Crysis: Grand Theft Boato

By Alec Meer on October 29th, 2007 at 1:35 pm.

While John’s spent his time in the Crysis demo struggling to shoot men in the face, I’ve spent mine exploring. Here I am, after all, on a beautiful tropical island and with a pocketful of superpowers – there must something to do other than murder people. It’s time to test the limits of this supposedly open environment.

An obvious sightseeing attraction would seem to be the local wildlife. Sure enough, I find a turtle tottering around the coast. It’s a fairly laid-back turtle, allowing me to sprint right up to it, briefly aim a gun at its head, think better of it and pick the beast up instead. Aw, cute. I’ve a pet turtle. Um. Now what? Shelley here isn’t terribly practical battle equipment, so I need to put it down, I guess. What’s the Drop button? A thorough scour of the options menu reveals the terrible truth. There is no Drop. There is only Throw. Oh. God. No. Shelley, what have I done to you?

I look away from the screen as I tap F, too disgusted by what I’m now forced to do to possibly want to see it. There’s a muted ‘thunk’. I look back. The turtle’s on its back a few feet away, not moving. Maybe it’s okay, just a little –aheh – shellshocked, and in need of being gently placed back on its feet. I pick it up and… oh man, not again. Not only have I killed poor Shelley, but now I’m going to have to play Frisbee with its corpse too. [Edit - the right mouse button, it's been discovered, drops stuff. Which isn't mentioned by the game anywhere, the button only being listed in the keybindings as alt-fire. So I still maintain Shelley's tragic demise wasn't solely my fault. Also, if you wade into water whilst holding the turtle, it immediately and mysteriously expires].

Right, that’s it. I’m a monster by accident, so I might as well make the best of my shattered moral code. Studiously ignoring the objective arrow on my map, I merilly powerjump along coastal cliffs in the opposite direction, feeling gloriously unrestricted – Promethetard Unbound. Soon enough, I find more wildlife – a half-dozen crabs cheerfully scuttling along the tideline. Grimly aware of the limits of my possible interactions with these contented crustaceans, I attempt to grab one. The bugger runs away, and disappears underneath a rock. So I turn on my invisibility mode and snatch at another. Apparently stealth mode doesn’t work on crabs. Hmm. I retreat to a safe distance, until all the crabs have returned from their respective hidey-holes and bunched together again. Gosh, they look happy.

They look less happy two seconds later, after the grenade I lob at ‘em sees the skies rain crab corpses. Crysis’ cutting-edge engine does its work here, the tiny bodies bobbing up and down in the shallow waters with eerie believability (though a few dismembered pincers wouldn’t have gone amiss). Now I can grab one. Whee! Splat. And another. Whee! Splat. There’s movement in my peripheral vision; two crabs survived the genocide and have foolishly returned to their stomping ground. That’s when a really good idea hits me. I take aim and fire. Dink! Oh, how terribly disappointing. Apparently I can’t kill a crab with another crab (earlier, I established that I can’t kill a man by throwing live chickens at his head either, though I’m since informed it is possible). Another grenade it is, then.

I’d diligently emptied most of the island of humanity before I set off on my Psychotic David Attenborough adventure, but a little further along the coast I find a few stragglers, conveniently standing next to a bright red explosive barrel. Boom. Buh-bye now. Still standing amidst the rubble and blood is a fine treasure. A speedboat awaits me on a small wooden platform. I’d seen a couple of patrol boats off in the distance, but I hadn’t entertained the notion of seizing one myself until now. Pleasingly, I’m offered ‘Press F to enter’ as I approach the boat, so I clamber in and rev it up. Nothing happens. Understandable really, what with it being on a drydock platform and not in the sea. I hunt for a way to get it to the water. There’s no button to lower the platform, no option to push, and a few wasted ammo clips fail to shatter the damnable wood it’s resting on. Looks like I’m stymied by another of Crytek’s bizarre interface choices. One thing’s left – my magic-o-suit’s super-strength mode. Kerpow! I deliver a devastating uppercut to the prow of the boat, sending it flipping end over end and, miraculously, it splash-lands in the water the right way up. Well, I’ve got my boat, but I’m pretty sure punching it into the ocean wasn’t proper maritime procedure.

I jump into the no longer land-locked speedboat, and head for the high seas. I’m dead in a matter of seconds, thanks to one of those aforementioned Korean patrol boats locking onto my weaponless transport. Okay, try again. I’m gonna need a bigger boat. But this time I want one of their boats, because they’ve got dirty great guns on the front.

