GC 2008: Crysis Warhead Updated Impressions

Ice, hovercrafts, and nanosuits--what's not to love?

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There are sequels, there are expansion packs, and somewhere in the middle there's Crysis Warhead. As a follow-up to last year's visually stunning first-person shooter Crysis, this game adheres to the same plotline of nanosuit-equipped Delta Force operatives terrorizing North Koreans on a lush island, but this time around the events unfold from a different perspective. Rather than going back to the role of Nomad, now you're filling the shoes of his squadmate Psycho, the slightly more verbose Brit who was stranded on the opposite side of the island for the majority of the original game. To find out what other differences you can expect to see, we paid a visit to EA's booth at the Leipzig Games Convention earlier today.

Our demo began with Psycho awakening in an ice sphere, one of the environments players of the first game should be familiar with. This time around, players can expect to become even more familiar with these frozen jungle settings. The Crytek rep on hand told us these spheres were one of the parts from Crysis that the development team really liked, but didn't feel they used them quite enough. So anyone who enjoys punching frozen enemies into a million pieces ought to be pleased.

Psycho did just that to the first pair of enemies he saw, but those poor saps were only frozen because they weren't lucky enough to be wearing nanosuits when the sphere activated. Not all enemies are so unlucky. Some of the human enemies you encounter will be wearing nanosuits just like you. These bad guys become a much more formidable challenge for you, but there are a few new options at your disposal for dealing with them. The most effective one we saw is the nano disruptor grenade, which deploys an EMP field to fry their suits so you can take them on more easily. One of the other new weaponry options we picked up on is the ability to wield dual SMGs--hardly the most powerful weapons in the game, but pretty stylish nonetheless.

Once Psycho dealt with the first wave of enemies on a frozen pond, he took a seat in a nearby hovercraft--one of the new vehicles in the game--to chase after Colonel Lee, who's just rushed off with an alien scout that the Delta Force would very much like to have. One of the biggest criticisms Crytek heard about the vehicles in the original game is that they were a little too squirrelly and didn't handle so well, so now they've gone and tightened up the handling to make it so you don't feel the need to stay on foot to stay alive.

After destroying a handful of snow-capped straw huts and plowing through roadside blockades in his new hovercraft, Psycho met up with a couple other squadmates and moved on to a group aliens down in a frozen valley. These floating creatures displayed some of the tweaks to the enemy AI. One of the aliens acts as a healer, hanging back until the opportunity presents itself to go and revive one of its downed allies. It's up to you to find which one is the healer so you can take it out to prevent all your progress from being reversed.

It was at this point in the valley that our brief demo came to an end. It's clear that Crysis Warhead isn't trying to go and shake things up too much, but you can still expect to see a few tweaks and additions sprinkled into the familiar open-ended action. Crysis Warhead is due to arrive shortly, with its September 16 release looming closely on the horizon.

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