KSR1 - Assault on the Control Room

This shows a kill 'em all speed run of Assault on the Control Room on Legendary in 47:50, on PAL Xbox. Restrictions: No vehicles or sniper rifle. The run time starts exactly 8 seconds into the movie when I exit the Pelican, and ends when my vision starts fading out for the final cutscene.

Released March 4th 2012, gameplay recorded February 21st 2012.


00:08 (Landing zone) I start by throwing a carefully aimed frag through the doorway, with the intention of badly damaging the Elites and - critically - stopping them from emerging. It works well and I soon finish them off with the AR. You'd really be much safer using two frags, but I decided to make do with only one because it leaves me with an extra frag for later and also makes the initial AR drilling more exciting for the movie, as the Elites still need a good bit of attention. You'll also notice that I go for the red first of course. I don't finish him off right away though. I juggle my fire between the two of them, trying to minimize their collective fire. Even with both of them down, you still have to give the Grunts respect as they can get pretty vicious. But they're no trouble this time, and I'm off to a good start.

By the way, the only reason I turned my flashlight on was to help things show up better in the movie, as my production set-up doesn't do the greatest job with dim lighting. During the run, I try to remember to turn it on for the darker areas.

00:33 (Room 1) Having finished off the Grunts while still a good way back along the passage, the Elite hasn't been alerted and I get the chance for a silent kill. When that happens I like to head straight into the inner chamber, even though it's an excellent way to get yourself killed. Things work out nicely this time and I'm able to tag the second Elite before any Grunt raises the alarm. The stun wasn't completely necessary but does guarantee that he'll stay put while the grenade heads his way.

After the minors start panicking, I do the appropriate clean-up work as efficiently as I can, starting by leaving the inner chamber because it can still be pretty dangerous when there are enemies in multiple directions. They can soon gang up on you. My clean-up isn't great, I have to say. When I head back into the chamber to zap a needler Grunt, I fail to put him down decisively and get a bit flustered when I also fluff an intended jump through a window frame. It loses me a few seconds but I still finish pretty fast and without health loss.

01:30 (Bridge 1) As I approach the door to the bridge, my ears already tell me there's a Grunt to the left but not to the right, so I immediately go left without needing to waste time looking. The four Grunts are quickly dispatched, and after the last one I've got a wall to shield me from the incoming Banshee while I drop down to try and surprise the Elite. Today it's a stun and whack affair, though more usually I'd do a stun and tag as it finishes things quicker.

After that it's back up top for the Jackals, and I use cover to avoid Banshee fire. The dozing Grunts are quickly zapped (one falls off the bridge the moment he wakes up, which is quite common), and when I realize the two Jackals are close together I use a frag to finish them quick. At the far end of the bridge I use my usual tactic of lobbing grenades over the wall, but it doesn't work as well as I would've liked and I have to improvise to maintain control. After killing the Elite, I fire a reflex shot at where I thought I heard a Grunt (where there shouldn't have been one), but actually it was only the one behind the wall. Odd.

03:08 (Room 2) I deliberately saved a frag for this room (two would've been nicer), and throw it down the left. To try and save a bit of time I use the pistol on the far platform Grunt while the grenade is doing its work, though frankly it's a bit risky to take your attention off the left. Works ok this time though, and the rest is pretty easy. I get supplies along the way. With the second Hunter I take the opportunity to pass him and shoot him in the back, as that leaves me in a more advanced position than if I'd backed off to shoot him in the chest. On a speed run, every little helps!

One thing that displeases me though: an unnecessary reload after shooting the first Hunter, which potentially could've delayed my shooting of the second Hunter.

04:24 (Room 3) I start this room with the usual Grunt whacking, and as it turns out, I'm able to take out the patrolling Elite the same way, plus another Grunt. I'm pretty careful with the Jackals as they can be really lethal and I've been caught out many times here. I don't mind using a frag or two to stay safe. This time I just use one, and score a few plasma ball hits to forestall damage from other beaky threats. A Grunt sets my shield bleeping, but I'm ok.

05:28 (Snowfield 1) The Shade gunner gets a quick zapping (that's why I had the plasma pistol ready), then I switch to the pistol to try and get enemies near the Marines. Unfortunately a Grunt lobs a plasma before I bring him down. I also take out the other Shade gunner on my way to the Marines. When I arrive, I do some quick work with a frag and pistol fire (which I think is worth it) before heading for the rocket launcher. I blast the Ghost, but unfortunately the Marines haven't fared too well. All dead.

