KSR2 - The Silent Cartographer
This shows a kill 'em all speed run of The Silent Cartographer on Legendary in 22:14, on PAL Xbox. Restrictions: No vehicles. The run time starts exactly 17 seconds into the movie when I exit the Pelican, and ends when I reboard.
Released October 27th 2012, gameplay recorded October 24th 2012.
00:17 (Landing zone) I switch to the pistol and head for the Grunts on the left. Headshots kill them quick, giving me time to swivel and see what I can do about the other Grunts. Three go down but the fourth disappears behind a rock and I don't want to delay, so I turn back to focus on what's next. Namely, swapping the AR for a needler. Needles pile into the first Elite as I move across to the right hoping to find more pink ammo. There's none handy today, but the good news is that the second Elite is making a decent target, so I send in more needles quick and he's toast. The remaining Grunts are no trouble, though one initially escapes my notice and I have to switch back to the pistol.
Now for the Elites and Jackals beyond, and again I make good use of the needler. I send in a stream focused on the nearest Elite, throw a plasma towards the Jackals (though I think it was a bit long) then skirt around the structure to attack from the side or rear, a nice tactic which gives my shield time to recharge and saves me the danger of heading into a rather hot fire-zone. I want to retain good health for the dangerous fight at the main facility. That Elite gets taken out by my first stream by the sound of it, and she second soon follows when I curve around behind. Things are off to an agreeably speedy start. And incidentally, all six Marines survived.
01:37 (Jackal rocks) In my earlier runs I was dealing with these Jackals using pistol fire, initially killing the ones on the ground, then coming back around to get the ones on the rocks. That's relatively safe, but then I started experimenting with other methods to save me coming back around, hoping to save a few seconds. In this case my plasma grenade was meant to land on the high rock and blast the threesome there, but it's a difficult throw and I hadn't had much practice with it. It sails clean over but serves to distract them while I bash a Jackal from behind. My frag then takes them by surprise. One manages to survive but I drop down to finish him off, and likewise the rest.
I used the flashlight in this area as it's a bit dark and the movie footage should look better with the light on. Throughout the run I try to have the flashlight on in dark areas, with movie clarity in mind.
02:09 (Rise to main facility) Pistol fire kills three of the Grunts ahead, then I switch to the needler and let the two Elites charge my way. The plan is to let them run into lots of lovely needles, taking them out fast. Unfortunately I don't quite keep clear enough of their plasma fire - it was hard to spot them against the dark background - and I lose a health bar in the process, but that's not too bad. You may spot that one of the Elites gets blasted off in a chain reaction - hee hee! The final Grunts are easy pickings and I come out of things armed with a plasma combo and four plasma grenades, just what I want for a blitz at the main facility.
02:59 (Main facility entrance) Here's perhaps the toughest part of the level coming up, with a mass of Elites to deal with (you get six or seven, and in my case it was six). I throw three plasmas, one aimed at the distant pair, another aimed at a closer Elite, and another into the entrance way through which further Elites patrol. You can often cause mass devastation this way. My grenades kill three Elites but one of the distant ones survives. I take cover when I see him coming, and when he shows his face I do a stun and tag. The blast sends another Elite into rage mode and I finish him with a plasma rifle, though it sets my shield bleeping again (I got a bit distracted with the Grunts). After taking rather too long to work through the Grunts, I end up charging at the final Elite. When he dodges my plasma ball I see him taking a side-step back to the centre giving me an easy tag, after which he amusingly misses a swipe. Incidentally, the first grenade I threw down the passageway was a bad throw; it was meant to go down to the end but I completely fluffed it.
04:11 (Main facility door) My first plasma grenade is meant to tag the Elite standing at the back. It misses, but it's close and still does the necessary damage. Meanwhile the other grenade goes in front of the Grunts so they're sandwiched between the explosions. I add a bit of plasma fire for good measure, and it's all over fast.
