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Released in November 2007, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare puts you in the well-worn army boots of various infantry in both the British Special Forces (the SAS) and the United States Marine Corps Force Recon. Thanks to its incredibly cinematic experience and highly-addictive multiplayer modes, COD4 has become a worldwide smash on the Xbox 360, PS3, DS, and PC.

 

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PC version, regular difficulty 1:38:14 by Sami Reinikainen, done in 48 segments.

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Author's comments:

This is my first speedrun. Well, the first official one. I tried my best to make the run as good as possible. CoD4 isn't the best game for speedrunning, but nevertheless I enjoyed running it enormously. This might have something to do with the fact that this was my first real project and thus was something new and exiting. You really need to be an experienced fps player to achieve a good run in this game since most of the time the way to progress fastest in situations is to eliminate all enemies. I used thousands and thousands tries on various situations to get them just right and I'm glad that I pushed myself because I'm finally satisfied with the run.

Some facts: The game has only an autosave option for saving and it's compeletely random at some situations. I edited the videos so that sometimes the segments changes are totally invisible to the human eye. I only ran the missions that are currently up in SDA. Also this run is not done in arcade mode which means no annoying cartoon characters floating around constantly. I also recorded the run in 1280x800 resolution so there's real high quality videos available.

Comments mission by mission:

Prologue - 2 segments
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There's pretty much nothing in this mission that could speed things up other than killing everyone as fast as possible and that's what I do. I did find a nice little trick at the end. When you have eliminated everyone in the container room and Price goes and examines the container, he doesn't really need to get there to start the dialogue. So what I do is make him stop running by shooting at his feet. I guess the game thinks at this point that he is stuck and starts the dialogue with Gaz as if he was there with him.

Blackout - 3 segments
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It really doesn't matter how long you take killing the first enemies. The time it takes Price to open the door to the next area is fixed to a certain point so if you just kill everyone before Price gets there, you're ok. For some reason I take my time killing them. I guess I was just bored. Other than that the mission is straight-forward. Kill enemies to progress faster.

Charlie don't surf - 3 segments
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I choose all the fastest possible routes to the tv-station and basically run past enemies so that I don't waste time killing them. This is where I discovered a strange thing. Sometimes it takes Vasquez 30 seconds to get to the station, sometimes 25 or 23 etc. I did about 20 tries before I got a time that I was happy with. Every now and then Vasquez didn't even come to the station and when I ran back to see what had happened, he was shooting happily at some enemies. At situations like this I just hated to speedrun this game, since it kinda wasn't your own fault that you had to start again, it was the game's idiotic AI.

I could have done the tv room fight faster but this was the only fight in the game that made me want to smash my keyboard through my monitor, so once I got it just about right, I left it that way. All in all, just an awful mission.

The Bog - 1 segment
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No arguments that this was maybe the hardest mission in the game. I had to do it as a single segment since the game didn't give me any autosaves throughout the mission. Not even once. This made it insanely hard for me since I'm a perfectionist and it was really hard for me to let some slips go and just move on. Here's some stats on the possibility of completing this mission with all the shortcuts I intended to take:

15% of the time I get inside the house at the beginning without being killed.
60% of the time the game bugged so that I couldn't advance further once I got the the machine gun.
70% of the time I get killed by the bunch of enemies at the next alley after the machine gun part.
50% of the time the guy with the Stinger takes too long to run forward and die.
95% of the time when I run away from the tank at the end and try to blow the AA-gun to pieces, the tank gets destroyed for some reason.

This all adds up to some really small odds of getting a solid segment. I don't even want to remember how long it took me to get this time.

Hunted - 6 segments
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Maybe my favourite mission in the game. Mainly because of the ending since it's just so freaking hard. In a good way since it's all about the player and there's no npc's screwing things up. Once again the fastest way to the end is to kill everyone as fast as possible. The segment changes in this mission are really visible since I deleted the original files for some reason and all I had left was an early encoded version of the mission where I hadn't noticed those choppy changes.

Death from above - 2 segment
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Bad mission for speedrunning. Nothing more to say. One thing: You see the image sharpen alot after about 20 seconds to the mission. I found out that if you fail the mission and the game loads up the closest autosave, the image sharpens for some reason. This is why there's a segment change in the beginning.

