Hillside panic cry anomaly

Posted June 28th 2006 (under a different title), expanded April 10th 2019

Associated movies… BCM345

Taking the last survivors out

Want to witness Grunts and Jackals screaming panic cries non-stop? Of course you do. And it's easy! Here's how - which you can see demonstrated in BCM345.

Drive to the high right entrance of the hillside survivor area. Leaving any passengers outside, ferry out or kill the hillside survivors - you can do a bit of both if you like - and drive back out, potentially getting a checkpoint. Because the hillside area no longer has any living survivors in it, the game considers the area dealt with. The enemy now lose their territorial restrictions and become free to chase you.

Attract them up to the entrance and back off. As they approach, you'll notice something strange and amusing when you're far back enough. The Grunts and Jackals issue panic cries for no apparent reason! The Grunts repeatedly shout things like "He's gonna kill us all!" and "Little people first!" as if collectively going through their panic repertoire on fast-forward, whilst the Jackals screech like the world of beaks is coming to an end. I've never witnessed anything like it before. They sound totally freaked out, and I don't know why. If you move too far forward, the cries stop after a few seconds.

Weird panic cries ensue!

You can listen in safety behind the large rock to the right of the entrance, or from behind the cover of a Warthog placed near the entrance. But if you play on Easy you won't really need cover most of the time, so it's a good difficulty level to use for this bit of fun.

Notice that the Grunts and Jackals aren't properly panicking though. They're doing panic cries but not panic animation. Indeed, their normal aggressive actions proceed even as they cry out. So, their cries don't match their actions. It's an odd state of affairs which I haven't noticed anywhere else in the game (nor at the other entrance).

One other observation: while the anomaly is in effect, you don't hear Grunts saying things like "Kill you!" when they're shooting. The panic cries appear to have priority, and totally dominate.

Incidentally, you can also enjoy slaying the covies of course, when you've had enough of listening to the panic cries. See Hillside entrance battles for a full discussion of combat aspects.

The initial trigger zone

I already mentioned that you need to be back far enough to get the anomalous crying. You need to be in the relevant 'trigger zone'. Initially the zone extends up slightly ahead of the flashing ground-light on the right, and its leading edge seems to go diagonally down the exit slope, though not in a very straight way I think. You can easily get a sense of the boundary if you do some testing.

Hearing panic cries deep, after deepening the trigger zone

Deepening the trigger zone

When I returned to this topic to make BCM345, I made a new finding. It's possible to make the trigger zone extend into the survivor area by quite a way! The exact workings are unclear (more testing would be needed), but if you drive up to the hill again (perhaps you need to wait for some covies to start nearing the entrance first) and hang around for several seconds, that can be enough to make the change.

As seen in my movie, the new trigger zone allows you to get the panic cry anomaly while well inside the hillside area. I haven't tried to map the boundary of this trigger zone but I notice that you can get quite deep on the left and also on the right.

Dropship arrival

When the reinforcement dropship spawns (namely when the enemy count falls below seven), the anomalous cries end for good (Grunt and Jackal behaviour returns to normal). If you avoid the associated checkpoint though, you can still revert to get back to the anomaly. Enemy threat would delay the checkpoint for example.