04:49 (Back outside main facility) There are still three Jackals to deal with outside the main facility. Sometimes they actually get attracted up by the fighting, and on a couple of runs I got fatally taken by surprise that way, but today they apparently haven't heard the commotion. Despite only being three Jackals, these guys can mess up your health in a flash so I'm careful not to be complacent. I blitz the first two, then stun the third for easy finishing before he gets too shooty. I don't always bother with the overshield here, and on a good day (depending on Jackal arrangement) you can save several seconds by skipping it. However, this time I'm already close when dealing with the final Jackal, so I use it.
05:30 (Path entrance) I was careful to retain at least one frag for this bit, so I could use it to decimate the circle of Jackals, though two separated plasma grenades can do the job nicely as well. I pause to watch the bang for the sake of the movie. I mean, you want to see those Jackals go flying, right? One Jackal survives after recoiling in surprise, but I finish him with plasma fire. To save time, I'm not heading for the supplies at the hog. I go straight for the entrance, planning to battle up the path with plasma weapons. The Elite gets a plasma ball which makes him take cover behind the big tree, and I finish him at close range.
06:21 (Path) The Grunts up the path got alerted by my fire but I'm not worried about that as it doesn't make much difference. I work my way up with plasma fire, using the two big rocks for cover and also throwing plasma grenades to help clear the way. With the first Elite I often tag him after stunning him, but this time I just finish him with rapid fire. The second Elite gets taken out when a tagged Grunt runs back his way. Nice work grunty! The earlier Grunt tag was just luck incidentally; I didn't aim for him.
07:04 (Interior circle) I lost a lot of health on the path and I want a pistol too, so I visit the supplies. As the fighting didn't get very high up the path, the Hunters haven't been alerted and I take the opportunity to shoot one in the back, but the other needs approaching. You'll notice that I don't bother getting an overshield here. I'm really not fussed about the added protection, and actually there can even be a drawback to getting one here. If I were to end up with some overshielding left when about to head into the substation, I wouldn't be able to get a fresh overshield unless I care to subject myself to an explosion. That wouldn't be good.
07:28 (Interior field) Approaching the narrow opening to the next area, I get rid of the dangerous advancing Jackals with assorted fire plus a nicely placed plasma grenade. When I open up on the Grunts and Elite, my plasma ball hits the Elite and I manage to finish him quick with pistol fire, giving me the confidence to advance without further ado (otherwise I would've stayed back and done some pistol fire). Keen to preserve my health however, I make good use of movement and cover as I pick off the Grunts and Jackals.
08:36 (Substation entrance) The Grunts outside the substation shouldn't be underestimated, and I pick off a few with the pistol for openers. I don't make the best job of it - more headshots would've been nice - and when a Grunt throws a grenade I just charge in, switching to plasma fire and melee. Works nicely, and then I get an overshield for my later exit.
09:01 (Substation) The Hunters inside are quickly despatched with a pistol round apiece. After the unskippable cutscene, my tactic for killing the cloaked Elites is to whizz back to the ramp and deal with them from there, but I'm also ready to try and tag one along the way if the opportunity arises. I see a likely target and throw, but it misses and I have to divert to avoid it. Doesn't matter much though, and actually the purple cases serve to block some of the enemy fire. As I near the exit I turn to throw a plasma, but actually that was a poor decision and a bit of my health is lost. From the ramp I use grenades and a bit of fire, and things get cleared up nicely with a big chain reaction. Glad I still had those frags; they were a real help. I take a few seconds to check that nobody's left. It's all quiet so I'm sure they're all dead.
10:31 (Grunt hill) After an easy drop to the beach, I wipe out the Jackals without losing any of the fresh overshield I've got. One gets tagged, another gets headshot, and the closest gets whacked and shot. When I start to move out to get the fourth with plasma fire, I briefly step back when I see him crouched defensively. It causes him to advance, making it easier for me to get at him. The Grunts get some pistol treatment and the remaining four Jackals get attacked from above. When I see three close together, they make an inviting target for a plasma grenade, which actually tags the guy in the middle who lost his shield. At the supplies I get pistol ammo and the rocket launcher.
