BCM22 - Kill 'em all speed run

(8:53) Level 1 ('The Pillar of Autumn') on Legendary. This shows a kill 'em all speed run in 8:29, restricting myself to plasma weapons only, once at least one can be safely acquired.

Released August 18th 2010, gameplay recorded August 15th 2010.


00:02 Ah, that was a restful nap in the cryo-tube. Now to get a bit of warmth back in the muscles by slaughtering 44 Elites and 85 Grunts! There's a white fade-out for the cutscene, and I leave the controls alone until it's complete and I get the message "Find Captain Keyes on the Bridge". The run time starts now! I'm straight off to the door, getting there ahead of the cryo guy before he blocks my path. Once he's settled near the door, it opens and I'm off. For much of this run I'll have the flashlight on, which is mainly for the movie. My capture equipment isn't great with muted lighting, so I'm trying to add a bit of brightness.

00:18 A hop takes me over the pipes, and pretty soon there are crewmen in sight as I crouch under a door. Have to admit, I've always found crouch movement a bit awkward, but I do okay here. I prefer to take it pretty much straight on, so I'm through as quickly as possible. Soon there are more bozos coming up, and there's a very annoying Marine here who stands in front of the door. You probably know him, right? "Sir, the Captain needs you on the bridge ASAP. That's why I'm blocking your way". You can't run past on the left or right, unless he moves. I don't know what Bungie was thinking doing that, and I find it intensely annoying. It's particularly annoying on a speed run, but the solution is to jump past him - though you have to be careful not to get knocked by one of the crewmen or you'll get diverted (which is another aggravation). In this case I do a good jump and don't get held up at all. For a change, the Marine doesn't deliver his usual line. Further on I pass two red-suited crewmen who can be seen in their standard combat posture - cowering on the ground with hands over head. Nice technique guys! A bit more running brings me finally to Captain Keyes and I quickly skip the cutscene. The pipe smoking fool gives me an empty pistol with which to repel the covie invasion, and I'm away.

01:12 Before leaving the bridge I pause for a checkpoint to ensure that the pistol and three Grunts will materialize as Bungie presumably intended. Three headshots on these guys would be nice, but here I only get the first two. The third Grunt doesn't go down and I decide to give him a little bomp on the head. I deliberately get the pistol reloaded before stepping over the AR, which gets forced into my hands. I would've much rather had a plasma pistol from one of those Grunts, but crazily they don't leave any. Presumably that was intended by Bungie to make sure you get the AR - but it just doesn't make sense.

01:23 Into the mess hall battle! I quickly switch from the AR to the pistol, bringing down the Grunt and one of the Elites, then move in with the AR, picking up two frags on the way. As I near the doorway, I'm looking for the plasma pistol but can't see it at first, so I start drilling the Elite. That's when I see the plasma pistol, just past him. I take the opportunity to pick up a plasma rifle while he's reeling from AR fire, and I get the plasma pistol as he misses a swipe and gets finished off by the Marines. My tactic now is to start charging down the left - and it's useful that I'm already well advanced as the final Elite dies, which is why I delayed my attack on him. But it can also be very useful to lob a grenade over to the vicinity of the other door. Often this can decimate any Elites coming through, or standing around after coming through. Normally I'd use a plasma, but frags are all I've got. The blast takes out a Grunt, and I take down one from the left door with the plasma pistol. A plasma ball stuns an Elite at the other door, and with two Elites close together I realize it's a good opportunity for using the second frag. The bang takes out the shieldless Elite and sends the other skimming along the ground. Meanwhile I've moved on to another Elite with the plasma rifle. He's quickly down, then I finish off the other. That just leaves a lone Grunt outside. Unfortunately he's behind a shield which holds me up a few seconds. Actually you can potentially shoot him though the gap, but in this case he moved and I decided to just go around. I get a bit of medkit treatment, and that's the first skirmish over in fairly good time.

