Released in April 2005, Area 51 was supposed to be a remake of the arcade classic, but there was a change in plans at the last second. You play as Hazmat Specialist Ethan Cole, who is sent into Area 51 after a virus is leaked and communication with the base's scientists is lost. The virus turns anyone who touches it into a mutant alien.
Best time: 1:19:19 by Peter 'Kibumbi' Knutsson on 2007-08-10, done in 19 segments appended to one file.
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Thanks to TheVoid for helping me test a lot of things in the game, and for discovering some of the tricks and shortcuts used in the run.
Later me and TheVoid also found out that the old run was even cheated. If this was intentional or not we don't know, because the chance of it being a mistake is quite big. To get the JB grenade rocket upgrade you have to scan some blueprints in the level Life or Death. In Mitsukai's run he has the upgrade, but nowhere in the run can you see him scan those blueprints to get it. The problem in this game is the profile management. Once you have scanned an object in the game it will remain as scanned in your profile forever, even if you replay the game from scratch. So it could just have been an overlooked mistake, but it still classifies as cheating, unfortunately.
In contrary to most of the runs I make, this game is very easy to speedrun. You don't have to bother with tricky bunnyhopping or similar things, which can prevent you from optimising other tasks. Just run a lot, push a few buttons and shoot now and then. I decided to do this run on Normal skill since the old run is also done on Normal skill. Basically this is because I wanted to get working on the run right away, and not have to stroll through the entire game a couple of times to unlock Hard mode.
Something that does make researching this game annoying is the total lack of an SDK, console and manual saving. So looking up triggers and testing different things in this game is a real pain in the ass. I don't even dare to think what I might have missed because of that.
Even though you are limited by waiting for your buddies in this level there are a lot of optimisations to do. A bug allow you to pick up the pistol slightly earlier than you're supposed to, finish the firing range really quick and abuse the straferunning a lot when chasing the saboteur.
Not much to say here, the entire level is just a cutscene.
This is quite an annoying level to speedrun. In this level it's important that you get dual SMP (I will refer to it as DSMP from now on) as often as possible, and to make good use of the grenades in the right spots. Since getting DSMP from enemies is a highly random business this level quickly gets frustrating. In the beginning of the level there are 2 useful tricks. The first one is to quickly rush to the door at the end of the hallway to trigger the mutant with the gun, this will prevent any more mutants from spawning in the hallway and you only have to bother with the mutants coming from the windows. The mutants coming from the right set of windows are not invulnerable till they hit the floor, like the ones coming from the left, so therefore I spam grenades to the right to take them out quickly. In the generator room I used a very useful jumping trick to pull off a shortcut. Jumping towards a ledge, holding the jump and crouch button as you hit it will make you "float" up onto the ledge. The trick only works on ledges where you are very close to make the jump without the trick. The thing that might seem odd in this level is the fight just after the cutscene with the mutating scientist. It doesn't matter that some of the kills in there are slow, because the moment you enter that room everything is set on a timer.
In this segment there are a million things that can go wrong, luckily I managed to avoid more or less all of them. Just as in The Hot Zone there are a lot of things connected to timers, which gives me a lot of extra room to refill ammo, health and pick up the shotgun without losing any time doing so. I was very lucky with enemy spawns in this segment, without it this run would be around 8 seconds slower. The shotgun is a very necessary weapon for a speedrun. I kill the bugs way faster than you could do with the SMP/DSMP, pistol and grenades. And the other useful function of the shotgun is that you don't have to reload the entire mag to shoot again, and that's just pure gold when you're being rushed by multiple enemies. When I return with the access card so Crispy can hack the final door I forgot to jump over the railing. The good thing is that it doesn't really matter. After careful comparison of jumping over the railing vs. running back on the catwalk, I found out that jumping over the railing is only about 0.2 seconds faster.
Oh man, am I tired of that cutscene in the beginning of this part. The only thing in this segment worth commenting on is the shack part. I had 4 different strategies for it, and I spent a lot of hours on this level before I realised that the strategy doesn't have any impact on the time, because the entire event after you push the button in the shack is set on a timer already. So the only thing to do was to use the strategy that preserves the most ammo, which is running back to the hole where you enter the shack. This prevents 6 mutants from spawning and climbing into the shack. Just before the fire door cutscene it is necessary to kill those 2 mutants as well, otherwise that cutscene won't be triggered.