12:10 (Interior circle again) After using the substation, five Jackals got dropped off at the interior circle and need to be killed. I could've done it before tackling the Grunt hill, but I prefer to leave them for after because I think it's slightly more efficient, albeit only by a few seconds.
In earlier runs I was trying to save time by not bothering to go to the overturned hog for frags, but later I decided that they were probably worth the time, and on occasion they can be life savers; so on this run I get them. A few seconds after that I swap the launcher for a plasma pistol, but quickly realize that's not a convenient place to leave the launcher for subsequent pick-up, so I swap back again. Happily I'm able to swap on the path instead. The plasma weapon is just for helping out on the Jackals. I do a reasonably quick job and deliberately let the last Jackal wipe my overshield so I can get a new one.
14:20 (Outside main facility) The first Hunter outside the main facility doesn't hold me up at all as I get a shot in his back. The second doesn't slow me much either, as I dodge and turn, firing my shot as I continue towards three Jackals. Unfortunately I make a mess of dealing with the final two, losing several seconds due to not taking them down fast and clean. One of them also tried to run off, and it was a good job I got him before he went out of sight or I would've lost even more time going after him.
15:24 (Top room and ramp down) After bashing the first Elite on the head, I tag the next and wipe out the six Grunts with some fairly efficient pistol work. I make sure to replenish my plasma grenade stock before going through the door. I'm expecting to be faced by Jackals there, but unusually they haven't been alerted. For the first time ever, I find them just standing around together on the ramp, quite low down. Very handy! My plasma grenade tags the nearest, and that takes care of that.
16:02 (Hunter chamber) Pistol fire takes care of the Jackals here but I lose most of my overshield. In retrospect I might've done well to use a frag there. Another little hiccup is that when I pick up new ammo at the supplies, I do so before my reload has completed, and end up using two ammo packs, which was very wasteful. Fortunately there's still one left for when I come back up however, so it doesn't matter. With the Hunters, I jump through a side opening to get close to the nearest quick, to forestall any fuel rod shot. The second doesn't fire either, thanks to my briefly dodging out of sight as I approach.
16:44 (Map room area) Although my kill 'em all speed run rules include a 'No tricks' rule, falling isn't counted as such, so it's fine for me to shortcut the descent by falling onto a sloping surface as seen here. Indeed, it kind of looks like Bungie designed that slope for this very purpose! Grunts sometimes raise the alarm but today I'm not spotted, so I'm able to go for an easy tag on an Elite, but I miss it, throwing too low. And then I miss a hasty re-throw for good measure! Things could go bad very quickly here, but the first bang sends the Elite into rage mode and I quickly whack him dead. I've already got the launcher ready in case of emergencies, and I put it to use when the other Elite steps out, then pistol fire finishes him off. Close call, but I retain full health and quickly use the holo-panel, skipping the cutscene.
Three Grunts hit the deck as I head for the short ramp. When I spot the Elite through the doorway, I make an easy tag then nip back down for the overshield. I didn't want to apply that until he was out of the way, because I want the best protection for when I start meeting Jackals. I edge out with pistol fire, finishing the Grunts without taking damage, and top up with plasma grenades.
17:59 (Ascent to Hunter chamber) I manage to take the first two Jackals by surprise, throwing a plasma grenade up onto the ramp and shooting the Jackal lower down. A further grenade fails to kill the two Jackals who then approach the doorway but at least it makes them shieldless, as seen when I stick my head out. I finish one off with pistol fire and use a frag to kill another, then the second shieldless guy gets fragged with a colleague. When new beaky jokers come into view along the distant walkway, I'm ready with the rocket launcher before any plasma balls sail my way. Two rockets do good work, then I move out and shoot the final lower-level Jackal. The ascent is going well so far.
I don't bother to get the cloaking as I don't think it's worth the time. After a spot of reloading under cover, I head up to finish those walkway Jackals. My pistol fire isn't doing the job so I throw my last frag quick, then rocket the Grunts and Elite across the room. I could've sworn the Jackal would be a goner from that frag, but somehow he got clear. When I realize he's still there, I fire a rocket because my shield is already bleeping and I do not want to lose health. But that doesn't work either! He's still there when I go around the corner, but at least he's got his back to me, so his luck finally runs out.
