BCM160 - Maw Banshee snatch
(5:30) Level 10 ('The Maw') on Easy. Just before I get to some exploration with a snatched Banshee, here's a movie on maximizing your flight time. That isn't critical of course, but the drive is good fun and I put quite a bit of work into speeding mine up, so I wanted to cover the topic. In this demo on PAL Xbox I end up with 3:50 left on the countdown, which I think must be close to the limit of what can be done. On NTSC/PC you can do significantly better. The countdown starts several seconds later, and I think the hog goes a touch faster too.
Released October 11th 2015, gameplay recorded October 9th 2015.
00:02 (Prompt boarding) Even before the drive starts, there's time to be lost. Transfer to the hog as fast as you can, because the countdown doesn't wait for you to board before it starts. I recommend using two jumps; one to get to the parking bay opening, and one to jump directly into the hog (which I think is marginally faster than running around and boarding from the side).
00:33 (Good getaway) Once you're facing the same way as the hog, hit the pedal to get it going, but quickly back off so that it just eases out. I know it's tempting to keep the pedal down, but then the tail is liable to end up swinging around which can easily lead to a collision at the exit. Be patient for a moment. Once you're aiming nicely for the exit with tail-swing under control, floor it and aim to get a helpful bounce off the burning hog. You can retain good speed and it sets you up nicely for the slope ascent. I think it's a good way of exiting, but of course, some bounces are better than others; there's a bit of skill in it.
00:46 (Chamber 1) For chamber 1 weave around the pillars. The entry into the pillar area is important and quite easy to get wrong. Here I ease off on speed slightly to help, but perhaps you can do it staying flat out. Try to get a good flow and retain decent speed. I do ok here but I'm sure it could be done a bit better by keeping in tighter to the pillars (I don't consider myself a weaving wizard, at this point in time). After the third pillar, exit to the side for a long outer swerve (a finish I came up with myself, though it wouldn't surprise me if other folk do it too, rather than going around the final pillar). As you approach the ramp, try to avoid much contact with the underpass rim to the right, as it can scrub off a bit of speed and even unsettle your direction. Try to come off the ramp heading parallel to the tunnel, rather than still being at an angle.
01:21 (Chamber 2) For chamber 2 turn left to head along the raised walkway. In my play here I turn left fractionally early, getting a slight clip, but it doesn't matter much (it was a bit annoying though, because I normally get it right). It's important to line up for the narrow walkway well, because a touch on a side can get the hog jiggling about, causing speed loss. My passage here wasn't perfect as I got a faint touch on the rear left, but it was no trouble. After the walkway, try to skim along the right curve to get into the tunnel on a good tight line, but make sure not to clip the tunnel entry of course.
01:35 (Shortcut) Go to the right of both pillars, and ease off slightly for the sharp left turn to help get a clean entry into the shortcut tunnel, without the back of the hog swinging around and hitting the opening. Try not to slow too much. Enter at good speed then go flat out. Avoid the yellow and black rims of the path; bouncing around will slow you down. Stay flat out for the exit, avoiding hitting the wall when you go over a small ramp.
01:50 (Chamber 3) For chamber 3 go left and use the raised walkway, as with chamber 2. However, this time you might like to do a significant corner cut, as long as you can still do a good job of lining yourself up for the walkway. It doesn't actually save any time as far as I can see, but it's kind of fun. Doing such a corner cut wasn't so viable with chamber 2 because that chamber had an object in the way.
02:09 (Chamber 4) For chamber 4 use the big ramp to get set up nicely for some weaving. In normal play you'd meet a few Grunts along the way, but in my play they were randomly missing due to the overloading. Landing well is important of course, and that partly depends on how well you lined yourself up on the ramp. After my landing I took a tail knock, but that's where experience can help. I anticipated the effect of the knock and thus avoided overcompensating and getting into a mess. I used it to get the hog swung around for the next pillar. Incidentally, I did a better jump and landing in BCM159 at about 5:43. That one was ideal. As for the ramp with the Shade on it, be careful about judging this. Try to avoid the raised rim of the underpass just beforehand, or it can unsettle your direction. I've messed up a good drive here on more than one occasion! Glancing contact with the Shade won't usually matter, but you don't want to scrape it too much.
02:40 (Final jump) Almost done now. Line up straight for the big jump down to the bridge, and cross your fingers that the hog doesn't nose-dive and lose you a couple of seconds. Oh, and stay flat out until the timer has stopped, of course.
03:05 (Chamber 1 flyover) You may be wondering about other route options, so here are some comments on a few. First of all, how about using chamber 1's 'flyover'? That's what I was doing to start with, in the manner shown here. But it's about 2 seconds slower and also horribly unreliable, with random aggravating prangs such as the two shown here. I'm not sure about NTSC/PC where I think the hog is faster, but on PAL Xbox the hog often doesn't clear the gaps in the flyover, even going flat out. See the first gap at about 3:11? I deliberately let the left wheel get a touch on a protuberance there, to raise it and help me clear the gap. If I don't do that, the hog would quite often impact the next section. However, with the second gap there's nothing I can do to avoid impacts. It's essentially random whether I clear it or not; and even if I do get past (frequently with some speed scrubbed off however), the hog then often goes rear-end-over in the underpass, as shown. Again, this is uncontrollable and essentially random. So nuts to the flyover!
03:50 (Chamber 1 left edge) This left edge route is potentially a touch faster than the central weaving I think, but it's hard to do well. It's so easy to clip something and get messed up, such as seen in the second clip. I used this route for a while but couldn't get a fast passage reliably enough, and it was quite painful bashing into things so often. The central weaving option turned out to be much more pleasant and flowing when I tried it, and I can do it more reliably too, so that's what I finally settled on.
04:20 (Chamber 2 big jump and bypassing) Ploughing straight down the middle of chamber 2 using the big jump may seem an attractive option but is actually about 1.5 seconds slower than using the left, even when the two jumps go well. If you bypass the big jump however, ok that's a lot better. It can be as fast as using the left. However, the jump down into central area and the later ramp jump are both a bit fickle, randomly losing you time, and also I think it's quite tricky to get the hog into the centre-line after bypassing the big jump, because it's quite a tight squeeze with an underpass to avoid on your right. So I consider this route less reliable than using the left. That said, it could be the best choice if you're not confident about lining up the hog for a clean passage over the narrow walkway.
04:51 (Continuation from earlier) Ok, back to my opening play. As it turns out, both Banshees are empty. I snatch mine, and the other one falls to the ground after finishing its scripted path. I try to blast it for fun, but all I get is the firing sound. A few moments later I am able to fire properly though, and I try to blast the hog down. It doesn't quite go, and needs another shot.
Closing remarks For me the trickiest parts of the drive are the two weaving sections. Those are where I'm mostly likely to mess up and lose a few seconds. I could definitely stand some improvement there, both for reliability and speed (tighter weaving). Then maybe I could realistically aim for 3:51 or perhaps even 3:52. But I'm happy enough with 3:50. When I made my first snatch, my drive had only been a 3:33! Mind you, that was before doing any optimization. When I put some effort into it, I speeded up by about 10 seconds. At that time I was still using the flyover, and would've been happy to manage 3:44. But then I looked at a few speed runs, which led to my tackling the first chamber differently; first using the tricky left squeeze, then trying weaving (though I soon modified it by doing a long outer swerve at the end).
My exact time was 3:50.24, which is weird. I've done some 3:50s before and I kept footage of three of them, and now that I've checked, those are all 3:50.24 too! Why do I like that time so much? Mind you, for one of the plays in BCM159 I got a 3:50.64, which I think is my best time so far.
One option I didn't cover concerns chamber 4. Instead of feeding into the weaving using the ramp, you can go around the left of the ramp. Personally I find that quite awkward. The ramp jump can go wrong too of course - the landing is fairly critical - but it has nice flow and I think it can be faster. At any rate, it goes well sufficiently often for me to stick with it.
In the course of your drive, there are various points at which you might like to glance at the timer to see how you're doing compared to your best. For example, at the exit of chamber 1 I'll be wanting to see at least 5:25, otherwise I know I'm already down on time. 5:26 would be nice. When I get to the high point halfway along the tunnel leading to chamber 4, I'm hoping for at least 4:29 or I know I'll be hard pressed to manage 3:50. And exiting the final bit of weaving, I'll want to see at least 4:08.
All the gameplay in this movie stems from the base save seen created in BCM159, with no further weapon accumulation. As such, it was quite unusual that the left Banshee was empty, rather than being manned.