02:15 A lone red in the corridor gets a whack on the head, and here's the first airlock coming up. Sergeant Johnson and another guy go flying, and now I put my tactics into action. One plasma in the doorway, then another thrown inside, ideally tagging an Elite - and then get well clear! This time it goes perfectly. I used to only use a doorway plasma, then I'd probably do some shooting and throw another, because the first blast would usually still leave troops alive. But this double-throw tactic can get things done considerably faster. I check to make sure everyone's dead, then I move on. I don't bother with an overshield, because I don't think it would have enough benefit to repay the several seconds it would cost me to acquire it. It can be worth dawdling to pick up a few plasma grenades however. For the next big skirmish you'll want to be fully stocked. In this case I don't dawdle as I've still got two and there's a decent chance of being able to pick up more around the corner.

02:36 I head into the dark passage with a plasma pistol, having made sure not to show myself too early. Often the Elite is looking away and you can just bash him on the head. This time he was initially looking sideways and I had a concern that he might spot me, so I quickly opened fire with the plasma pistol - which is devastating when rapidly pulsed. It takes him down - the Grunt too - and I get nicely topped up with plasmas.

02:46 Marines come into view, and it sounds like they're having a spot of bother. I tackle the enemy from the side passage. Usually I tag an Elite right away, but this time my target moves. I send in a second grenade for good measure - well away from the first - hoping the combined blasts will clear a good few enemies. The second one actually takes out an Elite, and I head in, tagging a reinforcement Elite from the right. As I back off, another comes for me and I tag him too, though that wasn't a great decision. He gets blasted my way which could've been trouble. I should've just piled plasma into him. But I'm ok and I charge back in and take down the final Elite with the plasma rifle. A couple of Grunts get the plasma treatment too, including one who was trying to run away down my entrance passage - something you need to be aware of else you can lose time having to go after them. More plasma fire quickly mops up the remaining grunty threat, and the job is done. In the heat of the moment I lose myself a few seconds looking for a replacement plasma pistol, which was pointless as I already had a good one. Plasma pistols are extremely economical with their normal mode of fire, so you really don't need to bother changing very often unless you use a lot of plasma balls. Watching this movie makes me realize that I was pausing for weapon replacements more often than I needed to, which probably added a few extra seconds to my time.

03:27 More Marines in trouble now, and again I attack from the side. My tactic here is to try and tag an Elite by surprise. But you have to be sure to throw it high enough, else it can end up hitting the backpack of one of the nearby Grunts. I get the red, and the blast takes out both Elites and a Grunt. The other Grunts are easy prey and I'm quickly through. You can usually get topped up with plasma grenades here, which is a good job because they're important for getting through the next encounter fast.

03:40 Second airlock area now, and the opposition here can be fearsome, with four blue Elites and a horde of very aggressive Grunts. I immediately send in two plasma grenades and use a support for cover. I catch a lucky break; the blasts take out all four Elites, allowing me to charge in to mop up fast. A Grunt takes me by surprise from behind though. See what I mean about these guys? He's just seen all four leaders killed yet he's still firing like a devil. The three remaining Grunts quickly recover from their panic too. I miss with a plasma ball but quickly work my way through them. I hear the last one shouting "Tossin' one" so I know it's ok for me move out and take him down. With health intact I press on - again foregoing the luxury of an overshield.

04:04 Crouching under the half-closed door, there are a couple of crewmen in dire trouble ahead. On a good day you can actually save them, but I'm not even concerned about that here. I head straight up and attempt to tag an Elite as I pass the left doorway. This is easily the best tactic for clearing the area fast, though you may like to first throw a grenade through a gap as you approach, to land it right in front of the doorway to try and stop any enemies emerging. This time I miss the tag - drat! - so as a backup I throw a second grenade on the ground. As it turns out though, the first one still takes out both Elites. Plasma fire takes down the Grunts, and with the last of those gone, the remaining blue Elite charges out from the passage. I'm ready for him with a plasma ball, then I finish him off. Don't even need the medkit!