A level where straferunning comes well in handy. Another thing that comes in handy is knowledge about the triggers and scripts. To trigger the first cutscene you must kill the mutants close to the Delta Team, and then pop the mutant coming from the right balcony. The first big fight in the big hall is set on a timer, so I don't have to kill a single enemy there, I do pop a few to make it less dull. The second is not set on a timer so I have to kill the waves of mutants there. When heading for the explosives there are two fancy timesavers to use. The first one is to stand near the door, which will allow you to enter just as it opens instead of waiting for your buddy to move aside. The other is a small shortcut, using the good old jumping trick to get over the crates and skipping running on the vents and all that stuff. When getting back I had the only small miss in this entire segment, an enemy blocked my path and I lost around a second. The game's engine won't allow you to be above enemies if you're within a certain limit, so even though I'm way above him I can't run over him, so I have to jump. The final trick is in the turret fight. If I would just shoot all the mutants as quickly as possible this fight is actually slower, because if you let some of them come through your buddies' chatter will be triggered sooner. For being over 9 minutes long this is a well optimised segment.
Rawr, I'm a mutant, ph34r! Yeah whatever... The mutant mode is a very nice addition. Thanks to the powerful attacks a skilled player is more or less invulnerable using the mutant mode. The only drawback is the extreme blooming of light sources, which often obstruct my view and make it impossible to see some obstacles. Thorough knowledge of the level is needed when using mutant mode. Most of the enemies can be ignored in this level, I kill more than enough just to make it more interesting to look at. The only trick in the level is the small cutscene where we get to listen to Marilyn Manson's voice talking to us through a dead scientist, how awesome. The trigger for this cutscene is insanely large, so I can jump out the elevator very early and still trigger it.
This is my kind of level, that means short. The best thing in this level is that you can basically just run past every single enemy. The reason I wait at the first door is that there is an invisible wall blocking the path till the illuminati sergeant has entered and the door has closed behind him. Another annoying thing is the explosion sequence shortly after the lab. Even though the explosion is over the instant kill trigger is active for a few seconds more, and it caused quite a headache when running this level.
I don't really want to comment on anything in this segment, because words aren't really enough for this ridiculously well played segment. But I guess I have to comment on one thing, why I don't use straferunning on that blue thing. The thing here is that the blue thing kills you instantly if you touch it, so I can't go too close to it, and on the other side I risk falling down. This leaves me with only a very small strip in the middle where it's safe to run. And since I don't see where I'm going when I straferun there is basically no chance of success. Try to guess how hard it is to land the first jump from the top of the ladder down to that thing.
A lot of stuff to say about this segment. For starters, you have to be careful where you use the mutant mode. Mutant mode slows down the world around you, and in this level you don't really want that to happen. Some of the fights in this segment are completely random as well, making it close to impossible to get an optimal time. In the first fight you want to use mutant mode, because it's all about killing the enemies as fast as possible. The problem in this fight is that it's completely random. The only thing that's set in stone is that there will be one enemy standing behind the razed scaffolding close to the shotgun. You can never be sure there is gonna be an enemy in the middle, or how many there will be on each side, if the turrets will kill some of them for you and so on. Thanks to this I don't even know exactly how many enemies there are supposed to be in that fight, although I suspect the number is around 7. After this we have a small trick in the airlock. By running back inside the airlock you shave about a second in getting to the enemies faster. The reason I stay on the "wrong" side and run in the "wrong" direction is to touch a certain trigger. If I don't touch this trigger all enemies outside are completely invulnerable for some unexplainable reason. And in this fight you only want to use mutant mode for the first wave, which is just as random as the first fight except for the very first enemy I encounter outside. The first guy I encounter is invulnerable till he has taken a certain stance with his weapon, so that's why I wait a short while before killing him. If you don't deactivate mutant mode after the first wave it will take too long for the second wave to reach you. I shoot off two bursts of parasites to get some cover and extra time needed while morphing into human form. In the part where you are accompanied by Victor there are some peculiar things that can happen. In some attempts he "moves faster" than in others, and this is one of those where he "moves faster". I don't know exactly why or how this happens, but I suspect it has something to do with triggers and scripts going off too soon. When I get into the last chamber it's important not to have mutant mode activated when you enter, you want the enemy mutants to gather first so you don't have to run around half the room for them. When taking the template fluid (whatever that is) it is critical to do it within a certain amount of time. Failing this it will take Victor around 4-5 seconds longer to reach the final door where he gets killed. After Victor is killed we have the most annoying fight in the level. The placement of the enemies in this room is completely random (of course), but I got somewhat lucky in this attempt and they were somewhat gathered. This particular fight can be done about 3 seconds faster, but taking into consideration how random this level is overall getting everything in it absolutely perfect is more or less humanly impossible. Somehow I managed to glitch the "Subject" hatch and it opened about 5 seconds earlier than it's supposed to, and I have no idea how that happened. When I'm escaping there is also a reason why I don't just jump over the debris. There is something, I don't know what it is, that will severely decrease your speed if you try to jump over it, so it turned out to be faster to run around it.