War Pig - 1 segment
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At the end I have to wait for the allied tank to shoot the enemy tank. This really breaks the speedrunning in this mission. I also noticed that it doesn't matter how fast you get to the point where you have to wait for the tank to be blown apart. Unless you take forever to get there of course.

I did find a way around the enemy tank to the drop zone without dying but the helicopter didn't arrive until the npc's got there also. Sucks.

Death and Awe - 2 segments
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Another bad mission for speedrunning.

Safehouse - 2 segments
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This mission would normally take a shitload of tries but I found a nice little glitch that makes the level easypeacey. You run straight to the barn where Al'Asad would spawn if you cleared the houses first. This makes Al'Asad to spawn in a different location which is the place I run next. Only hard thing here is the tank near the farm which kills me like 98% of the time.

All Ghillied Up - 2 segments
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Speedrunners nightmare, or a wet dream? It started out as a nightmare since you have to wait MacMillan on every freaking corner, but as time passed by and people found new things, the mission turned upsidedown. My first time on the mission was something like 7:20 and I was really happy with it at that time. Now after 6 months, it's 4:27. This is one of those rare missions where you don't need the npc's with you at the finish line to complete the mission. Thank god for that.

At the beginning it's faster to just kill everyone instead of sneaking past them. When I miss a shot when shooting at the guard in the tower and at the guard by the door, it's on purpose. This makes MacMillan alerted and he starts to run and it saves a couple seconds.

The shortcut that saves a shitload of time I thought wasn't possible since I had tried that jump like a thousand times but then I saw a video up on youtube where some guy managed to do it. I was just doing it wrong. (no surprise there) For some reason when you take this shortcut, the enemies at the other side don't even spawn. Makes it even more easier.

One shot One kill - 3 segments
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I just hate this mission. The rest of the mission is alright but the ending is awful. There's nothing special in this mission to do. Just kill everyone fast.

Heat - 1 segment
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Nothing special about this mission either. I just didn't find ANYTHING that would speed things up at any location.

The Sins of the Father - 8 segments
----------------------

One of the best missions in the game. You get to really speedrun in this mission. I did find out that you can shoot the "bunkers" down yourself so that you don't need to wait for the helicopter to do so. This saves an enormous amount of time. The verifiers were kind enough to point out a mistake I had earlier that made me lose 30 seconds. (I didn't start the fight manually when you are in the tower. Stupid me).

Ultimatum - 2 segments
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My first run through this mission was the fastest that I could ever do. I tried like 30 times again and again but I just couldn't manage to get a better time. Strange. Once again the fastest way is to run past enemies and wait for the npc's to catch on you.

All in - 1 segment
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Everyone loves this mission. Took me hundreds of tries to get past the bunch of enemies at the beginning. After that the mission is pretty straightforward, destroy the tanks, wait for the npc's to cut through the wents.

I did try the other route to the missile silos through the left but I got exactly the same time as before. I did destroy the tanks about 30 seconds faster but it took the npc's 30 seconds longer to get to the end and cut the wents. It's just insanely hard to rambo your way through this route and I only tried it twice and both times the npc's didn't come any faster to the ending area.

No Fighting in the War Room - 6 segments
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Kill everyone as fast as you can and you will have the fastest time. There's nothing more to it.

Game over - 2 segment
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Bad for speedrunning.

Epilogue - 1 segment
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I had a time of 0:53 before I decided to "improve my time". 784 tries and I got it. And for what? A 3 second improvement. Someone slap me.

Total number of segments: 48

 

On 2011-06-13 Mark Amery submitted an improvement to part 12, the Heat segment. This brought the time down with another 45 seconds from 1:38:59 to 1:38:14.

Mark Amery's comments:

For some reason negoxe did this level terribly and it stood out in a bad way from his otherwise very solid run, so I decided to improve it.

To understand what I do here, you need to understand how the level is scripted, so I will explain all the relevant details.