When I get around to where those other covies were, I finish off the Grunts. The reason I then look over the edge is because on the way I heard what sounded like vicious plasma rifle fire, so I was thinking "Huh? Is that Elite still alive, blown down to the lower level?" He wasn't of course; he screamed loudly and I'd heard it. However, the Jackal distracted me enough that I somehow was no longer sure about that - plus I'd been attempting run after run so I was probably getting a bit fatigued by now. In retrospect I think what I heard was actually one of the Grunts firing a plasma pistol. So anyway, I lost a few seconds there for no good reason. And hey, the Elite's body was on the next ramp, easily visible, so why didn't I spot it? Sheesh!
Next there are four Jackals descending from the Hunter chamber. I use the pistol on the first, and throw a plasma to give the second something to think about. In fact it tags him. A third gets pistol fire, and I believe the fourth went down the shaft after diving to be clear of the grenade. Jackals dive off quite readily here; see a clip in my out-takes movie.
19:56 (Hunter chamber again) I've been saving a plasma grenade for my return to the Hunter chamber, so I can use it at the doorway on the left. I tag the nearest Jackal and the bang does good work. A further Jackal is shot, then I get to work on the Grunts and Elite. I use a rocket trying to damage or kill the Elite, but I think he escapes damage. When I run out of pistol ammo I throw a frag to hopefully keep him back while I pick up more and boost my health. Eventually I do rocket him, then grab his grenades.
21:00 (Top room again) I tag the Elite, which is a good way of dealing with him. The bang also kills one of the Grunts, then I kill off the other three quick with pistol fire, picking up more grenades. I'm not keen on going through the door and having Jackals up to my left, so I go around to attack from a safer position. In fact I surprise them and tag one. The reason I subsequently go up the ramp is to check that the other one up top was killed. I'd been shooting at the low Jackal when the bang went off, and I wasn't completely sure. Thought maybe I'd heard one still alive. But no, they're all dead.
21:37 (Guarded doorway) My tactic for the gold Elite is to tag him and jump over. There's a risk of course, and here I'm briefly fearful that I'm about to die. As I make the jump, I catch the corner and it diverts me somewhat to his left, leaving me rather close to him. But happily he's too busy growling to swing his sword, and he's also slow to come after me, so I get away with it. To see how it ideally should go, see the end of the out-takes movie.
21:54 (Exit) The cloaked Elites can hold you up quite badly, but grenades and rockets can sure speed things along. For once I've got a few rockets left, and even a few frags, and they're put to good use. I clear things quickly enough that the Pelican is only just coming down into position when I emerge, something I hadn't experienced before. I jump up to board it early, because the run time ends as soon as you board. The cutscene only starts when the Pelican has finished its scripted settling.
Closing remarks I almost drove myself nuts getting a run I was happy with (kept fouling up when trying to break an earlier best time), so I hope you enjoyed it. Go comment on YouTube if you want to encourage me for more. Watching the footage, I feel like I already want to try it again because there are places I'm sure I could pick up a bit of time. If I could manage a run without any silly mistakes and perhaps add a few tactical refinements, I think maybe I could get things down near 21 minutes, but we'll see. I'll also have to do a Silent Cartographer run involving Warthog use sometime, for which I'd need to rethink tactics considerably.
I later went through the level slowly a few times, carefully counting enemies, curious as to how many there were on Legendary (when you visit the main facility before the substation, as per my rules), and it turned out to be 200 or 201. That's 37 or 38 Elites, 72 Jackals, 83 Grunts and 8 Hunters. A whopping 22 of those pesky Jackals are encountered during the ascent to the surface. The only randomization I saw in enemy numbers was that when you first visit the main facility, you can meet either 6 or 7 Elites before going down to the locking door. In my run here I got 6, judging by the various death cries. So with 200 covies killed in 22:14, that makes very close to 9 covies per minute on average. Just so you know.