Giant Bomb Review


Crysis Warhead Review

  • PC

Crysis Warhead trades the length of the original for a bit more intensity and a lot more focus.

This Korean dude wants the container reeeal bad-like.
Crysis Warhead is a standalone game, but you'll get more out of it if you've played Crysis. That's because it's essentially an expansion pack that you don't need the first Crysis to play, one that sets you in the role of a different character on the same island, at the same time as the events of the original game. Call it Crysis Gaiden if you like, but this side story is a shorter and more-focused take on the action found in the previous game. If the original Crysis left you wondering when the action was going to finally heat up, look no further.

Warhead puts you in the nanosuit of another member of your squad from the original game. Here you play as a guy with the codename of Psycho. He's essentially Jason Statham as Chev Chelios from Crank but with a crazy suit that gives him enhanced ass-kicking abilities instead of the Beijing Cocktail and the ability to have sex with Amy Smart in public.

It's a toss-up, really.

Anyway, the suit gives your British guy the same powers that Nomad had in the original Crysis. The standard mode is an armor mode that treats the suit's energy as a rechargeable shield, but you can also set it up for speed, strength, or a cloaking device that turns you invisible for a brief period of time. The more you move while cloaked, the more it drains, which makes it tougher to run up behind people while invisible and smoke them, so the cloaking function isn't quite as cool as it initially seems.

You'll also have guns, of course, such as a few rifles, dual pistols or sub-machine guns, a shotgun, various grenades or mines, and so on. The weapons themselves aren't so great, but your ability to customize them makes up for that. You'll find additional scopes and attachments that you can apply to your weaponry at will, so if you feel like going silent you can slap on a suppressor. If discretion isn't your game, there's always a grenade launcher. Or, you know, a flashlight.

Your nanosuit lets you quickly get into or out of trouble.
Crysis Warhead gives you these tools and plops you into the jungle area of an island filled with evil North Koreans, eviler alien creatures, and somehow even eviler North Koreans. The story is set alongside the events of the original game, but it doesn't really stop to point those events out to you. If you haven't played Crysis, then you'll be left wondering why everything around the middle of the game suddenly turns to ice. And then why, after completing that section, you never see iced-over bodies of water ever again. So things are a bit easier to follow if you at least read up on the events of Crysis beforehand, but since the story doesn't really go anywhere too interesting on its own, you're probably not missing much if you ignore all that stuff.

The original Crysis was a game set apart from its shooter-brethren by its attempts to create a cohesive, more-open world to play around in. Combat wasn't as frequent as it perhaps should have been, but occasionally you'd stumble onto a camp full of enemies who haven't spotted you yet, and you'd be able to sit back and devise a way to tear it apart. Warhead gives you the same options, but it's also much more linear-feeling game. You never feel like you're randomly stumbling upon encampments or other random events. You feel like you're working your way from one end of a first-person shooter level to the other. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it also tends to focus the action and firm up the pacing of the experience when compared to the original. It's also shorter, and will probably show you the ending around the six-hour mark.

I enjoyed playing through Crysis Warhead, but ended up feeling like it didn't give you enough time to really savor the tools at your disposal. Shooting enemies in the face is, as you'd expect, the quickest way to do them in. So abilities like super speed and super strength end up having limited usefulness. I went back and hacked around with the game's console and cheated all to hell, ending up with infinite energy, ammo, and weapons. Obviously, that takes out all the challenge. But it also gives you time to toy around with the enemies and really explore the game's technical side. Switching to strength mode, grabbing Korean dudes by the neck, and tossing them away, for example, is one of those in-game guilty pleasures that only cheats and sandboxes can provide.

Warhead also comes with a second disc with its own install process that gives you the multiplayer portion of the game, Crysis Wars. There's a new mode here that wasn't in the original Crysis, but the experience is largely the same. You shoot dudes, said dudes fall over and die. Sometimes you shoot at the shadows of dudes, since you can still see the shadows of cloaked soldiers, making the cloak almost entirely useless in most situations. It's a perfectly serviceable online shooter with decent map design, but doesn't really stand out to me in any way beyond the game's trademark visuals.

