BCM177 - PAL speed run with Banshee grab

(6:19) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Legendary. Here's the first ever AOTCR speed run with a Banshee grab at the first bridge - and undoubtedly it's a PAL world record by a long way. Except, entirely unofficial of course, as the speedrunning world sadly doesn't maintain a PAL table (PAL Xbox is a different playing field to NTSC/PC, and in particular, movement speeds are considerably lower). My time could easily have been another 5 seconds faster too, if I hadn't had a disaster at the twin bridges. The run uses my new and more controlled arch method for grabbing the bridge Banshee early - an improvement over what I was doing in BCM176, though you can still expect to need many tries. The method has only been verified for PAL, incidentally. Perhaps it might need tweaking to work properly on NTSC/PC, due to the different game dynamics; but I can't check into that myself.

NEWSFLASH! Just as I was completing the movie for release, Sligfantry posted a video showing a radical improvement of his rim method, having found an amazing way to board fast. Looks like it's going to give the fastest possible grab, beating my best by maybe 2-3 seconds, taking system differences into account. So perhaps all my work honing the arch method has been in vain!

UPDATE: See BCM191 for my breakthrough on the arch method, which massively boosts the success rate (giving you a possible reason to prefer it to the rim method).

Released April 13th 2016, gameplay recorded April 12th 2016.


00:02 (Getting through the covies) My blitzing of the welcoming party is similar to last time, except I have to briefly dawdle near the end to pick up a plasma pistol. Unfortunately though, I haven't acquired any plasmas - so instead of tagging the Elite in the first room, I resort to finishing him with a few whacks (it was a bit too dangerous to leave him alive). The nearby platform Grunt lends a helping hand by shooting him in the back, heh heh! I use a frag on some Jackals ahead, then push on through with plasma fire. In the exit passage I lose a fraction of a second when a Grunt blocks my way. Should've just jumped over those guys really, but I got a bit zappy with the plasma pistol. Overall I'm almost 6 seconds down on what I did in BCM176.

00:49 (Banshee grab) My new method is based on minimizing random elements as much as possible, to try and get the best possible control over the Banshee. As a bonus though, the Grunt handling is easier and needs little effort. I start by carefully positioning myself using down-aim. That spot is the result of extensive testing, for the best chance of ejection. I'll elaborate in my Banshee grab article later, but for now let's just say, try not to stray from my aiming spot by more than the diameter of the pistol reticle.

I headshoot the only Grunt, then take the time to blast the other Shade clear as it can sometimes get in the way like it did in BCM176 (it's not too important though). The other Grunts panic for a while and don't bother me; but sometimes they do, which is why I was keeping an eye on my tracker, and would've killed any who turned up.

My main focus is on the Banshee though. I time a crouch to make it veer off at the right moment, and it circles around to the arch. There are a couple of ways to judge when to crouch. In this play I was actually using the rhythm of the Banshee's plasma fire, but what I recommend in light of subsequent testing, is to crouch when the tip of the Banshee's right leg reaches the vertical shadow-line seen on the distant cliff. Done well, you can expect to get the Banshee to the arch about 80% of the time.

After seeing that the Banshee has had trouble at the arch, I quickly move in towards the doorway and fire a few shots. The way the pilot usually gets ejected is by the Banshee banking steeply down and right, and I think your presence below can encourage that. On this occasion the pilot falls out and I board before he's even hit the deck, which was rather pleasing. Incidentally, with this new method the Banshee hardly ever gets stuck - unlike in my previous experience, where sticking seemed to be the norm. If you get an ejection at all, it's likely to be within a second or two, as seen here.

02:21 (Cavern exit door) In the cavern I don't risk doing a fast switch like I did in BCM176. Way too much danger of being killed. I don't want my hard-won grab to be wasted for the sake of saving a second or so.

03:40 (Twin bridges disaster) At the twin bridges I mess up. The Banshee's left leg hits the pillar and the Banshee ends up blocking the doorway. Exactly what I didn't want to happen - aside from being killed obviously. When I fail to get past, I quickly weigh up whether to shift it or try again. The gap looks just small enough so I risk another jump; and with the aid of a crouch I squeeze through. Phew! Lost about 5 seconds, but it could've been worse.

04:35 (Platform hop skipped) I bail on the platform hop, because on my first run I fluffed it twice, which was just embarrassing. The detour costs me about 2 seconds, but I preferred that to risking another disaster.

05:18 (Final phase) My work with the switches is relatively poor this time. I'm clumsy at the first switch (Banshee leg getting caught again!), slow with the second, and then I'm a bit slow through the door after the third. However, at least I made it. A committed PAL player should be able to beat my time without too much trouble though - if they can manage a good grab of course!

Closing remarks This may very well be the only unconditional speed run I ever do. I did it because of the Banshee grab business of course, but unconditional runs really aren't my thing. As you may know, I'm more into killing covies, not running past them. This is also why I didn't go all out to get the fastest time I could. I was content to just show a good grab (a really good grab as it turned out), and an ok time, by way of demonstration and encouragement to the folk who are really into this stuff. The serious time-setting will be down to them. Talking of which, my timing convention is as stated for BCM176. Starts when I exit the Pelican, ends when the fade-out perceptibly begins, and then the time is rounded up.

According my tally, getting this run took 208 plays - which represents quite a lot of pain at the hands of murderous covies! In 74 plays I didn't even make it as far as the first room. A lot of the time my frag throw was bad or didn't work as planned. In fact I got caught in my own frag blast more times than I care to mention! In 64 tries I made it to the first room but not to the bridge. Those are some nasty aliens in there! Actually, in both of the combat sections there were times when I simply quit without being killed, because either I'd gone down to only one bar of health, which I didn't care to suffer for the rest of the level, or because I'd done something messy or bad combat-wise, which I didn't want to have in a movie.

That leaves 70 times I made it to the bridge, but sometimes there were no Shade guys, so I didn't bother continuing. I wanted at least one Shade guy to demonstrate a typical situation. So that left 60-odd occasions when I tried to grab the Banshee. That was more tries than I'd hoped to need, but I may've just been unlucky. I think the odds of success for Legendary are rather better than 1 in 60, though at present I haven't done sufficient testing to be sure of the situation. I'm pretty sure Heroic is significantly easier, due to more distinct firing from the Banshee. In one test comprising 50 tries, I got 5 ejections! That was on Sunday 10th, which was essentially my breakthough day. Thats when I realized I had a method good enough for practical use on speed runs - which is why I soon got busy trying to do one.