When it comes to the Wraith, I end up a bit too near a blast in my keenness to make every rocket count, but I get away without health damage. Further on I do lose health when I'm a little too slow to prepare for the arriving Elite - I was distracted by the minors. I'm lucky it wasn't a red or I could've been hurt much worse.

07:10 (Pelican area) Ok, straight into the fray with a couple of rockets, the first of which is to try and eliminate the threat of plasma grenades. Things go well and the mob is quickly wiped out, so I press forward. However, it was a mistake not to've reloaded the launcher right away, as I could really have done with a rocket to sort out the Elite and Jackal near that rock, and could've taken out the arriving Ghost. As things are, I get somewhat caught short, but I get away with it, and at least the second Ghost is greeted with a rocket.

After clearing the other enemies, I backtrack for a fresh launcher and other supplies. I get a nice tag on the Elite down the slope. One of the Grunts was already killed when he came up out of that area earlier, so there's only the one to finish off.

09:09 (Snowfield 2) My plan with the launcher is to try and conserve rockets so I won't need to get more at the cavern, as those supplies would cost a fair bit of time to get. With that in mind, I take the first Ghost out with a tag instead. It's pretty safe, though there's always the risk that the Ghost will land upright and a Marine will board, which is never a good thing. I'm careful not to get too close to the Jackals as they can be lethal. Happily I manage to quickly bring two down with pistol fire as I head for the Shade plateau. I get the third after rocketing the second Ghost.

Up on the plateau, I do some of my worst rocketing ever. I miss with both tubes as the Wraith drifts one way then the other, and it's really my fault for aiming for the turret area, which is relatively weak. At this distance I should've played safe and aimed lower where the target is wider. My next two rockets hit when I indeed aim lower, but then I miss again and get annoyed. As I fire yet again, I notice the Wraith starting to drift left so I do a late adjustment, but my thumb twitch has way too much anger in it and the shot flies hopelessly wide. Embarrassing. Eventually I blow the darned thing up, but by then my rocket conservation plan is in tatters.

At least the rest of the area goes reasonably well, though it's a pity I missed the Banshee tag. Part way down the slope to the door, I turn to check whether Johnson is following - he's sometimes too slow and gets left behind - but I shouldn't have bothered. There's time to look back after using the door control, which you obviously want to do as soon as possible. Anyway, he's following which is good. Keeping Johnson alive for the cavern can be a major help when you're tackling things on foot.

11:46 (Cavern) Normally I'd bash both Elites while cloaked, but here I'm a bit late on the scene and realize I'll need to do something else for the second one. No worries: I just get close enough to make him swipe, then back off as I tag him - though I don't quite back off quick enough to avoid the swipe. Next I get to work on the minor enemies, including the eight Shade Grunts. The Jackals on the bridge are dangerous so I like to get them out of the picture pretty early. Johnson arrives and starts helping out with his sniper rifle.

With my rocket conservation plan wrecked, I decide to throw caution to the wind and push ahead over the bridge while the Elites are still alive, rather than spending time wearing them down from this near side. It's dangerous, but Johnson does some of his best work ever, killing one Elite and weakening the other so I can finish off with a headshot. After killing the last Hunter, I briefly take a look at an earlier Shade to check that it's unmanned, and thus confirm that I did kill the final Grunt in that sector (he'd been in the gloom, but I was already pretty sure he'd gone down).

14:00 (Rising tunnel and exit) Approaching the next spot of trouble, I peek over the ramp and see one of the Elites heading my way, so I tag him. Gets him on the head, heh heh. The other runs for a Ghost but I'm expecting it and rocket him. Would've done a tag if I'd had a bit more time, but he was already nearly at the Ghost so I played safe, even though it leaves me with only one rocket for tackling the later two Ghosts.

Heading up the rise I'm a bit slow taking out the earliest Jackals, and from experience I know how aggressive they can be, so I play safe and use up a couple of frags. The other Jackals are less trouble. My final rocket takes out one of the Ghosts and I manage to tag the other. I stay clear of most of the Jackal fire and advance safely to mop up, though I make a small mistake later, getting caught by a plasma ball on account of failing to see the Jackal behind the Grunt.

16:00 (Snowfield 3, with tower) With no rockets left, I elect to head for the supplies, throwing a couple of carefully aimed grenades towards the door to hopefully take out most of the threat there. Unfortunately my plasma arrive slightly before the door opens, so only my frag counts. The Elite gets loose but I retrieve the situation with the aid of a fresh launcher. Rockets also take out the Ghost and Wraith.

In the tower I start by blitzing the enemies in the back passage, though it doesn't go completely to plan. My plasma grenade was meant to tag the Elite, but a Grunt leaps up in surprise and intercepts it on his head. However, I get the job done and turn to quickly bring down the cloaked Elites. When it comes to the Elites up the ramp, I make a poor choice by sending in a rocket when a tag would've been better. I lose health as a result. After getting cloaked I tag the one who retreated, and also a Ghost outside. The Shade gunner gets a bullet through the head, nice and quick.

18:18 (Pass and spiral path area) Heading for the pass into the spiral path area, I'm ready to get the first Hunter in the back. I could've got the second too, but decide to play safe by tackling the Elites first. No trouble. Pistol work and a few frags take out the nearby Grunts and Jackals, and I set to work on the more distant group. The Grunts are dawdling near the top of the spiral path and get slaughtered with my pistol. The advancing Elite gets a nice rocket and headshot.

After taking out one of the Shade gunners I trigger the dropship quick by taking a shortcut off the cliff, safely cushioning my fall on a bit of sloping ground. There's time to rocket a Hunter before turning my attention to the dropship troops. They're blitzed quite nicely and a Jackal amusingly dives off the cliff to avoid a grenade. Another shortcut gets me to the underpass entrance where I kill the last Hunter, get cloaked, and get fresh supplies.

20:14 (Underpass area) In the underpass I make a nice mess of the various enemies, though I've forgotten to switch off my flashlight so my cloaking is being wasted. That doesn't matter much against these first enemies, but when I bring Elites galloping down the zigzag path, I take unnecessary damage. I only lose one health bar though, so I don't bother to go to the medkit.

21:04 (Snowfield 4, below twin bridges) My frag on the Grunts is poorly aimed. A central blast can take out the whole lot, but for some reason I throw to the right. However, there's no trouble. When I advance far enough to trigger Ghost pilots, I fire a rocket which neatly destroys one Ghost before it moves away. The other is rocketed too, and the Banshee is soon down from pistol fire. In the trough I use a few plasmas to make trouble for the passage Elites. One is killed by the blast but the other needs a spot of gunfire. As for the Elites at the door, I take fairly firm action with an early rocket and finish off with a headshot - though only after doing an unnecessary reload which could've cost me some health due to the delay.

22:48 (Room 4) After my first Grunt whack, I swap the pistol for a plasma pistol as it's better for whacking and also great for any close-quarter combat I might get into. As it turns out, I get into a lot more combat than planned! After clumsily missing a swipe against a Grunt, my second gets him but he must've been in the process of waking, because his weapon goes off - so now everyone knows I'm there. That's a bit of a worry, but fortunately I manage to take out the Elites quick without losing health, and after that it's case of mopping up - though with a good deal of caution due to past experience. There are a few grenade anomalies along the way, and when I throw a frag at 23:21, a Grunt survives despite being very close to the blast. He must be getting some freakish protection in that little recess. Or else he's some kind of super-Grunt.

24:48 (Room 5) At the top of the lift I give the first Jackal a nice surprise and blitz the rest, but then make a serious mistake. I'd planned to get a pistol for use on the bridge, but somehow I forget about it - and likewise the medkit! Sheesh. Too focused on dealing with the minor enemies I think (and a plasma pistol does sit very comfortably in my hand).

When I lob a plasma through a gap to get a Jackal, I spot the gold Elite through the window and rocket him. It's a bit of a mess though, and I only finish him off later. I'm fairly gung-ho about the remaining enemies but a couple of rockets do most of the job, including taking out a red Elite who spawned around the edge - a major danger. There's also the guy from the raised housing to deal with; he jumped down when I went through the inner chamber. But from the red dot on my tracker I'm ready with a plasma ball and he's quickly taken care of - and he kindly provides me with some handy plasmas.

26:38 (Bridge 2) After bashing the Grunts and getting rid of the Jackals, I start taking out the Grunts while dodging around to help the Elites needle each other to death, but I foul up and take a bunch of needles. Luckily I survive, but I'm down to only one health bar. Disaster! I think it was sometime around here that I finally remembered I was supposed to have a pistol. I'm rather more careful as I continue to work my way up the bridge, but the lack of a pistol makes it slower to deal with the minor enemies. All in all, I'd say I lost some serious time here. But at least I deal with the cloaked Elites nice and quick.

29:46 (Room 6 and passage) Four patrolling Elites in this room. I take a peek and see a red coming this way. For a moment I back off, thinking to wait until I can strike with stealth, but then I decide it's going to take too long, so I advance instead. A tag takes him out, and then a blue, but then I duck into the inner chamber to reach the medkit. Ah, that's better. I find the two remaining Elites standing together, which isn't good, but manage to take them out without losing health. After re-equipping with a launcher and pistol, I deal with the passage enemies reasonably fast, getting some of the Jackals with plasma grenades.

31:28 (Room 7) This room can be a killer, and I don't start well. I've run out of plasma grenades so I can't tag the patrolling Elite. I elect to fire a rocket instead, but it was a dangerous choice with that other Elite nearby. I'm obliged to back off to cover while quickly sending in another rocket. At least I've got both Elites sheltering now; and when I head back in, I manage to finish them off without losing health. The minor enemies aren't too much trouble and soon I'm just left with the inner area to clear. Most of the work gets done with a bit of tagging at the ramps. I don't think it was terribly wise to carry that launcher around though; I could easily have ended up killing myself if I'd fired that thing at close quarters. Normally I would've been holding a plasma pistol instead, ready to stun.

In regard to the plasma grenade I threw at 32:40, that was deliberately to the left of the Grunt I'd just stunned, hoping it would tag him as he ran back up the ramp. But he didn't.

33:35 (Bridge 3) I immediately go left on the bridge to try and get a Hunter with a pistol shot in the back. Success! Next I get busy on the Elites and Grunts, and a grenade throw makes one of the Elites leap off the bridge, hee hee! When I'm able to advance, I spot the other Hunter and take him out with a few rockets while making good use of cover to avoid getting caught by a return blast. Further up the bridge there are some plasmas lying around so I take the opportunity to send a bit of a barrage up to the far end. I fire a rocket too when I see an Elite, and he heads skywards in a chain reaction. Another Elite and two Jackals are dealt with quite nicely - did some good dodging there - and the cloaked Elites get neatly taken out with a rocket. A good stretch of play.

35:47 (Room 8) There are a whole bunch of Jackals and Grunts to take care of here, and although I'm fairly aggressive about it, I also take care to use cover well because I've been caught out here before. At one point I tag a Jackal and he heads back to his buddies to share it around, heh heh.

37:01 (Cloaked Elite passage) My final rocket takes out two of the cloaked Elites; a fine start. When a sword Elite starts heading my way, I back off while wearing him down with plasma fire. No need to panic. The final Elite gets damaged in a grenade blast and I finish him off with the plasma pistol before getting cloaked.

37:43 (Room 9 and passage) My plan for the Hunter room is to get a pistol and shoot them both quick, but I do a clumsy job of it, exposing myself to a blast as I head for the second one. It's a mistake which could've killed me if his second blast had come closer, but I get away with it and heal myself with the medkit. At the passage I clear the Jackals and Grunts with plasma grenades and pistol fire, taking care to preserve my health.

38:46 (Bridge 4) At the start of the bridge I tag both the Elite and a Jackal, which is nice, but a Banshee comes at me sooner than expected and I briefly take shelter in the passage. I'm soon back out though. One Banshee is taken out quick with a rocket, while the other goes down from pistol fire.

Next I want to deal with the Wraith and a Ghost pilot, rather than leaving them until I'm down on the snow, but I've only got three rockets left. Two go towards destroying the Wraith, though I have to be fairly patient with my aiming. A plasma grenade and pistol fire finishes the job. When I finally see the Elite heading for a Ghost, I send down a rocket which blows it up the moment he's aboard.

Further up the bridge, I'm held up for a while by a small group of enemies, and especially an Elite who backs off to cover. When I tentatively advance, I find that he's actually left the bridge. Looking at my motion tracker on the movie footage, it seems that he leapt off to avoid the grenade I threw at 40:36 (see the fast-moving red dot).

It would be nice to have a few rockets left for the enemies clustered in the passage, but a few grenades are almost as good. With all the Grunts killed, it's an easy job to get the Hunters with pistol shots. I don't try and dodge around any swipes here; I've been knocked off the bridge doing that before, so I prefer to play safe and just back off briefly to get them in the chest.

41:23 (Room 10) Another room full of Grunts and Jackals. I think I'm a bit slow getting through here, and at one point when my pistol is almost empty, a Jackal I failed to finish off (and then forgot about) almost catches me out. But I'm through ok.

42:57 (Room 11) You can often get these cloaked Elites with stealthy melee. Here I get the first, but the second spots me. He's conveniently close for my plasma pistol though, and pretty soon I'm taking care of the Grunts and Jackals and getting supplies; principally a pistol and rockets. I deliberately kept the rocket launcher with me even though it was empty, because I can get a few rockets here and that'll save me a time-consuming trip down into the supply hole outside.

44:06 (Snowfield 5 and pyramid structure) I get the patrolling Ghost pilot with a tag after tempting him into whacking me, and the Grunts and Hunters are easily taken care of. Up on the level of the first Shade, there's a red Elite to deal with, and a rocket comes in handy. As for the minor enemies, I'm careful about the Jackals as I really don't want my shield ripped to pieces when I'm almost at the end.

When I get to the wide open area up top, I spot a Grunt running for a Shade and get him with a headshot. I make a bit of a mess of getting the first Hunter and I'm fortunate not to get blasted by the one higher up - which has happened to me before. You certainly have to be careful here; it can be kind of awkward. But soon the outside is clear.

46:48 (Control room passage) After opening the door, I back off to the ramp to avoid being cut down by a grunty barrage. With two rockets I take out much of the threat and make the gold Elite mad. Pistol work finishes him off, and I send my last rocket into a bunch of Grunts. In retrospect I might've done better sending it towards the Elites, but the Grunts caught my eye first. I manage to kill one of the retreating Elites, which panics the last two Grunts, and the final Elite turns out to be a bit of a pushover when I charge forth.

Closing remarks There's some history behind this run. Back in November 2010 I recorded a speed run with the same restrictions, and at the time I thought it was pretty good. At 59:34 it was about 4 minutes faster than my previous best and took me under the 1 hour mark. Woo-hoo! That footage was sitting on my hard-drive for a long time, waiting for me to maybe get around to releasing it. But when I finally looked at it again, prompted by a few folk who wanted to see it, I felt sure I could do better. Took a while before I got around to trying, but the result shown here is almost 12 minutes faster! So I'm thinking "What the heck was I doing back then?" Looking at the old footage again, it's almost painful to see how slow I was going in some places (even though there was at least one Grunt who wet himself - always a good sign). I'd say the improvement is mostly due to increased aggression and more efficient tactics. Also, this time it especially helped that I kept Johnson alive to do some useful work in the cavern. In my old run he was dead within seconds of my arrival in the Pelican area. I did a lousy job there.

Despite the improvement, there were quite a lot of mistakes in this run - such as my horrible rocketing at the second Wraith (which I really didn't want to make public) and the fact that I forgot to pick up a pistol and use a medkit after going up in the lift. I tried hard to get a better run, but despite quite a few hours of effort I couldn't beat the time, and eventually my thumbs had had enough. I do hope to return to this later and beat it, but in the meanwhile it can serve as a decent starting point to improve on. And perhaps the mistakes will even encourage a few other folk to take a crack at beating it before I do!

If you're wondering why I decided to forbid myself the sniper rifle, that was mostly because I wanted more visceral close-range play for a first movie, but also because I would otherwise have had to do quite a bit of work deciding the best strategy for sniper rifle usage. Without the rifle, strategy seemed more clear-cut. As for why I did things on foot, that's how I routinely play the level. It's so long since I tackled the level using vehicles that it would feel like a complete novelty to me now. But maybe someday I'll do some practice and release a run with vehicles. It would be interesting to see how times compare.