Dual pistols make the world go 'round.
Oh, right, those. Remember how Crysis is still sort of the best-looking game ever made? Warhead looks like that, provided you turn the settings up. The game has supposedly been optimized a bit to run better on lesser machines, but it can still be a beast if you want to turn it up all the way. The game has an auto-detect function that will look at your system and set itself up accordingly, but it seems out of touch with reality. Here are the basic specs of my machine:

  • Vista SP1
  • 2GB RAM
  • Geforce 8800
  • Quad Core 2.4Ghz CPU

The game defaulted to "mainstream" on this hardware. I can't even figure out what that's supposed to mean. The game has default settings marked minimum, mainstream, gamer, and enthusiast. This makes no sense, but given the order they appear in the dropdown, I've taken it to mean that minimum is, like, minimum. And enthusiast must be "stupid dope greatest graphics ever" mode or something. When I flicked everything up to "gamer," textures started disappearing left and right, leaving me with enemies that had a flat shade of gray where their face and skin should be. Mainstream looked decent and had a great frame rate, even at 1680x1050. But the level of detail distance on that setting is criminally low, and caused me to miss a few items here and there because they weren't being drawn when they were more than, like, 20 feet away from me. Sing this along with me: Your Mileage May Vary!

One of the best parts about Crysis Warhead is the price. With an expansion-minded retail rate of $29.99, Crysis Warhead is inexpensive enough to make many of its issues feel very minor. Taken with the optimizations that may make it a friendlier game on more hardware configurations and its action-focused pacing, it's also much more approachable than the previous game.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
45 Comments Refresh
Posted by taco484

looks good!

Posted by elbow

Great review Jeff, although I am bit surprised, I remember watching one of your Points! episodes, or something to that extent, and you said that you didn't like the original Crysis, or even the original Farcry.

Posted by taco484

espec cuz my computer is teh sux0rz!!

Posted by Milkman

Wow, very surpirsed you enjoyed Warhead after you professed your hatred of Crysis. Personally, I loved the original and Crysis. Good review.

Posted by EightBitWarrior

Crysis is definitely a game that can benefit from cheating, but I've managed to get quite a bit of mileage out of said goofing around without delving into that territory.

Posted by xplodedd

they should really tone this game down a bit or optimize it.

Posted by Snail

Jeff has the same exact specs as me! xD (I got 4 GB Ram though, but still pretty close).

Posted by Baljot187

I'm glad you were objective on the review, Jeff; after hearing your self-professed dislike for Crytek products on the Bombcasts and seeing your name on the review, I was more than a little surprised. Though I suppose that the best review is the one not written by the gushing fanboy. Kudos.

Posted by Replica23

I really enjoyed Warhead, but I would have rather seen it as a $15-20 episodic pack than $30 stand-alone game.

Posted by PapaLazarou

I'm a major PC gamer and don't own any consoles but I dunno I havn't bothered with Spore, Stalker, Crysis or any PC in Sept apart from Warhammer Online which I was in CB for and didn't buy it. I'm just tried of the same old crap released again and again and FPS games havn't evolved what so ever since Half-life 2 :\

I mean why is it we have to wait for Valve to revolutionize the genre each time?

Posted by PureRok

@ PapaLazarou

Why are all of your comments so negative? You didn't play Stalker and yet you say all FPS games are pretty much the same? Maybe you should play Stalker and you'll realize it's not your run-of-the-mill FPS. Also, Spore is not "the same old crap". It sounds to me like you're just not playing any new games so you have preconceptions that all of the games being released are the same.

Posted by Jordan23
Great review, I'll like to play Warhead, but I'm not the PC gamer type. I hope someday the Crysis franchise will be ported to game consoles.
Posted by Death_Burnout

Yeah i was surprised Jeff reviewed it, and liked it for that matter, funny how i love crysis but do not like warhead.

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Wow, Jeff ended up reviewing it when he didn't like Far Cry or Crysis? Strange...

Posted by Jeffsekai

Why did Jeff review this????

Posted by Pudge

Put Crysis Wars on 360, we don't need the single player. They can tone down the graphics in a multiplayer release, put it out for 30 bucks and make mad bucks. I wanna play!!

Posted by UpMax

Great review man, I got it off steam and it's worth every penny

Posted by RHCPfan24

Wow, cool review.  I sort of want this game but I know I need to make some improvements to my machine to make it somewhat enjoyable.

Posted by Noremakk

Your graphical problems could have easily been fixed by simply tweaking the settings yourself.