With the demo’s limited selection of weapons – I could really do with something snipery to take the ships down from a distance – and the fact a motorised boat can move a lot faster than even a guy with superspeed, my determined piracy takes a while. Eventually, I fell the guy in the gunner’s seat, and the boat glides to a halt. I swim over to it, and notice there’s a second guy behind the wheel, still alive, but stood motionless, apparently unconcerned that the guy who just shot his mate is mere feet away. As I draw alongside the boat, he guns the motor and darts off. Then stops again. I catch up, he moves away. And again and again. This is really embarrassing – the guy’s just taking the mickey out of me, like a school bully cruelly holding a nerd’s textbook just higher than he can reach. At one point I get close enough to be sucked into the propeller and almost killed. Finally, I turn on superjump, and an epic leap thrusts me out of the water and onto the boat, whereupon I deliver a savage beating to its skipper.

I trawl the seas in my prize, eventually stumbling upon a second patrol boat. I don’t know how they realise I’m an enemy even while I’m way off in the distance. Perhaps it’s their heightened military senses. Perhaps they’re under a shoot first, ask questions later directive. Perhaps one of the guys originally in this boat slept with their wives. Or perhaps it’s the bloodied corpse of the gunner slumped in the front seat. Either way, I’m in trouble. Especially because, as it turns out, said corpse is right in my line of sight. I can’t see what I’m shooting at because there’s a dead Korean guy in the way. Turns out corpses are about the only thing in Crysis you can’t pick up and coldly hurl into the distance. This renders my boat pretty useless. To take down the other ship, I have to evacuate mine, flee to an island and repeat the awkward sniping-without-sniper-rifle rigmarole.

Then it’s back onto the boat, and off into the horizon, where a row of battleships await. My commander issues a warning that I’m going off-target by heading this way – apparently all that exploding crab stuff was relevant to the mission, then? – which I ignore. The binoculars reveal that the battleships aren’t just a flat bitmap stuck at the end of an infinite horizon, but actual 3D objects. Can I board them? I sally forth, just about reaching the point where I’m close enough for one of the ships to fill the width of my screen, which is when it fires a giant insta-death torpedo at me. Guess I’ve just hit Crysis’ invisible wall, then. But it’s a pretty clever invisible wall as they go, something more palpably insurmountable than an obstacle you can’t quite jump over, or an unseen force pushing me away. Good thinking, Crytek.

Well, I had a lot of fun, and certainly squeezed several hours’ entertainment out of a 45-minute demo, which bodes very well for having unique adventures in the full game. But I’m a little concerned at the trend demonstrated during my experiments – Crytek have made this incredible-looking world and filled it with life and incidental detail, but seem to have neglected the options to meaningfully interact with it. I shouldn’t have to hurl a turtle to its death because there isn’t a drop button. I shouldn’t have to beat up a boat to make it slide into the water. I shouldn’t have to fire blind because I’m not allowed to move a slumped corpse out of the way of my gun. Then again, this is a first-person shooter. Clearly, for all its decoration, the game’s only intent is for me to kill people. It seems a slight waste of a remarkable environment, but I’m dead excited about seeing what I can get up to in the full game. Anticipation: Super-high. If only because I want to experiment with how long I can survive whilst carrying a live chicken.

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23 Comments »

  1. Chis says:

    Hmm, what’s the best way to get around the other side of the island? If it’s possible at all in this demo… (I’d guess you have to continue around the beach instead of following your teammate)

  2. Thiefsie says:

    hehe that was great… I did the exact same thing with that boat when I found it. hehe BRUTE FORCE solves everything. Chicago governator styleee…

    Unfortunately the propellers on the boats don’t spin? I was expecting to be hurt by them but no :(

    There are lots of amazing little touches present in Crysis, but also sadly quite a few little things missing that would make it seem that much more excellent.

  3. Theory says:

    Chickens can kill people if you throw them in strength mode. Is there a better way to go out than a rooster to the face?

  4. Alec Meer says:

    Perhaps I just banged my head on the underside of the boat, then. Something non-gun-based certainly wounded me horribly when I swam underneath it.

  5. Thiefsie says:

    Hmmm I was running on medium… so perhaps that has an effect? Weird nonetheless

    Maybe just a once-off bug. I’ll have to re-try it and see :)

  6. Willem says:

    Sharks.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I’ve found right-clicking the mouse drops things, at least it did the barrel I had, I think. Poor Shelley..

  8. Alec Meer says:

    By jove, you’re right. It’s not listed in the options menu at all -t he only binding for mouse 2 is alt-fire, which I was reticent to press whilst animal-carrying because both primary fire and F chucks things.

