It’s extremely difficult to judge both Crysis and Crysis Warhead with a decent amount of objectivity. The graphics in both games is so incredibly advanced from a technological point of view that it blinds you. It leaves you dumbstruck in the chair, it forces a huge fist in your mouth, silencing you just when you’re about to spit out any constructive criticism. About the art design, or the story, or the system requirements.
Someone said (can’t say who, important person though) that the original Crysis was the perfect game for the people with a fetish for vegetation. The expansion pack does nothing to change this, instead orienting itself towards faster and more alert gameplay, and a more complex multiplayer mode. So, if you had your hopes up in terms of seeing something else instead of the endless jungle levels… you had your hopes up for nothing. The overall design remains unchanged: jungle levels, frozen jungle levels, and a complete lack of “alien ship levels”.
Warhead is significantly cheaper than the original Crysis, and that shows in the length of the single-player campaign, which can be finished in about 5 hours on a decent difficulty level. During the campaign however, the parts where you just relaxed and admired the view have been significantly reduced. Most of the levels have been “channeled” on a narrower path, with less choices to tackle an objective, more scripted events, and a huge number of enemies, vehicles and explosions per square inch. If you stop moving, you die.
If there isn’t someone shooting at you at any given time, you must be doing something wrong. So, you’re constantly pushed towards the level conclusion by the endless hordes of aliens or Koreans, or by the linear vehicle levels, thus lowering the time spent on each individual level.
The game mechanics however remain pretty much unchanged. The nanosuit has the same “powers” like before, and with a few notable exceptions the arsenal at your disposal remains the same. There are additions though, like the EMP grenades (extremely useful against Koreans in nanosuits), C4 charges, grenade launchers, anti-personal mines and such.
A new concept in regards of how you fight is introduced: you’re not alone, most of the time. Your team cannot be controlled directly, and they’re not extremely useful either, so you just as well ignore them, as they can’t die, or get left behind. Unless it’s a scripted event of sorts. Still, the radio chatter is ok, and their AI isn’t completely brain dead.
Overall, the experience is “tighter”, more concentrated and, I have to say, better than the original. The gameplay is more “mature”, standing on its own this time, without being considered just an accessory to the graphics. It’s a shame that the storyline is still pretty bad, although some effort has been poured in this regard, with more dialogue and in-game cut scenes.
Speaking of which, the cut scenes look absolutely incredible. The additional added filters are mind blowing, making each and every one of them an absolute gem of technological brilliance. They’re also quite boring too, but it really doesn’t matter either. It’s a shame that the ending cut scene is quite unsatisfying, though, and the final boss fight has been simplified to something along the lines of “Here’s a super weapon, press the left mouse button 5 times, the end”.
So, the single-player part is shorter, more intense, with a lot of very, very pretty cut scenes. It does end though (sooner, rather than later), so the multiplayer component is quite useful at this point. It’s called Crysis Wars, and comes as a standalone package from the single-player. It has a different executable, a different installer, and can be played without having to bother with the main campaign.
It features 7 new maps (for a total of 21), and the newly added Team Instant Action mode, alongside the “classic” Power Struggle. As usual, without an organized team, the Power Struggle mode is completely chaotic; if, however there is a vague amount of team work involved, the fun factor goes way up.
The nanosuit powers have been adjusted for the multiplayer this time around. For example, you can actually use the invisibility mode, as its energy runs out at a much lower pace this time, generating quite a number of tactical opportunities for the stealthy player.