Xbox 360 Preview

Warface

Crytek brings some solid no-frills warfare to the 360

Warface has already had a good run of things. On the PC it has managed to recruit over 9 million active players in Russia alone.

Crytek are pretty adept at building first-person shooters. Since they created the Far Cry series in 2004 they have gone on to build three successful games in the Crysis series and alongside those what is arguably the most visually astounding game engine in the business with the CryEngine.

Part of what made Warface such an impressive proposition on the PC is that it's a browser-based online FPS built using the CryEngine which speaks volumes about the versatility of the technology but what does Warface's arrival on the Xbox 360 say? Warface

Warface is a very simple proposition. It drops players into a war between the US government and a mysterious and evil private military contractor called Blackwood.

There are two different play options. In the co-op mode players get the option of taking on daily challenge missions against Blackwood forces with up to five comrades be they friends or random players looking to shoot stuff.

As a counterpoint to the co-op there's the competitive multiplayer which offers three different modes, Free-for-all, Team Deathmatch and Plant The Bomb.

The co-op is where Crytek seems to want players to invest most of their time when they load up Warface. The rewards both in experience and in-game currency are much larger than in the multiplayer although there is far more potential for earning both in the competitive side of things but only if you are skilled enough. Warface

Co-op mode is a lot of fun and fills the void where you migth see a single-player campaign in a retail release. Missions in the beta vary from simple clearing out small towns in the Balkans or Afghanistan, to escorting armoured vehicles, rescuing a convoy and even taking down an exceptionally tough mech.

Having played the beta on the PC at the beginning of last year it's impressive just how far the game has come. The co-op levels have been refined to offer a more interesting challenge and the mech battle mission especially has become more challenging and at the same time less frustrating.

Helping your teammates as a medic or an engineer carries excellent rewards although players must earn the right to play as these classes by battling in the game for 30 minutes and an hour respectively. It's not as restrictive as it sounds either.

There are training modules for each of the four classes – rifleman, sniper, medic and engineer - that offer decent rewards for completing them like the use of better weaponry and gear for the first day's play and in-game cash to buy better gear once your new toys have expired. Warface

These training modules work much better than they did during the PC beta and they flow nicely into the game allowing players to hit the ground running whether they want to hit the co-op or the competitive side of things.

While Crytek may want the bulk of players hitting the co-op they also recognise the value of the competitive side of Warface. Free-for-all and Team Deathmatch modes do exactly what they say on the tin and are easily as fast-paced and enjoyable as their counterparts in Call Of Duty but refreshingly lacking in all of the other nonsense like perks and prestige that come with Activision's behemoth FPS series.

Plant The Bomb is a rare surprise and as I found myself enjoying this the most. It's balanced nicely to encourage teams to include a good selection of the classes. Both teams take turns at planting the bomb at one of two potential target sites or protecting the target sites. Either eliminate the enemy team or plant/disarm the bomb to win the match.

Each player has only one life in Plant The Bomb mode but they can be revived if a medic reaches them within 30 seconds. Engineers receive a speed bonus for either planting ot disarming the bomb which makes them tactically valuable too. Warface

Because of these different conditions Plant The Bomb matches can be quite tense and tactical and offer a surprisingly compelling depth of play especially for a free-to-play FPS.

Finally we should talk monetization because this is where free-to-play games live or die. Free-to-play games walk a fine line between making players aware of the in-game purchases but not forcing them down players' throats at every opportunity.

So far it seems that Crytek has balanced the game so that skilled play wins the day, especially in the competitve modes. The in-game purchases are discreet but available so if a player is impatient and wants to buy a weapon or piece of gear before they've earned enough in-game cash to do so they can but they must play the game to unlock the item in the store first.

There is another piece to the monetization puzzle here as well on the co-op side of things. Respawn coins can be bought from the store allowing players to revive themselves in the co-op modes without the aid of a medic.

If you don't want to use them you can wait for a medic or even spectate until the team reaches the next checkpoint where ammunition and health are refreshed along with any downed team members.

It's something akin to jamming coins into arcade machines to get more continues and because of that it feels okay although I'll probably just wait for the assist or the checkpoint rather than pumping my hard-earned cash into Xbox Live just to respawn a bit quicker.

Warface has learned a lot since it launched on the PC and it has become quite a nicely refined experience on the Xbox 360. It may still be in beta with limited maps and modes compared to the full PC release but it feels much more like a complete experience. It also benefits from the solid Xbox Live infrastructure which makes the experience a lot more smooth.

It may lack some of the flair or grandeur of it's triple-A retail counterparts but Warface's no-frills approach and solid gameplay certainly has the potential to win over all but the most diehard of Call Of Duty fans.

Warface is currently in open beta on the Xbox 360 and sign-ups are available over on the Warface website. There you can also sign-up for Crytek's Gface free-to-play platform and download the PC version.