  9. Carey says:

    Ooo shark rumours again. There were supposed to be sharks in the waters off the coast in Far Cry but I never found one. I always got wasted by indefatigable patrol choppers (much like Alec’s torpedo adventure) anytime i swam out far enough to find a toothy playmate.

  10. Alec Meer says:

    The boss dude warns about sharks if you swim too far out, but yeah, the torpedo always hits first. I certianly didn’t see any. Plus, I survived whatever it was that hurt me, whereas presumably a shark would have come back to finish me off.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Yay, I did something good!

    Now to go shark hunting. Also, where are the chickens? I never seem to find them.

  12. arqueturus says:

    Having tracked through the initial valley in the darkness that gradually becomes dawn, incredibly atmospheric I must say. I come to the top of the rise and come and look down at the enemies I face.

    I access the situation, crawl through the long grass whilst cloacked. Finding my perfect vantage spot I take careful aim ane start shootin’ chickens.

    “buuuuuck”

    *POP*

  13. arqueturus says:

    Bah, curse my rubbish typing (and the lack of an edit option).

  14. feffrey says:

    I modified my easy settings. I set it not use an power for cloak or run. (havn’t got strength working yet) I swam at high speed while diving deep as I could and made it out to the destroyers. You can’t get on them sadly. you can jump but you can not jump high enough to get on the boat. There is also no crew on board and the destroyers will stop firing missiles when you get too close

    to modify your game, open diff_easy.cfg in notepad (or equivalent) in this folder
    C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\Crytek\Crysis SP Demo\Game\Config
    you can change how much health you have, options, reaction time of enemies, suit energy costs etc.

  15. Thelps says:

    See, now I resolutely refuse to download the demo simply because people keep saying how fun it is. If people said it was ‘meh’ or crap then I would download it, to see if it appealed to me and if the full version was worth it, but since it looks like a damned good laugh, I don’t want to spoil the game by milking the demo dry.

    Odd mentality, I know.

  16. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I agree that stuff like not being able to easily move a dead body is kind of a downer. Still, the only reason we complain about any of this is because Crysis in the first place is far more free and open than other shooters. You only discover your limits when you’re able to push them, or something.

  17. Chis says:

    Thelps, I can sympathise. I’ve already spent about 3+ hours on this demo, plus another half hour just moving around in Sandbox (not much else to see on this Island map btw, the aliens are in there but disappear “in-game”). I haven’t been so psyched for a game since Bioshock (and System Shock 2 before it).

    Unless the rest of the game turns out to be resolutely linear, I forsee 9/10 ratings all over the place, on release.

  18. Chis says:

    Well heck, I just spent another 2 hours playing AGAIN. This time going very much for the GTA style of play. Funny how it’s easy to run out of vehicles so quickly in Crysis… or perhaps that’s just my shite driving?

    I think the last time I spent so much time on a “demo” would have to be the shareware release of Blood!

    (P.S. I don’t see any point playing GTA any more: the driving in Crysis is a lot more satisfying, and you cannot destroy buildings in GTA. Instant win to Crytek.)

  19. Anach says:

    I think for the most part I find a simple FPS lacking in depth, because I’ve played many hybrid FPS/RPG or MMOs.

    Once I was a plain FPS fanatic, enjoying the simple playstyle of a, point A to point B, and kill whatever you see along the way, game.

    Now I want to be able to free roam, talk an interact with NPCs, pick up stuff (drop stuff), tame the wildlife, sit in chairs, steal cars/boats/planes, and almost anything else I can think of.

    So one day, EA may simply decide to make one game engine, where all the individual developers work on a compatible plugin-game system, Where I can hop in my car (or someone else’s) and head off through the city to the drift racing, then jump in a stolen fighter jet and head to a desert island to shoot some koreans, afterwards go watch a game of soccer and control the players.

    Then I will no longer need Real life.

  20. Eschatos says:

    Try seeing how far you can survive while carrying the flare on the beach at the landing zone. It’s quite difficult, at least on Delta.

  21. Gestalt says:

    This added a few hours of fun:
    This german guy Sile made a modified demo-map that has all weapons, more enemies, the chopper,tanks and an alien(!) wich you get to fight.

    DL: http://crysis.4thdimension.info/forum/showpost.php?p=64125&postcount=149

    Its the one called Demo Funmap#5

    Instllation says to replace the Level.pak file located in:
    Crysis SP Demo\Game\Levels\island
    with the one from the download. Save the original somewhere.

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