MARTIN BADOWSKY » LEVEL DESIGNER
Crysis Warhead
PC (released Sep 2008)

Near the end of 2007, I went to Budapest to the newly-opened Crytek satellite studio to give the Level Designers there hands-on CryEngine training. After shipping Crysis, it was announced that they were looking for people to go to Budapest to work on the Crysis expansion and having already fallen in love with the city, I jumped at the chance.

Working on Crysis Warhead was really fun! Since we already knew what had been well-received in Crysis (and what hadn't) it was all about cranking up the dial on what worked and spending time plugging the holes.

Large AAA productions involve a lot of people who contribute to the game and the level, the work you see below is the hard work of an entire team.

Adapt or Perish

“The most awe-inspiring level starts off with you fighting Nanosuits, then moves into a remarkable hovercraft chase over frozen seas [...] after which the level is punctuated by Korean battles against a goliath Hunter, squad combat against aliens, and a fight with another Hunter that puts the closing boss of the original to shame. It's a frenzy of intelligent and original level design, far away from the Far Cry model that Crysis aped.”

- Will Porter, PC Zone (Sept 08)

This level takes place in parallel to the events in Crysis where the Alien Ship flash-freezes the island. The player survives the freeze event and chases down Colonel Lee for the MacGuffin of this game; the container.

The only way we were going to do a chase sequence in a Crysis game was if the player was allowed to opt-in or out of the vehicle at any time! We wanted to retain the freedom and agency the series is known for, even though this made the level challenging from a balancing and scripting point of view.
I was responsible for the layout and scripting from the start until we shipped.

Frozen Paradise

“[The previous encounter] is a wonder, as is a later defensive mission that has you fending off a series of aliens, and requires you to shift focus frequently and use every weapon in your inventory.”

- Kevin VanOrd, GameSpot (Sept 08)

Continuing on, the player must make their way through a frozen aircraft carrier, a river bed and a mining complex in pursuit of Colonel Lee.

This level was really fun to work on because I was able to mix up the pacing by making each encounter different, all culminating in a defend scenario which has friendly AI and a whole host of the Alien AI archetypes including new ones we added for Warhead.
As for the other frozen level, I took the map from layout until shipping.

Fun fact, 'Frozen Paradise' was also the codename for the first Crysis game!

Below the Thunder

“The mines are an on-foot rollercoaster, with beautifully gloomy shadows in which enemies can lurk, and fights erupting when you least expect it.”

- Christian Donlan, Eurogamer (Sept 08)

The player continues their search for the container through unstable underground mines that lead to a train station.

I was moved onto this level to script it as people had been shuffled around and it was behind schedule. The artwork had mostly been done, but I did make alterations and additions (such as flanking routes) to try to make the level less linear - I was actually inspired by the first level of Halo, The Pillar of Autumn, and how they were able to make linear corridors into a more open layout that promoted flanking opportunities.
I also created all of the scripted sequences as the cinematic team was swamped with work.