04:28 Now the stairway battle, for which I definitely want a full stock of plasma grenades. I head straight up the stairs. I don't often bother trying to fire on the way up, but this time I see a few Elites looking relatively stationary so I take the opportunity to send up a plasma ball. I could've followed with a plasma grenade and maybe got a tag, but that would've been a bit speculative from this range and I prefer to keep the grenades for when I'm up there. Plus I wouldn't want a blast to send a live enemy off the platform, else I might have to spend time going after him later. I just send in a bit more plasma and continue up the stairs. In seconds I'm working my way through the two Elites and two Grunts with plasma fire. I end up taking a damaging whack from the final blue, but that was mainly because I was rather concerned about getting clear of the plasma grenade fumbled by the second Grunt. The next part of the plan is to tag an Elite as the doors open, to decimate that whole lot of reinforcements. I get the tag and it does the job pretty nicely, leaving only a panicking Grunt to finish off - and he kindly deposits a few plasmas for me. But meanwhile I've also sent a grenade down to the reinforcements below, a tactic which can save you valuable seconds in having to go down to sort them out. This time it looks like the blue runs onto my grenade. Nice! I hear the two death cries, so I know the job is done. I was through this battle nice and fast, but lost a lot of health, which is going to make the next few encounters even more dangerous than usual. At least I'm topped up with plasmas though. Gonna need 'em!

05:02 In the next section the main opposition is a pair of Elites. Ideally you want to sneak up and tag at least one by surprise, but this time that plan is ruined by a typically idiotic Marine who's let himself get spotted. I send in a few plasmas anyway - using the shield for cover - and manage to tag the blue. Happily the blast take out the red too, which is quite a relief as I could've otherwise been held up a good few seconds, especially with my poor health. I move on into the dark area, restocking with plasmas on the way, and take out the grunty opposition. These guys are very aggressive, so don't underestimate them. I'm now left with two Elites and a Grunt. Their numbers may be few but they can put up a terrible fight. I think the best tactic is to try and land a grenade up near the shield. If you can remain undetected, the Elites might stand around like idiots and let themselves get blasted. This time I'm detected - I moved out way too far - but it's not all bad news. The blue runs into the path of my plasma, so that's one down. I catch the red with a plasma ball and decide that's good enough to risk charging in. You'll note that I take time to bring down the Grunt as I go. He can be quite a devil, so it's worth it. I almost blow things with the red however. Most of my plasma misses as I approach, and I go down to one health bar. One more shot from him and I'm a gonner; but I whack him twice while circling, saving myself just in time - though I was half expecting a stray Marine bullet to finish me off. Close call, and I need that medkit bad!

05:52 Three Grunts come into sight and I open up with plasma fire as I approach. They're no threat, and quickly killed. I want the access way to open but the game plays a mean trick on me. Cortana starts giving a warning about blast doors closing, something she normally would've done earlier. I'm not sure why that line was delayed but it holds things up, costing me five or six seconds. Grrr…

06:30 Ok, now the most dangerous part of the run as I exit the access way. My tactics here are completely different from what I described in my talk-through of the level with One One Seven. I'm far more direct. The plan is basically to go left out of the nearest exit, tag at least one Elite, then get to cover by the drinks machine. It's rather high-risk, but extremely fast when it goes well. Once I realized it was viable, it shaved over thirty seconds off my time! In this play I get the tag as desired. He takes a swipe which I'm expecting (and wanting because it stops him firing at me), but I'm already moving past. The red swipes too, and I throw a second plasma. Sometimes I might try and tag him, but this time I put it on the ground. I move to my position of cover by the drinks machine but there's no time for refreshment. The red retreats up the corridor (the enemy has been triggered into a general retreat in fact), and I send a plasma grenade after him. Judging from the delayed cry of "Aiieeee!", he gets tagged by it - hee hee! Meanwhile the first two grenades have been causing havoc. I finish off a Grunt, then overheat a plasma rifle bringing down a blue Elite in the doorway. That leaves only one more blue, who's no trouble. I start to move down the passage but quickly realize I've forgotten to use the medkit, so I pop back for it. Aside from that, things went fine. Mind you, it's certainly possible to do better. On another run I tagged the red sooner, and things were about seven seconds faster than seen here.

Incidentally, a less risky variation is to tag an Elite then dodge into the cover position via the near entrance, rather than the far one I circled around to. That can be just as effective and it's more forgiving of error (i.e. if you miss the tag) because you're under cover quicker. But I do like making those Elites swipe and miss!

07:09 I raise my aim as I near the Elite in a somewhat wrecked part of the ship (do you hear the Grunt standing too close to the flames? "Ahh!… ooh!… yah!… eek!…"), and send in a plasma to tag him. Very enjoyable. Then I move into the darkness and wipe out the Grunts. Within the access way, two more dozy critters get the plasma treatment.

07:34 Nearing the end now. Just past the access way exit are two Elites; a red and a blue. My tactic here is to tag the red and let nature take its course. But I miss the tag! I'm not quite sure what happened, but I suspect I got slightly nudged by the access way strut. Arrgh! Suddenly I'm taking plasma fire from both Elites so I back off fast, returning fire and managing to get another grenade off. The first grenade takes out the foolish blue, and I move forward again. A Grunt gets a plasma ball, but not before he's lobbed a grenade which wipes out the Marines - not that that's any great loss. In fact he's probably doing me a favour because those bozos can be a bit too gung-ho with their frags here. I don't want one of those things settling near my boots. Edging out of the exit, I throw a grenade on the floor and it takes out the red. All clear - but the missed tag has lost me several seconds.

07:53 I send a grenade up to the Grunts near the corner and it does some good work, but I don't wait around to watch. I'm already heading around the side passage in search of additional grunty troopers. I soon bump into one, and he's only got time to shout "Enemy!" before getting mercilessly cut down with plasma. I take down a retreating Grunt at the far end, and now there's a pretty nasty bit coming up. Supported by Grunts, there are three Elites down the far end, including two reds. I get busy with grenades and plasma fire. I take damage when the stationary shield goes down from the intensity of enemy fire, and I have to hastily back off. But I hear one Elite screaming "Aiieeee!", so he must've been tagged. Assorted death cries follow, and I advance. I'm relieved to see that the only Elite left is the blue. He's in a bad way, and quickly taken down.

08:26 Final airlock in sight! I carefully line myself up to tag one of the two red Elites before I'm noticed. Success! I send in another plasma then start throwing frags, including some to try and kill the four Grunts at the far end, to save me going up there. My first frag is badly timed and gets caught in a plasma blast, but I think the second takes out all four Grunts. I hear the second red growling. Can't see him, but I aim at where I heard the sound and the plasma rifle finishes him off. Heading for the lifeboat, the cutscene gets triggered (that's the end of the run), so I know that those four Grunts are indeed all dead. Run complete in 8:29, woo-hoo!

Closing remarks It was quite rewarding doing repeated plays for this speed run. Initially I was pretty much using the tactics described in my talk-through of the level with One One Seven. I did a pleasing run with a time of 9:55 which I thought would do fine for my movie, but then I realized I could speed things up considerably with some tactical refinements, so I put more work into it.

Three of the nastiest sections were speedily dealt with here, helping me get a good time. Firstly the second airlock area, at which I had a bit of good fortune with my two plasma grenades, taking out all four Elites. Secondly the stairway battle, where I saved time by taking out the ground floor reinforcements from above, though I did take significant damage along the way. And thirdly the risky exit from from the first access way. Among the negatives, I came within a whisker of death at one point, and there was that fairly easy tag I missed at the exit of the second access way, losing me several seconds.

After doing this run I really wanted to try to get closer to the eight minute mark and maybe even get under it if I could really tighten things up and do well in just about every area. But despite more hours of play, the best I managed was an 8:33. Ah well, maybe I'll try again sometime.

But another thing I want to do is see how things play with a pistol and AR. I'm pretty sure it'll take longer, but perhaps not that much longer, bearing in mind that a lot of the work is done by grenades. But that brings me to another thought: how about getting though without using grenades? I'm sure that would take much longer!

Finally, you'll recall that I limited myself to plasma weapons here, once acquired. That's my favourite combo for the level anyway, but could a pistol help speed some sections up? I'm not sure about that, but it's obviously great for taking down Grunts quick if you can pull off those headshots.