Compared to most levels in this game, this level is quite hard to speedrun. You need to move so precise it's ridiculous. The key thing is to do all the jumps properly, and that's a lot harder than it looks since they're actually highly random (yes, random jumps). The jump over the razed pillar can give you 3-4 different results, even though you jump from the same spot. After that we have the gravity room, where you run across the "bridge". During the final jump you tend to get sucked down just before the ledge, like you had some giant vacuum cleaner beneath you. And sometimes (like in this run) it works just fine. In the cannon room I found a nice shortcut, which let you skip the cannon sequence completely.
In this level health is the key, basically everything I do in this level is to preserve as much health as possible while completing the level as fast as possible. The first trick with the grenade doesn't really save much time (less than a second), but it gives you the element of surprise in the first fight, allowing you to take the Dark Soldiers out without losing any health. When jumping over the railing in the big hall it is important to land on the lower railing, otherwise you will lose too much health. After the spaceship has demolished the wall and that big thing is falling it is necessary to wait until it's somewhat still. The hitboxes of moving objects in this game are completely messed up, if I would jump on that thing while it was still wiggling I would be teleported to the side of it and fall down. In the second big hall comes the shortcut where you need all that health. Rushing over the edge and landing on the wall on the platform below. If you jump instead of just run off the edge you will die, if you overshoot the wall you will die. And sometimes you have the vacuum cleaner effect here as well, where you will just fall straight down as soon as you get over the edge. The two set of stairs just after the lift is a real gamble, running straight into all those enemies can go wrong in a couple of ways. Either you simply get killed, or you get stuck. Trying to avoid a hailstorm of enemy fire while straferunning and clawing enemies at the same time, that was a hard one. At the end I was quite lucky with the jump. I got the angle a little wrong and started heading for the wall (I was about to quit the attempt here), and then I hit this slope and accelerated again and that's the only reason I managed to get sub 2:11.
Frustration, anger and hate. That would be the summary of speedrunning this level. There is always something that doesn't go quite right. The vacuum cleaner effect is a real killer in this level as well. I also have to keep a constant eye on the health, one unit off and you've blown the run. The worst trick in this level is when jumping over the railing into the comm room, the vacuum cleaner ruined well over 500 attempts here. The most neat trick in this level is when destroying the jammers. For the last jammer you normally lower a ladder and climb up to it, but I found out that you can stand well below it and lob a grenade up there instead. The reason I don't do this earlier is because you have to use the computer in the comm room first, otherwise it's impossible to destroy the fourth jammer. It is also important to finish this level with a somewhat good amount of health, it's well needed in the beginning of the next level.
This level is all about making a ton of retries. The first problem comes when you run into the the two waves of alien parasites, which I like to call metroids because they remind me of them for some reason. Anyway, getting through here quickly is somewhat random. So by throwing two grenades I break up the first swarm. Then quickly go into mutant mode and this is the awesome part. Since the world slows down around you the second wave won't have enough time to fully spawn, allowing you to just run past them while taking minimal damage. The shortcut in the large cavern took a while to perfect, it's just insanely hard to do it that smooth. That shortcut is good for two things and not just the obvious time saving abilities, it also keeps you out of range from the turrets and preserves a ton of health thanks to that. "Objective: Destroy the Turrets" my ass, why do that when you can just skip the entire thing?
