Crysis Warhead review
There are times when special powers would come in rather handy.
Super speed to get you to the train station on time; invisibility to help you sneak to the front of the ticket queue; super strength to carry your bags. Nice. But even more so when you're a member of a US Delta Force tasked with infiltrating an idyllic island off the coast of Korea.
Crysis Warhead is neither a sequel nor a prequel to the original Crysis, one of the most impressive games of recent years: instead, it depicts the same events from a different angle. While the original put you in the shoes of the squeaky-clean Jake Dunn, codename Nomad, Warhead lets you experience the action from the point of view of worryingly nicknamed team-mate Michael 'Psycho' Sykes. It's a neat idea; while Nomad is across the other side of the island, Psycho has his own battles to fight.
If you're unfamiliar with Crysis, suffice it to say it's one-third Commando, one-third Aliens, and one-third tracking down a container with something otherworldly lurking inside. Standing in your way is an island jam-packed with grumpy KPA troops and some downright unfriendly aliens.
One man versus two armies would look a little uneven, so you have some gadgets to stack the odds in your favour. As in Crysis, you can slip into a nanosuit, which is not what Paris Hilton wears at the beach but in fact a piece of futuristic military hardware that imbues its wearer with special abilities. You can swap between super strength, super speed, enhanced armour and invisibility. Thecatch is that your suit only has a limited amount of energy, and it's up to you to learn how best to apply it. Engage the speed mode and you can dash across exposed areas in the blink of an eye, but misjudge the distance and you may find yourself left out in the open, under heavy fire. Get it right, and you become a one-man army, gracefully shifting attributes at just the right moments to dispatch your enemies with effortless style.
Where Crysis started to get more than a little dull towards its ending, the developers, Crytek, have learnt from their mistakes. Warhead breaks up the story into more manageable chunks of high-octane action, and feels much more satisfying. While the switch from jungle-based warfare to open alien-slaying landscapes was anticlimactic in the original, Warhead never lets the pressure off. You find yourself caught in the crossfire between the aliens and the KPA on more than one occasion. Do you wade in taking on all comers? Or sneak around and pick off the survivors standing in your way? You're free to play the way you want.
The main problem with Warhead is its brevity. Reasonably skilled players will find themselves cruising through it on standard difficulty in about five or six hours. There's always the insanely challenging Delta mode. Mercifully, the hardware demands are less extreme than before, but you'll want a recent high-end graphics card and a heavyweight all-round system. On maximum detail, Crysis Warhead looks better than any other game out there. But if your PC would struggle, pick up Crysis' brilliant predecessor Far Cry instead - it's now available for a fiver.