Posted by jNerd

"original Crysis was a game set apart from its shooter-brethren by its attempts to creative a cohesive, more-open world to play around in"

Posted by John

heh, "stupid dope greatest graphics ever". XD

Posted by Driadon

The settings make sense to me:
Mainstream = that computer you bought at Best Buy for 800 bucks. Gamer = That computer you built yourself for 800 bucks or that computer you bought at Best Buy for 1400 bones.
Enthusiast = That computer you built yourself for $1400+

Posted by Kohe321

I LOVED crysis. I am getting this.

Posted by Irishjohn

I just can't figure out whether or not to get this.  I really enjoyed Crysis right up until everything gets cold and the enemies change type.  Then I just got... bored, really.

Posted by Linkyshinks

I really enjoyed both games. If your really creative with the Nano Suit abilities well you will love Crysis and Warhead, but if your light on the brain matter the suit abilities will be wasted.

Posted by Echo

Nice to see you actually liked this one, Jeff!

Posted by JoelTGM

I loved Crysis, so I will get this game, but not right away.  I'm looking at other games at the moment like Gears of War 2 :)

Posted by majnuker

i have Warhead, and man, i can say, what an improvement. Really is a great deal. It costs as much as Assassin's Creed these days, but is an amazing game. Definitely eager to see their sales numbers, and Crysis 2 news in the coming months.

Posted by Shadow2K6

I bought it (I also have Crysis) and I thought it was really good.  I like how its more action intense then Crysis.

Posted by Great_Ragnarok

great review Jeff. straight to the point and talking like a real gamer!

Posted by Free2game

FYI, mainstream is medium, other than the names being different, if you played the original game the settings shouldn't be hard to figure out
minimum = low
mainstream = medium
gamer = high
enthusiast = very high

Posted by BlackWaterCO

My PC is utter garbage and Im a high school kid with no job, so an 360 or PS3 version would be nice because this game looks sick son. Im not getting a job either because 1.) Hard times, hard to find work 2.) Girl stuff goes on the weekends

Posted by slowpantz

good review, i love the game

Posted by PaT2090

I'm British you muppet.

Posted by Inazuma
  • "Vista SP1
  • 2GB RAM
  • Geforce 8800
  • Quad Core 2.4Ghz CPU"
I have the same machine and can run on all settings Gamer - with average 30FPS in all areas. Game looks incredible too
Posted by Shabran

when i sort my pc out im gona get crysis and warhead

Posted by igl

Vista on 2gb ram is criminal :S
I run it on Vista, 4gb, 8800gtx, 2,6duo and it runs "playable" on 1280*800-"Gamer"
It only stutters a bit at very busy moments. So much more enjoyable than the original crysis, which made me motion sick because of the low res+low fps.

Posted by krazy_kyle

4gb in vista is a waste of money, it only uses 3GB max and you can just buy 2 GB or ram instead at 1066Mhz  provided your motherboard supports it

Posted by igl

32Bit is not "3gb only" - It is 4gb (max) minus your GPU-Ram. The majority of boards is pooling the memory together. (4gb+ 512mb gpu = 3,5gb system memory left)
However 64bit Vista has no such limit ;) 2gb vista is a torture imo... crysis + vista, will easily fill up your memory, nullifying the advantage of faster clocked ram in a blink.

Posted by daniel_beck_90

Awesome review from Awesome jeff

  • Vista SP1
  • 2GB RAM
  • Geforce 8800
  • Quad Core 2.4Ghz CPU                         wow that is one hell of a machine ain't it ?
Posted by MaddProdigy

I had a friend who had an XFX 9800 GX2, his system set up for the enthusiast setting, it looked unbelievable, in my opinion the greatest graphics of any game to date

Posted by ildemaro

great review, the original crysis was great as well

Posted by triaRobar

The Crytek team know how!!Great game,even better than Crysis.The only problem,its small map..

Posted by jun_aka_pekto

I found Warhead fairly easy (along with the original Crysis) when using the full complement of tools (nanosuit cloak, binoculars, radar) in the game. There's no need to resort to cheats whatsoever. It's not hard to adjust tactics to deal with limitations in equipment.  The game got considerably harder when I avoided using the nanosuit altogether.
As for the aliens being hard to kill........ Besides the exosuits, I had no problems dealing with any of the aliens, including the bigger flying octopus-like things. It's simply a matter of having the right weapons and ammo.  
One thing I love about the two games are the different approaches the player can use in accomplishing the objective. I love infiltrating bases without firing a shot. In fact I'm going to try the same on the airport level of Warhead and see what kind of fireworks erupt..

Posted by MrPilkington

Both those Crysis games were radical. I can't wait for the second one.