At the start of the level, as soon as you fire a shot or explode a grenade near the troops advancing up the hill, you trigger this dialogue:

Captain Price: Do it.
*Explosives are set off wiping out the enemies on the hill*
SAS: Kaboom.
Gaz: Nice shot mate.
Captain Price: Open fire!

Also, a couple of seconds after you get your third kill of the level, the following dialogue, which will play immediately if the previous lines have already been spoken, and will be added to the dialogue queue and play afterwards if they are still in progress, is triggered:

Captain Price: Squad, hold your ground. They think we're a larger force than we really are.
Gaz: Copy.

After Gaz says 'Copy', the game again starts counting your kills. Three kills after Gaz says 'Copy', a timer of roughly 34.5 seconds is started, after which begins the dialogue which starts with the line

SAS: They're putting up smokescreens. Mac - you see anything?

After that it's just a script on a fixed timer up until the end of the mortar bombardment, at which point two things happen. First, a bunch of sections of barbed wire get deleted, and the enemies on the slope start moving towards the gaps. Secondly, a new kill counter gets activated, and after six or seven kills the first wave of enemy helicopters spawn in and start moving into position to drop off their troops.

This is a good moment to stop discussing the actual level scipting and instead discuss the stategy I use and why. My first goal is to activate the trigger for killing the third enemy after Gaz says 'Copy' as quickly as possible, to start the countdown to the smokescreens and the mortar bombardment. A theoretical perfect run would do this by triggering the explosives on the hill as soon as possible, then moving forward and getting three kills while the dialogue associated with triggering the explosives goes on, then wait until Gaz says 'Copy' and quickly get three more kills.

The problem with this approach in practice is that if you trigger the explosives early, then unless you have superhuman skills you won't have time to get three kills on the initial wave of enemies before they all get killed by the explosives, and will have to wait for more enemies to spawn in to get the kills needed to trigger Price's "Squad, hold your ground" dialogue.

Instead, I run straight up to the fence at the start of the level and then shoot three enemies once I get there, delaying triggering the explosives enough to give me time to get the kills in. A possible area for improvement in this run is firing the first shot a little earlier to trigger the explosives sooner, making everything subsequently occur that much earlier.

I want to activate the three-kill trigger after Gaz says 'Copy' as quickly as possible, so While Price is giving his "Squad, hold your ground" dialogue, I chuck a couple of grenades. These grenades actually get two kills (though you don't see them very well in the video). This means that the final kill I get with my sniper rifle is actually redundant; I've already hit three kills and activated the trigger by then that starts the 34.5 second timer to the smokescreens going up.

I use those 34.5 seconds to plant a bunch of Claymores at all the spots where the barbed wire will open later. These will kill a whole load of enemies the moment they start advancing after the gaps in the barbed wire appear, immediately spawning in the helicopters.

After that, the mission becomes simpler. There's a fixed delay until the detonators become usable, and as soon as they do, I use them all as quickly as possible. After that the tanks spawn and the Javelin becomes usable, so I immediately head towards the Javelin, saving a little time by leaving the building through the window instead of the door.

Once the final tank is destroyed, a long scripted sequence of dialogue, delays, and aerial bombings begins. A long way in comes the line

Sea Knight Pilot: Bravo Six, The LZ is too hot! We cannot land at the farm! Repeat, we CANNOT land at the farm! We're picking up SAM sites all over these mountains!

The moment this line begins to be spoken, a trigger is created around the landing zone which, once you enter it, will spawn in the Sea Knight.

Basically, then, once I get the Javelin, I destroy the four tanks as quickly as possible, and then after that I make sure I get within the trigger zone to spawn the Sea Knight before the trigger is created, to spawn the Sea Knight at the earliest possible moment.

After that, I luck-manipulate not having any of my teammates take a hit whilst running onto the chopper, which would slow them down and delay our departure. Then the level is over.

