaller slice of time without becoming a sequel proper.

There are a lot of invisible requirements in other words, each expectation trapping the game in like the transparent walls of a traditional Mime Holding Facility. Filthy mimes.

As we’ve hinted though throughout this little hands-on preview, the main problem with what we’ve seen of Crysis: Warhead is that it doesn’t push these invisible boundaries far enough.

Crysis: Warhead Hands-on Preview Crysis: Warhead Hands-on Preview - Impressions

You can hardly blame it for that though – the boundaries are invisible, so it can be hard to find them to start with. It seems to us then that if there is a problem with Crysis: Warhead it’d be that the gameplay doesn’t really offer anything new or exciting over the original game.

The engine has apparently been re-tooled and enhanced to run better on lower-end systems and the game will still come with a special executable to offer performance boosts in 64-bit Vista, which is all very nice if you’re into that sort of thing. Again though, it seems that it may be a case of Crytek pushing the technological boundaries and getting left behind with all the other areas.

Which isn’t to say that Crysis: Warhead is bad – it isn’t. The game is still fun, frantic, cool and kinetic. There’s still an awful lot of fun to be had with Warhead even if you just judge the game solely from the segments we played; the issue is solely that there doesn’t seem to be anything decisively different that separates Crysis: Warhead from Crysis.

Or Far Cry, for that matter. It’s all just one big ol’ jungle if you get grumpily down to the core of the thing.

Crysis: Warhead does offer a few new enhancements and tweaks – and there’s yet more tweaking going on on the multiplayer side of things, though we didn’t get a chance to see any of it – but is that enough to warrant a new product instead of just a patch? EA and CryTek seem to think so, but we’re not so sure.

Crysis: Warhead Hands-on Preview Crysis: Warhead Hands-on Preview - Impressions

In the end, it looks like a whole lot of the success for Crysis: Warhead is going to rest on the story – which is a bit worrying given the negative reaction to Crysis’ plotline.

Can Psycho actually defy the odds a little bit and become a sympathetic, or at least an enjoyable character for players to get involved with? Strangely, that’s what Crysis: Warhead may end up depending on if it wants to try and make a bigger splash than some of this year's other Q4 heavy hitters.

If Psycho can do that then Warhead may actually stand a chance of besting its own big brother, showing the market exactly what CryTek are capable of when the effort that goes into making the technology is redirected into the level design and storytelling.

If not, then Warhead may end up closer to Blue Shift than Opposing Force – offering only more of the same but in a slightly more grating accent. That isn’t going to matter hugely to the ardent fans of the original, but newcomers and uncertain readers may want to bear it in mind.

Which way will it go exactly? It’s still far too early to tell – all we will say is that we are quietly confident that Warhead will manage to sneak under our radar and blow our muffins clean off…
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