It's that time of year again--dozens of game publishers have descended upon the LA convention center to show off their upcoming games. Among them is EA Games with Crysis Warhead, the followup to last year's graphically impressive shooter Crysis. Apparently, Warhead's single-player game will take place at around the same time as the events in the original game, on the same island, but from a different perspective. This time around, you'll play as a new character, Sykes, who, like the protagonist from the original game, is also equipped with a powerful nanosuit that grants various superhuman powers.
We had a chance to try out the second level of the game's single-player campaign, which starts out behind the wheel of an armored personnel carrier escorting O'Neill, a pilot who accompanies you on this mission--in this case, in an unarmed jeep driving just ahead of you. Our first mission was to escort O'Neill along a coastal jungle road to the landing site of a downed VTOL carrier. The APC handled rather easily and the mounted antivehicle gun was controlled independently by mouselook, so it was easy to tear apart the enemy vehicles that lay in wait for us along the road at various points. Because the game takes place on the same island and in the same time frame as the original game, our primary enemies were North Korean soldiers, most of which were equipped with standard military weaponry and vehicles--though a few of them had second-rate nanosuits which gave them a bit of extra staying power. Though it was difficult to acquire some of the foot soldiers using the mounted gun, we were also able to dispatch them simply by running them down.
Once we hit the dropzone, we jumped out of the vehicle and met up with a few friendly soldiers who were also helping defend the aircraft. This led to our first firefight as we defended the VTOL on an elevated rise against soldiers that continuously poured out of the jungle. The enemies seemed pretty smart about using cover, both from fallen jungle debris and from smoke bombs, so picking them off wasn't easy. Apparently, Crysis Warhead will allow for about four times the number of computer-controlled enemies onscreen as in the previous game, and the pacing will reflect this fact. While Crysis emphasized stealth and careful tactics, Warhead will incorporate many more heavy-duty gun battles--you'll also have access to an expanded arsenal including a grenade launcher and dual submachine guns you can carry in each hand. Ammo won't be in short supply, nor will manipulable items--you'll find plenty of barrels and other objects to hurl at your foes, and you'll also be still able to seize enemy soldiers by the throat, as well as picking up any ducks (yes, ducks) that happen to be wandering around the VTOL landing site.
After clearing the area and clearing the flyer for launch, we hopped back into the APC to rendezvous with the VTOL at a nearby harbor factory guarded by entrenched infantry soldiers. This installment is intended to be cleared on foot, though we were able to crash our APC through the entry barriers and bring it with us into the base by some feat of tremendous skill, or tremendous luck (it was dark and noisy in the E3 room, so it was hard to tell). While on foot, we had a chance to play with some of the nanosuit's abilities, such as the invisibility power, that lets you sneak up on nearby enemies and get the drop on them, as well as the strength ability, which lets you hurl the aforementioned barrels down onto your enemies' heads.
Crysis Warhead seems like it will offer all the action of the original game and then some. Now that Crysis fans are more acclimated to the powers of the nanosuit, they'll likely be able to make better use of it, and the game's expanded arsenal, against Warhead's larger groups of smart, tough enemies. The game is scheduled for release later this year.