Preview

Warface Preview (PC)

Warface. Let that title sink in for a moment. Roll it around your mouth, let it trip off the tongue and burst forth a throaty gravel befitting the machismo constrained in those seven scant letters. THIS. IS. WARFACE.

It’s a stupid title and there’s no point denying that it’ll put a good number of people off, but after playing Warface for even ten minutes, it’s readily apparent that Crytek is poking a little bit of fun at the FPS genre here. It’s hardly slapstick stuff, but everything in their F2P military shooter is amped up to 11 and purposefully breezy, making for an experience that’s both fast-paced and spirited, befitting the pick-up-and-play mantra that a game of this type has to fulfil.


Tying into that focus, Warface has its feet firmly planted in the sort of small-scale skirmish map that characterises Call of Duty multiplayer, but with its hands clenched firmly around Crysis’ visual style, gun attachments and frankly disturbing weapon fetishisation. Beneath those khaki uniforms, tinted scopes and extended magazines lies the ability to scurry around your environment in a John Woo-style sequence of dashes and slides however, potentially turning Warface into something casually approachable for fun rather than competition, and hopefully more than just another po-faced shooter for the teenage anger management crowd.

Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts first. Signing up to play (the service is currently in closed beta) is a quick and painless process of filling out details on a single form, verifying an email account and then logging into their GFACE website to select either a European or North American server. There’s a rudimentary friends list to tinker with, a chat client, and what seems to be hooks for other games to bring to your GFACE “table” (again, terminology ripped verbatim from the site) - so expect to see plenty more F2P titles from Crytek should Warface prove fearsome enough to scare the competition.

At the moment, both the American and European servers support matches for up to eight players, and they both launch the same browser plugin that underpins the action. Crytek seem to have done a cracking job streamlining the whole experience, with a small initial download getting you into a game selection screen within a minute or two. On subsequent loads the delay is negligible, and whilst the main game pops up as a small windowed box at first, the action quickly toggles to full-screen once you delve into any type of playable action. Of course, the usual SimCity disclaimer applies full-force here, and your experience may well vary once the game is launched in Western territories. These are beta conditions and best-case scenarios we’re currently playing under, and that cannot be stressed enough.

Providing the final release resembles the current experience however, then Warface will be a blast to play even if it’s plumbing territory familiar to most but ramped up in style. A standard class system underpins all of its game modes, which each different unit sporting a primary weapon and designated support functionality (assault players can drop ammo, engineers repair armour, medics top up health, etc). That means that, in theory, regular teams should be well-equipped to bring some Battlefield or TF2 co-op tactics into the arena for truly competitive play, but quick drop-in games are the sort of grab-bag experience that make the genre both brilliant and interminably frustrating.

And indeed it looks as if Crytek are banking on that small-team appeal being the lasting factor here. Competitive play accentuates teamwork with well-balanced level design, and there are also a series of five-person set piece co-op missions against increasingly difficult AI. Victory means XP and in-game financial reward, which unsurprisingly allows for the unlock of new weapons, decorations or attachments with perks. Whilst it’s impossible at the moment to gauge the impact of those paid-for unlocks, they certainly aren’t shy over offering specific advantages. Time will tell if that sits well with the general tone.

In action, the weapons feel great and the pacing seems to hover around the CoD template. Navigating your way around the cramped confines of most of the maps is broken up with the ability to vault obstacles, climb tall ledges with the aid of teammates and slide into a prone position at the click of a button, so if you’re turning a corner on two feet in Warface, you’re doing it wrong. That latter move may well be nerfed before the final version, however, as if ever there was a modern-day successor to the persistent bunny-hop, this sprint-and-slide may well take the honour. Players routinely spend the majority of their time in a horizontal position, guns blazing in an arc or - more frequently - piling ungracefully into a wall.



At least they look good whilst doing so. Warface appears to run on a modified version of the Cryengine 3, making it uncommonly pretty for a browser-based shooter. It can’t compete with the likes of Battlefield or Call of Duty of course, but it is incredibly polished for such a small install and had no problems running at upwards of 100fps at 1080p on a 660ti at maximum settings. Scalability should be fine for lower-end hardware, which is a crucial part of the F2P business model to get right.

Looking past the title then, Crytek may well have an interesting experiment on their hands here. It isn’t as deep or complex as the the likes of a Planetside, but then it’s not aiming to be. Warface is a small-scale quick-installing pick-up-and-play shooter with fun sensibility and a few upgrade and squad-building hooks to catch a long-term audience. Provided they can get the monetisation aspects correct and the roll-out of servers isn’t too painful, there’s certainly potential for it to find a happy home in many a browser window come launch day. We’ll be sure to check back in when it does.

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Comments

By nocutius (SI Elite) on Mar 28, 2013
nocutius
Might give it a go then every now and then, if it's really a bit over the top and doesn't take itself too seriously.

And yes, the name is terrible even after you learn that the game is not overly serious :)
By HiredGoon (SI Newbie) on Mar 30, 2013
HiredGoon
Was slightly interested until I read free to play.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Mar 31, 2013
nocutius
F2P doesn't automatically mean that the game is going to be bad anymore.
The good thing here is that trying out these games is free, if the game really is bad you simply delete it and never look back.
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Apr 04, 2013
Gale47
Most players say that the game is truly awesome. I did get into the closed beta but all I'm getting is the dreaded "Ready to play" screen. Google it if you're interested.
And yes, one more thing, Warface apparently works on REALLY low-end PC's so that's awesome. Even more so when you remember that this is CryEngine 3.
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Apr 04, 2013
Gale47
Most players say that the game is truly awesome. I did get into the closed beta but all I'm getting is the dreaded "Ready to play" screen. Google it if you're interested.
And yes, one more thing, Warface apparently works on REALLY low-end PC's so that's awesome. Even more so when you remember that this is CryEngine 3.
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Apr 04, 2013
Gale47
Most players say that the game is truly awesome. I did get into the closed beta but all I'm getting is the dreaded "Ready to play" screen. Google it if you're interested.
And yes, one more thing, Warface apparently works (and runs nicely) on REALLY low-end PC's so that's awesome. Even more so when you remember that this is CryEngine 3.