By Neil Schneider
Some time ago, we reviewed Crysis, Crytek’s flagship game which served as the sample product and motivator to buy DirectX 10 graphics cards and upgrade PCs all over the world. While artistically successful with breathtaking jungle and beach environments, its leading criticism was its requirement for over the top graphics hardware and an all around high performance PC.
Of course, Crytek did not take this sitting down, and responded with Crysis Warhead (CW). Crysis Warhead is touted as an expansion pack, but it’s really a standalone game that doesn’t require a pre-install of the original Crysis. Additional benefits are supposed to include higher performance on mid-range graphics cards, a better multiplayer experience, and a great new story.
As with the original game, Crysis Warhead is a science fiction first person shooter that takes place on a mysterious island on the South China Sea in the year 2020. This time, you play “Psycho” Sykes, a colorful character who pretty much ends up on the other side of the island by accident. Throughout the game, you need to track down and follow a mysterious cargo container and take out everything and everyone who gets in your way.
The Crysis franchise isn’t exactly brand new, so please excuse the spoiler. Since this is an expansion, Crysis Warhead doesn’t take very long to turn the tropical island into a frozen alien wasteland, so expect very diverse environments.
The big change in this game is a whole lot of action! If the original Crysis was a nail biting transition from one battle to the next, Crysis Warhead is a non-stop ride of machine gun fire, tank cannons, and experimental weaponry. As CW didn’t waste any time hiding alien secrets, players will benefit from a wide array of enemies much sooner in the game.
Compared to the original Crysis, the graphics quality is very similar. In my opinion, the environments aren’t quite as open ended as they were in the original, but you will still find a lot to explore. This is a non-issue though because you will be too busy shooting at things and trying to stay alive. The game plays more like continuous action movie trailer than a stop and go story line.
My favorite sequences included a train ride in the jungle, exploring a frozen aircraft carrier, and raiding a heavily armed military base.
There are a few new toys including the Mini-SMGs (think Uzi, but two them!), a cool grenade launcher, and the Plasma Accumulator Cannon (PAX). You will also get to use more vehicles in the game and have fun with your Nano Suit. The Nano Suit gives your character super strength, fast healing, a cloaking device, and rocket speed – sorry, only one function at a time!
Now! The moment you have all been waiting for! How is Crysis Warhead in stereoscopic 3D? Let’s find out!
There are two stereoscopic 3D driver camps. iZ3D’s 1.10 Beta 3 drivers, and the modern 188.85 stereoscopic 3D drivers by NVIDIA.
AMD has been kind enough to supply some hardware so MTBS can improve its testing equipment. The iZ3D LLC system specs include:
AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
AMD 4850 GPU
Vista 32 Bit
iZ3D 22” Monitor
Crysis Warhead is very much a mixed blessing with the iZ3D driver solution. The only enhancement I could see is limited compatibility with shadows on the low setting – and even this can cause problems with certain environments (e.g. a dark film on a building).
Unfortunately, there are additional problems including doubled flame glow and corona effects. The good news is these can be fixed by manually turning some graphics features off in the game console.
Please follow these steps:
1. Press the “~” key to get into the console.
2. Type “con_restricted 0” in the console.
3. Type “r_Coronas 0” in the console.
4. Type “r_Glow 0” in the console.
If you are happy with these adjustments, there is a way to permanently put them in your system settings, and this information is available at Tweakguides.com.
For out of screen effects, you will need to activate the “Simple Stereo Projection Method” to keep your gun from doubling too much.
You will still find a lot of problems with this game, though. Some objects will have a doubled ghost in one eye, for example.
In S-3D mode, the gaming performance leaves much to be desired compared to the original Crysis, and whatever improvement they made with Warhead does not translate to stereoscopic 3D. You will be able to enjoy 95% of the single player campaign in S-3D, but forget about the multiplayer component. I am hopeful that iZ3D’s 2.0 driver architecture will be better optimized for this game.
Our NVIDIA solution is based on the following specifications:
AMD Athlon 64X2 AM2, 4400+ 2.3Ghz
PC2-5300 4GB RAM
NVIDIA 8800GTS 512
Vista 32 Bit
Samsung Syncmaster 2233RZ / GeForce 3D Vision Glasses
NVIDIA 188.85 Stereo Drivers
The NVIDIA drivers did not allow us to properly save images with this game. Just as well, because the GeForce 3D Vision solution is equally plagued by anomalies.
Even with NVIDIA’s recommendations of reducing shadows to low or off, shaders and post processing to low or off, and motion blur to off, the game has limited playability. Leading anomalies include doubled images or objects in one eye, doubled crosshairs in the scopes, post processing interfering with the S-3D effect, and a disproportionately separated weapon when out of screen effects are activated. In a best case scenario, fire and smoke effects will be rendered in 2D or at screen depth compared to the other objects on the screen.
I think NVIDIA was far too generous when they ranked Crysis: Warhead in their “good” category for S-3D compatibility. We scored NVIDIA’s GeForce 3D Vision slightly less than iZ3D because they required more drastic reductions in eye candy to get the game working.
There is a silver lining to this review. As reported at the Game Developers Conference, Crytek implemented native stereoscopic 3D support in CryEngine 2 and CryEngine 3, and the technology is available to anyone who wants to license it.
I sampled their engine running a customized undersea simulator complete with an iZ3D monitor and motion chair, and I am very confident that when implemented, their game engine will show its true potential in future S-3D releases.
In the meantime, if you have a hankering to play some Crysis in S-3D, go with the original. Ironically, it performs and looks much better in stereoscopic 3D than Crysis Warhead.
As for Crysis Warhead, you will get some playability, but the current S-3D experience does not reflect what their product line is truly capable of.
How Memorable Is This Game
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
iZ3D Overall Rating:
NVIDIA Overall Rating: