For me, the ultimate test in speed running is in the single-segment. Individual levels you can practice over and over, manipulating random outcomes to your advantage to squeeze out more time, you only have to play for so long before you can take a break and you only need to get familiar with a certain set of tricks required for your chosen level(s).
Single segment is a whole other beast. You have to know the entire game: all the tricks, all the options, all the encounters, all the weapons, all the enemies and all the random BS you can encounter. You have to construct a safe route out of all this, and then you have revise that route to account for your stress and tiredness and stuff you’d never thought could possibly happen.
Then you practice the hell out of it and start making attempts!
The inspiration for this comes from Cody Miller’s similar run of Halo 2 – all the way back in 2005. I was amazed by that run when I saw it (have you seen it? Go watch it!). When I started speed running properly in 2007, in Halo 3, it was at the back of my mind, but I honestly never got good enough at Halo 3 to even challenge any of the single-level Legendary records, let alone do a full-game run. By the time Reach released I’d like to think I was much better at Legendary play, and played it on Legendary far more than any other difficulty.
During the spring of 2011, having got single level records on many of the missions, I began to wonder about finally doing a single segment and began practicing. Then when Cody Miller himself laid down the gauntlet, I knew I had to complete it.
The next several months involved lots of iteration of route, practise, attempts, failure and reconsidering whether I should even try it! I took breaks and tackled single-level run improvements as well.
The ‘No Deaths’ part causes a huge amount of anguish: I had practiced enough, and had route read to do a sub 3-hour SS run as early as spring, but I couldn’t do it without deaths. Virtually the entirity of the next several months was practice and route improvements to stamp out areas that caused me deaths.
When I did finally complete it, on the 27th October 2011, I actually began at 7:26am local time, after already staying up too late trying to finish my route, and then being unable to get to sleep at all. So any mistakes I feel entirely justified putting down to sleep deprivation. :)
Winter Contingency – 11:03
There are some slide jumps down the slopes at the begining that you can do, I messed them up but they only save a few seconds which is nothing compared to time you can lose later on. The Spec-Ops camo Elite here is how you know it’s on Legendary: he only shows up on this difficulty. On the balcony of the first structure you can jump off the end and up some rocks to save some time, but again this is nothing in the scope of things so I don’t bother.
Everyone knows you don’t need to fight out the ‘Overlook’ area: running past on the right is both safe and easy.
I couldn’t get the Falcon skip to work consistently enough for my liking: I kept failing to bring it down or Jun would randomly be there or I wouldn’t get through the barrier. I cut it out and instead drove the Spade around the right of the mountain to get the Trooper location near the river: this location is much easier to fight out since you can get a lot of distance and cover from the drop ships.
Outside the Relay, you need to kill the first wave as quickly as possible (grenades!) and get to Kat to trigger the next waves. Then take out most of the first two waves and you’ll get the dialogue to go inside, so I do, and continue to kill enemies to make sure it’s as quick as possible.
Inside I like to kill the Elite in the first corridor so I don’t have to worry about him later.
Sword Base – 9:09
The Phantom doesn’t fly overhead until you move up, so I use this opportunity to take out an Elite early (who are your biggest threat in this area). After this its all about moving up on the left, grabbing a PP and taking out the Elites, sticking as close to cover as possible.
Door doesn’t open until the TL is picked up, but you want it anyway. The Pilot of the Ghost doesn’t usually turn around here and see you; I was lucky I was close enough to board it.
The method for Air-View is actually one I developed for Mythic: Target Locate the middle to try and take out as many as possible, then finish off all the Grunts. The Elites will rush after this making for easy splatter targets. It was annoying the General was still alive and he has killed me here before, but hitting the switch from below isn’t as difficult as going up there to face him.
The rest is standard Legendary Speed Run stuff. The only difference being that I pause for a moment at the top of the building in Farragut to kill the Grunts dropped off from the Spirit: the Phantoms outside Sword Base come exactly after you hit the switch, and I wanted a clean run to the Rocket Launchers without Revenants being dropped on my head!
Nightfall – 5:57
This was a frustrating level since, as a single-level speed run, it’s exceptionally simple in strategy but, in my experience, the route through the first settlement is all luck. This was the very last piece of the route to become final – the strategy for the first settlement I only thought up and perfected the day before I did this run. For several months I yo-yo’d between relying entirely on luck – to completely fighting it out. I’m happy with this route since it’s safe, but doesn’t make the run a full ten minutes!
I chose to grab the very first Camo since you have a height and surprise advantage, and there are fewer enemies nearby than the one at the begining of the first settlement. I was lucky that Ultra Elite and the Jackal weren’t aware of me – usually I would have killed them with the Sniper Rifle from the ridge.
Even running at full speed, the camo means a lot of enemies won’t notice you from a certain distance, so it’s a big help at getting through without being shot. The Spec-Ops Focus Rifle Elite can randomly be on either the building he was here, or the one on the other side. If he’s here, and spots you, he definitely needs to die otherwise the rest of the Covenant will be aware of you, even if you manage to get away from his fire.
Going round the balcony in the first part is pretty standard but, going far around the back of the second part of the first settlement is pretty unusual. The enemies don’t advance to attack you when you’re stood behind that rock in the corner, giving me a good oppurtunity to recharge the Camo and kill some Grunts to clear the way to the next building. Once through the building, I hop up on the rock, right next to an invisible barrier, to get as far as I can while out of reach of the enemies below. The hopping helps me stay on and not slip off. :)
Tip of the Spear – 10:12
In general, this is a slower and very safe version of my old 9-minute single-level speed run.
I was more timid at the first Tyrant since I had had bad experiences with the Ghost killing me before the bridge and with the Skirmishers randomly rolling my ‘hog and causing me to die. So took them out first and since I was already around there I took out the Tyrant from the other side.
Outside BXR I probably could have run behind them easily enough, but I wanted to keep things simple and easy here since the Girder-skip jump freaks me out sometimes.
Long Night of Solace – 26:41
A long mission and annoying one because of the Space fight and the interminable cutscenes. More or less a standard speed run of the level, except longer because I didn’t want to die, got unlucky, and I suck at space. >_<
Exodus – 16:16
This level went very smooth and according to plan. Standard Legendary tactics for the most part, except hijacking a Wraith at the Beachhead rather than the much riskier camo/mongoose method.
I had a very scary moment at the end of jetpacking through the cargo port – the Brute Captain with a Concussion Rifle was much closer than he ever usually is and far more aggressive. He reduced me to just 1 bar of health, which scared me a little and put me off from doing the Jetpack/Grenade Uber-jump up Traxus Tower while there were still enemies around.
New Alexandria – 20:58
This did not go according to plan.
I had a major scare on Buck’s Escort mission (Classified Ops – why did I get Buck? :( ) when I was dogged by a lot more Banshees than I had anticipated and reduced to 1 bar of health again! Some steep banking away just barely saved my life.
I completely failed at grabbing a Banshee for the Hospital Skip, and couldn’t have done the teleport anyway since it was given as my last mission, and since I didn’t have a Jetpack I had to get extracted for evac. That cost nearly 4 minutes. Rather than embarass myself trying to jack a Banshee again, I ended up fighting out the hospital which I really hadn’t wanted to do.
The Package – 21:56
Nice simple DMR clearing of the first area – it’s madness to try and skip it on a single segment since even on a single-level run it takes a lot of re-tries.
The Scorpion section I took really slow, even grabbing a Focus Rifle to take out the gunners of the shades just outside Sword Base. You can simply blow through with your tank, but the time/aiming tolerances are quite low.
I died once before on The Package while trying to hi-jack the Revenant just outside the gates to blow through the courtyard with. After that experience I wasn’t keen to try again so killed it and delt with the courtyard on foot.
The rest is more or less how I tackle it on Mythic – easier in general, but simultaneously with less vehicle health than you have with All Skulls On.
The Pillar of Autumn – 18:40
I didn’t expect the Ultra Elite to go the route he did at the begining so I had to improvise a little with a Plasma Combo.
After an awful death at the Scarabs on a previous attempt, I decided that this time I would spawn them and let them pass before going through the area.
I stuck very close to my 15:56 route for most of the rest. Up until the final room with the Zealots, where I took things very cautiously. I hopped back down to the little hut on the Holdout to grab the Hologram for that little bit of extra reassurance on the Mass Driver.
Total time: 2:20:52
Lone Wolf – 3:03 – 14 Kills
I feel I got a bit cheated with how early this level ended – usually I do better than this. I was also pretty tired, and since it’s a bonus level, I didn’t really care too much anymore either. :)
The stats for each level are linked through the time text, and all the saved films are attached to the stats in the ‘film’ tab.
From the begining of the Winter Contingency to the end of Pillar of Autumn. Lone Wolf is a post-credit bonus level with no set end and is not counted. It is timed the same way Mythic/LASO runs with blind are timed: using the time-bar in the Theatre replay to work out the start and end of when the player actually had control. It is done this way for a Single Segment as using ‘scoring’ for the in-game timer takes the player back to the main menu after each level – adding extra unnessary time for any live recording and extra steps in getting to the next level.
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