BCM176 - Segmented PAL speed run

(6:12) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Legendary. This is only a 'segmented' speed run (segments joined up at checkpoints where reverting was used), but it demonstrates what you could do in an actual run, by using a bridge Banshee grab. Namely, save a whole heap of time! I'm using PAL Xbox as ever. On NTSC you could get a much faster time of course, due to faster running and flying (it's a separate playing field). Let me emphasize that the grabbing method seen here isn't the only one available. Sligfantry's rim method might turn out to more reliable than my arch method, though possibly a bit slower; see his tutorial and related forum thread. Both methods are still under investigation, but clearly AOTCR speed runs are set to get a lot faster! If you want to see the gameplay which led me to this arch method, check out my previous movie BCM175.

UPDATE: I've written an article on this stuff: see Bridge Banshee grab.

Released April 4th 2016, gameplay recorded March 29th - April 3rd 2016.


00:02 (Welcoming party) Let me say from the outset that I'm not used to unconditional speed runs. I like to slay my covies, not whizz past them! Consequently I've had to work a few things out, such as getting past the welcoming party as quickly as possible. After experimenting I settled on this frag tactic. I deliberately throw it high, hoping to (a) shake up the Elites and maybe even shunt them towards the exit, and (b) kill or weaken some of the Grunts - who mustn't be underestimated here. It works fairly well. I lose only two health bars and I'm also able to grab the plasma pistol I wanted.

00:21 (First room) The main reason I want the plasma pistol is for stunning this Elite before he gets busy with his plasma rifle. That pretty much seals his fate. He's easily tagged, and I'm off on my way. My next little trick is to throw a frag ahead, bouncing it off a wall to clear the the way. Goes ok, though I'm obliged to briefly pause to make sure I'm not too close to the blast. That just leaves the reinforcement Grunts who head into the room from beyond, but they're easily taken by surprise. I waste a fraction of a second with a swipe after killing the one at the back. Instinct!

00:42 (Banshee grab) A slightly delayed checkpoint (triggered in the second section of the passage) occurs conveniently just as I'm reaching the bridge door, and that ends my first segment. This next segment is where I need to grab the Banshee quick - and you can bet it took a lot of tries! I start by getting rid of the Grunts, using an efficient procedure I honed. They can otherwise be trouble. My plasma throw is deliberately aimed to miss the far Grunt, because if I instead tag him, he'll wake up and possible get other Grunts activated. Better to leave him asleep as long as possible. My frag is bounced, to land between the nearer two Grunts and kill both. Then I go for a headshot on the last guy.

I'm still left with enough time to quickly position myself in a good spot, by down-aiming at a particular part of the bright arrow. That's something I'd been experimenting with the day before. When the Banshee gets sufficiently close - a matter of judgement from experience - I edge forward a bit. That causes me to become more obscured by the wall, and it's enough to make the Banshee break off the attack (he's lost sight of my chest, or something like that). I deliberately don't edge forward too much though, else the Banshee probably wouldn't then curve around. Indeed, it seems quite fickle as to whether it curves around anyway! But this time it does, and it collides with the arch.

I was hoping for it to get stuck there, but something unusual happens. The pilot pops out even without the Banshee getting stuck! Never seen that before (though at the moment I've only ever seen three ejections anyway). You may've noticed that I fired my plasma pistol. I hadn't usually been doing that on these tries, and I doubt it made any difference, though I plan to check just in case.

When the Banshee comes down, I see that it's going to need flipping, but I realize I'm dangerously close to a Shade. The last thing I want to do is hit X and end up boarding the turret by mistake! Or get squashed against it. I play things carefully and manage to flip the Banshee, and then a second time. For a moment I'm concerned that it's going to be obstinate and need more, but fortunately I'm able to board without further ado, and I'm off. Of course, I completely ignored the pilot during all of that. I could've afforded to lose health if he'd attacked harder. The only important thing was boarding as quickly as possible - as long as I didn't get killed that is!

For the record, I got the Banshee about 27 seconds after stepping onto the bridge. That's five seconds later than the best time I estimated in my HBO forum post about the speedrunning potential of Banshee grabbing, but I'm sure not complaining!

Incidentally, instead of edging forward like I did to make the Banshee veer off and around to collide with the arch, you could potentially move some other way or momentarily crouch - depending on your exact position, which likewise needn't be quite like mine was. Anything which has the desired effect. The issue of what's best is still under investigation.

01:19 (Heading for the cavern) During the flight towards the cavern, I use the passing movie time to say a bit about the grab. After getting through the door, I get the tunnel checkpoint, ending segment 2.

02:22 (Cavern exit door) With a saved checkpoint in the bag, I was able to put in some time working on getting through the rest of the level efficiently. The first part of that was to speedily operate the switch for the cavern exit door. Eventually I hit on this dangerous looking technique, flying directly at the wall just above it, and bailing at almost the last moment. You can potentially then press the switch while the Banshee bounces back overhead. I may've done a crouch in the hope of being safer, because there's a significant danger of getting yourself squashed. I forget. If I'd been doing an actual run, I certainly wouldn't have risked using this risky technique for the sake of saving only a little time - probably under a second.

After operating the switch, obviously what you want to do is end up going through the door at near top speed, as early as the opening gap will allow. Same as with a Ghost when doing a standard run. On this occasion I do a good job with the timing (better than I did at the previous door, where I was a bit lax).

02:40 (Heading for the twin bridges) Now there's a long section of uneventful flying to reach the second of the twin bridges, and naturally I try to take an efficient course which includes skimming a few cliff corners. I fill in some of the movie time with a bit of idle chat.

03:43 (Dismount at the twin bridges) After some experimenting, I decided that the most efficient way of dismounting and getting through the door was to cruise the Banshee in low across the door, bailing out just before. Goes smoothly here; but I've squashed myself a few times there, so you do need to be careful.

03:58 (Room after the twin bridges) I was aware that you can do a grenade jump to get up onto this first platform; I'd seen Scurty do it with a frag. But I spent some time checking it out, and it was clear that the odds would be stacked against me pulling it off, without considerably more practice. Since I wasn't fussed about saving every last second (the main thing was just to demonstrate using the Banshee grab), and since I also wanted to get my movie out super-fast, I elected to stick to my simple window-hop. Besides which, it isn't all that much slower.

04:30 (Platform hop) However, I do at least perform the relatively simple hop up onto the back of a platform, in the final room before getting back outside. It's a definite pressure point though. Many times in these octagonal rooms (which are rather similar to one another of course), I've failed such a hop due to the very short run-off you have available. Even Scurty has fluffed it! Hee hee! Happily, I do it ok.

05:02 (Final phase) After boarding my second ride, there are four doors to open. This is the part of the run I made the most improvement on, compared to my first clumsy effort. Gained over four seconds. I do a reasonably efficient job of operating the switches. I didn't check other speed runs for this; I just went my own way. I lose maybe half a second by over-anxiously bumping into the penultimate door, when it's obviously better to be cruising through at near top speed, but never mind. Job done!

Closing remarks The first segment of the movie was done back on March 29th. I was interested in grabbing the Banshee as quickly as possible (of course), and it made sense to focus on its first attack run, which is very predictable. I realized that if I were to actually get a success, that would be conclusive proof of the Banshee grab's import for speed running. So I decided to set things up with a possible segmented speed run in mind, in the event that I got a quick grab. Also I opted for Legendary because that would sound better than Heroic. This first segment took quite a lot of tries, while I was getting used to bypassing covies quickly. It seemed pretty good for time and the Grunts at the start of the bridge were in a convenient arrangement, so I stuck with it, rather than trying to shave the time down further.

It's a good job I sensibly paused to save the tunnel checkpoint, rather than continuing to the end the first time. Otherwise my time would've probably been over eight seconds slower! I picked up quite a lot of time as I gradually honed my technique in a few places; notably the fiddly business with the switches at the end, which I wasn't used to at all.

I've chosen to explicitly point out the segment joins in the movie. Part of the reason is because sometimes I've seen people heap praise on a segmented run as if they didn't realize it was just clips joined together, allowing you the freedom to pull off high-risk stuff throughout, just by trying those parts as many times as needed. Well, I'm making it very clear. To my mind, the only real merit of segmented play is in showing the potential for proper runs. Kind of a technical aid, if you like.

ADDENDUM ON TIMING: Although my exact time hardly matters (being only a segmented run), I'll mention the timing convention I was using. The time starts the moment I'm released from the Pelican (that makes sense, right?), and ends when the fade-to-white perceptibly begins (normal gameplay has ended; so that makes sense too, right?), and then I round up (because rounding down would mean putting an unwarranted shine on your performance, getting something for free). I did check High Speed Halo's rules but there simply wasn't enough clarity there. It seems ambiguous in regard to both the start and the end, and says nothing about rounding. I've now also belatedly checked the Halo Runs rules (that site wasn't really on my radar before), and I see that they start the time only when you hit the ground (a poor decision, bearing in mind that you actually have movement control the instant you're released; it's just that you happen to be in the air, so it's currently in the form of drift ability), and end it on the "last frame of fade-out" (which I'd take to mean the first frame where things appear completely white), but there's no statement about rounding. If they round up, my time would still be 5:47, but if they round down it would be 5:46.