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If games were sold like detergents, Crysis Warhead would have been called Crysis Concentrated. This is fundamentally a heavily focussed, super-strength version of its predecessor that proves that a little Crysis can actually go further than a lot.
It's a Crysis without all the dull bits. There is less time racing around vast environments, not being 100% sure how to get to the next objectives, while half the North Korean army (not to mention several irritating helicopters) hound you without mercy. There is less time where you feel like you're suddenly stuck in a lesser alien-blasting FPS while dull extra-terrestrial entities bob around. This is still a spectacular Crysis, still a bombastic and hugely macho Crysis, but it's also a more refined and exhilarating Crysis this time round.
The island setting is the same, and the story still revolves around the same events we've seen in the original Crysis. In Warhead, however, the protagonist is Sykes – affectionately and accurately known as Psycho. He's the gritty Brit special forces agent you probably tried to ignore in the cut-scenes last time around.
Having survived the disastrous early stages of that mission, Sykes kicks off as a one-man army attacking North Korean outposts, but soon gets caught up in a search and recover mission centred on a mysterious container. This is what Hitchcock would have called a Macguffin – the object that provides Sykes with the motivation he needs to run through a series of levels, racing from objective to objective to objective to objective.
And this is where Warhead gets interesting. While it pains me to say it, Crysis was sometimes a bit too open, leaving you with patches of exploration or navigation where you fumbled around in search of a route to the next objective, enlivened only by the occasional outpost or patrol.
Warhead follows its predecessor in always giving you room to explore and a whole host of ways in which you might tackle any given situation, but at the same time it uses objectives and geography to provide you with a clear, central path from A to B. Partly as a result, it feels more orchestrated, with each battle flowing on neatly to the next, and the sense of danger (and the difficulty level) steadily ramping up as each chapter pushes towards a natural climax. As a result, there's hardly any dead time. Warhead is all balls-to-the-wall action, all the way.