Individual-levels run of Xbox 360 Arcade mode in 1:52:32:

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Stage name Time Date Player
Crew Expendable 0:06:12 2008-03-03 Andrew Mills
Blackout 0:07:37 2008-01-27 Andrew Mills
Charlie don't Surf 0:07:25 2008-03-27 Andrew Mills
The Bog 0:07:25 2008-03-16 Andrew Mills
Hunted 0:08:01 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
Death from Above 0:09:30 2008-01-27 Andrew Mills
War Pig 0:04:25 2008-03-03 Andrew Mills
Shock and Awe 0:07:05 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
Safehouse 0:05:14 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
All Ghillied up 0:04:21 2012-05-30 AJ 'ss4_link' Stainer
One Shot, One Kill 0:10:40 2008-03-16 Andrew Mills
Heat 0:06:48 2008-03-16 Andrew Mills
The Sins of the Father 0:06:30 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
Ultimatum 0:06:28 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
All in 0:02:28 2008-01-27 Andrew Mills
No Fighting in the War Room 0:06:53 2008-03-17 Andrew Mills
Game Over 0:04:11 2008-01-27 Andrew Mills
Mile High Club 0:00:58 2008-01-25 Andrew Mills

Andrew Mills' comments:

Playing an 'authentic' role of a SAS member has always appealed to me. Ever since reading the absolutely amazing 'Bravo Two Zero' from Andy McNab, my fascination with the 22nd Regiment has rarely been satisfied. So I knew deep down - even before its release - that Call of Duty 4 would be the next game that became my mini-obsession. And that's exactly what happened. With its relentless set-pieces and Infinity Ward's pedigree, it became an instant love affair for me (spending 8 hours non-stop going for the Mile High Club achievement bore testimony to its hold over me).

Disregarding the blatant cheap design flaws made all the more apparent when playing on the Veteran difficulty, COD4 simply plays beautifully, and I knew from day one that I'd eventually want to produce a speedrun of this game, which is where we stand today.

I've decided to go with the games normal difficulty level - regular - for my first run (as my time and sanity levels dwindle dramatically when playing Veteran) in a hope to get the proverbial ball running for others to follow. The arcade mode lends itself perfectly to this goal, as it has an in-game timer that decreases from a set time (making timing this game a cinch).

The run is certainly far from optimal, in fact, near the very end of the run (most notably 'Hunted' and 'No Fighting in the War Room'), my life's commitments prevented me from really improving on what you see. But overall, I'm genuinely satisfied with the results I've achieved. And I hope you all are too...

Oh, and if your PC can handle SDA's HQ files, then I honestly recommend you get those. At nearly 2 gigs it's a hefty download, but the quality - IMHO - is simply beautiful. Captured using an RGB capture card with a lossless codec and de-interlaced with mvbob. It's 60fps of pure beauty. I promise you that you won't be disappointed with the HQ version...

General Points to consider:

COD4 has a few obvious 'design choices' shall we say, that are exploitable for speedrunning purposes. Many enemies are created when certain 'trigger points' in the level have yet to be reached (most notable in the TV room on 'Charlie Don't Surf' and on the plane on the 'Mile High Cub'). If you don't pass them quickly enough, then more and more enemies spawn, slowing you down even more.

The trick is to learn where they are and then how you can reach them as quick as possible. For the vast majority of the missions, your colleagues are in fact invincible and possess infinite ammo. So it'd be a real shame not to take advantage of this (as seen on the level 'One Shot One Kill'), as they can speed up past certain sections if you can pass the relevant level trigger points quick enough.

Different weapons affect your running speed, so running with an LMG in your hands will be slower than running with the C4 detonator (which I recommend you do if C4 is available to you on that level). It's not a huge difference, but any is better than none!

And finally, you can sort of 'bunny hop' around levels, which essentially preserves your running stamina for FAR longer, whilst still giving you the momentum and speed as if you were still running. Granted, you don't get any faster, but you CAN get around the levels noticeably faster...

So there we are, a sub 2-hr run on Call of Duty 4. I hope you've enjoyed the notes and the run, and if anyone feels like beating these times, please feel free to do so. My next plans for running COD4 include possibly a SS Recruit run and/or a segmented Veteran run (muchos Kudos goes to anyone crazy enough to do a Veteran SS speedrun!).

I'd like to thank everyone who contributed in the COD4 topic at SDA, to ballofsnow for his advice with the encoding and of course to everyone who works hard behind the scenes at SDA. See you all next time!

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