The tricky thing about this level is that it's much more random than it seems. In the first part it's so easy to miss one of the cloaked RedOps. And for some reason BBG wielding enemies tend to drop more SMP ammo than BBG rifles when you kill them, and that ruins a run because the BBG is needed for the "sniping" part. When doing the turret part it's important to kill off the last enemies as quickly as possible, otherwise they will just stand inactive somewhere till they are removed. And since you won't exit the turret before all of them are gone this can make you lose 7-8 seconds. In the tunnel with the dynamite the 90 degree turn is a result of a really retarded bug in the game. If you stand "too close" the rocks will make you turn, I don't even move the mouse there. The Theta fight is actually the easiest part in the entire level. Just strafe around him in mutant mode and use the claw attack. I also found out that to make it more likely that Theta will not spawn any leapers (which will cost you a lot of time) you must get hit by his claw attack now and then, for some reason that helps in preventing him from jumping off.
A very short and fun level. The only thing I don't like is that all doors are locked till you have cleared the room of enemies and/or turrets. There aren't any awesome shortcuts in this level either. After some trial and error I found out that killing the Gray with parasites is the fastest way.
Shortest segment in the entire run with actual playing (level 2 doesn't count because it's just a cutscene). In this level the key is to make good use of the mutant mode. Both for killing Grays and for bypassing a very annoying event with the extendable bridge. The reason I kill all the enemies in the beginning is to fill up as much mutant mojo I can for the first Gray. Picking up an additional shotgun is needed for the last Gray in the level. The really annoying thing with the Grays is that if you don't kill all the BlackOps they spawn, doors and elevators will remain locked. So that's why I kill all of them. After the second elevator comes the extendable bridge I mentioned earlier, and here I probably do the biggest mutant mode abuse possible in the game. Normally you have to extend the bridge, run about 1/3 across it and then a BlackOps will retract the bridge from the other side. Forcing you to run back, kill him and then extend the bridge again to run across. Thanks to the slowdown of the world around you when you're in mutant mode, it's possible to run across the bridge while it is extending for the first time and make it all the way across. I would call this "The Elegant Solution". In the last Gray fight where you encounter 2 Grays at the same time, you only have enough mutant mojo to take the first one out with parasites. But thanks to the dual shotgun the process with the second one is very short as well. The Meson Cannon is the best weapon for cleaning up the BlackOps mess, because it's basically the equivalent of a BFG-9000 from Doom.
There really isn't anything to say about the beginning of this level, it's very much straight-forward and just do the level as intended. With the exception of running past the enemies you can run past. The fight in the room with the 4 big pillars (or whatever they are) is very random, there is no way to control where and when the enemies will move. In this attempt it did go slightly faster than normal. The next big thing is the Theta fight, and this fight is so broken it's ridiculous. This Theta can release alien parasites instead of leapers, and just as in the Theta fight in "Now Boarding", it is possible to prevent him from doing that. The second thing in this fight is that it's possible to become invulnerable to his melee attacks (I don't know exactly how and why this happens), which makes it impossible to lose this fight, more or less. I strafe around him after the first hit to make each knockback make the Theta move closer to the exit door, so when I finish him off I'm as close to the exit as possible. In the next part you need some really good timing using the mutant mode to make the big tubes line up perfectly for your entry. You want to just be able to slip by the first tube and be able to jump to the side of the other, perfect execution is needed to pull this off.
This level was really frustrating to run. Not because it's hard or anything, but because about during roughly half of the tries that made it to the "boss" the game crashed. The health of turrets in this level seems to be random as well. During one attempt you can kill the turrets with 10 shots, in the next you need 60 shots even though you hit the same spot. In this run I had a small miss on the boss (although I suspect this was a game error since 3 BBG balls is more than enough to break those panels), everything else in this run actually went very well. The turrets had low health, the enemies didn't run off too much and so on. The enemies really like to run away from you in this level. The miss on the boss isn't that much of a problem anyway, if that panel had blown as normal it would've been 1.5 seconds faster at best. The reason I'm not jumping down from the platform where you extend the bridge down to the platform where the bridge connects, is that there is a very lame trigger here. It will kill you instantly before you have even hit the floor, you just die in midair. The rest of the level is very much straight-forward, and there really isn't anything to comment on.
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