As in last year's game, expect to encounter dense jungle environments, barren ice fields, Korean soldiers and plenty of flying aliens. There's no denying that this is more of the same, except here it's a more tightly woven experience with a little less freedom to explore.
With a top-end PC (although Warhead has supposedly benefited from an improved game engine, you'll still need a fairly beefy system) rest assured, developer Crytek has enhanced more than just the graphics engine.
Vehicles are more fun to drive, firefights are more intense and focused, and aliens do more than just float around you. More emphasis on the open-ended environments would have been welcome, but a more exciting (though shorter) campaign, a new multiplayer mode, and a whole bunch of new maps make Crysis Warhead an excellent expansion to one of last year's best shooters.
Crysis Warhead has good looks. As mentioned before, the game looks better than Crysis, and it runs better too. Our test machine that struggled a bit to run the original at high settings ran Warhead smoothly with the same settings. Yet as much as you may have heard about Crysis' technical prowess, you'll still be impressed when you feast your eyes on the swaying vegetation, surging water, and expressive animations. Outstanding graphics. Couldn't say more here.
We up the ante a little more by enabling DX10. Though we really wanted to push 4x AA here, we notice that current day graphics cards yet again run out of memory once they reach the highest resolutions, the result is HDD activity going up a lot affecting the framerate dramatically, disallowing an objective measurement of our time demo.
So 2x AA in combo with the gamers quality mode is what we test at, which looks sparkling to be honest.
Anti-Aliasing 2x MSAA
In game Quality mode Gamer
I was surprised to see this. Crysis WarHEAD typically was one of these titles where NVIDIA always had a lead. And sure if you look at the 4870 and GTX 260 you can see what I mean. However the 4890 does bring additional performance to the table.
The combo of the faster SKU and then recent driver tweaks from ATI's side gives the product a really sharp edge.
If you look at recent Catalyst driver history, it explains a lot:
8.12 Crysis Warhead + 2-3%
9.2 Crysis Warhead DX10 gains up to 20%
That's over 20% additional performance within a 3 month time frame.
As a result of everything combined the game is very playable at a resolution of 1600x1200, in terms of framerate versus our image quality settings. The Crysis engine remains a tough nugget for any current (single GPU) graphics card though.
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