Author Topic: Defection PA Guide  (Read 237 times)

Icy

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Defection PA Guide
« on: October 07, 2018, 05:36:18 pm »
Defection on Perfect Agent is a very unique, technical, complicated level, that is somewhat hard to understand. Along with that, the gameplay is very slow, heavy with pausing, watching the opening cutscene, usually low on OCJ, and not very visually pleasing to watch runs of. All of this combined leads to the level being very unpopular, underplayed, and generally stigmatized. This guide is to help explain all the technical details and provide you with a better understanding of the level. I expect anyone who uses this guide to let it be their base, but to also study several runs as well. If you don't study runs or otherwise have extensive understanding of the level, you will not be successful. There is no getting around this.

Defection PA requires lots of knowledge and a unique skillset, so if you are a player with lower skill but good understanding of the game, it's a great level to get yourself ahead of your nearby competition. The level is reliant on many tricks, and it's not really a level you can just rotate to during a session. I highly recommend you study, practice, and make preparations before committing to grinding it. I also recommend that you first achieve Defection Agent 0:06, and a decent time on Defection SA, as PA builds off of both of them. Read here for 0:06, and read here for SA.

If you're new to Defection PA, start with the classic strat.

Classic Strat

The classic strategy's goal is to get to the programmer's door, skip his speeches, and then run to the top as fast as you can. It's the simplest strategy, can yield a good time, and is pretty easy overall, but the downsides are there's a lot of pausing, and a lot of watching the cutscene. I recommend you use this strategy if you're new to the level, and aim for something around 1:30 or so.

The purpose of watching the opening cutscene is because of the lift that the programmer uses. Unfortunately, its cycle is quite out of sync with the timing of when he'll arrive at it, so you'll usually want to watch a lot of cutscene so it'll be open when he gets to it. Ideally, the lift door will close as soon as he's inside, but the less leeway you give yourself, the less likely he's going to make it in time and thus be quick to his terminal. It is possible to catch an earlier cycle and only watch a little of the cutscene, but you need to be exceptionally fast and there are better strategies if you're doing that.

Watch the opening cutscene up to about when Joanna asks "What's the target location?", which will give the programmer (and you) plenty of time for the lift cycle. As you get better, or are willing to be more risky with the programmer making the lift cycle, you can wait additional cutscene, up to about "Dr. Caroll will be in a research...".

Go on top of the door at the start, go out of bounds, and drop down to the railing that wraps about the building. Climb the big X, double crouch, and walk into the hallway. Note that if you enter straight forward that you won't reload the building and fall to the bottom of the level, so approach at an angle, or otherwise step back as you enter. Go up to the door and prepare for pausing. Alternatively if you're extra technical, as you're falling towards the railing, you can aim for the window on the floor above and pop immediately into the hallway. This is a nice timesaver and isn't too difficult. I suggest using the X strat when you're first learning the level.

X Strat Example
Window Strat Example

Now, the programmer has a few lines he must say before he can leave. You can hear the ringing of a phone stop just as he's about to speak. Of course, we're going to want to skip these to save in-game time, but they are very long and inaudible when skipping them. In older runs, players would pause for a long time repeatedly for several minutes, in hopes that the programmer would finish his lines. Karl came up with a trick to significantly make this strategy less degen by using the pause menu music to time when to unpause. If you listen closely to the beat of the music and unpause at the correct time, you'll cut the speech just as it ends, which does lose a tiny bit of speech that could otherwise be skipped, but it very clearly shows the message's text box at the top of the screen, signalling that you've skipped it. This will significantly decrease the real-time spent speech skipping and allow you to play out many runs. Many modern runs use this music trick, so listen very carefully and pay attention for the textbox for the following links:

First Speech Skip (watch to 1:12)
Second Speech Skip (watch to 2:02)
Third Speech Skip (watch to 2:53)

After all three lines have been skipped, you want to bolt it to the top and complete the other objectives. There are a couple guards on the same floor as the programmer, who like to use the same lift, but killing them is tricky and will lure over another guard in the office who won't come out until after several seconds, so it's generally best to just disarm them. Ideally, they'll surrender or just stand around, but they can still occasionally call the programmer's lift and ruin the run. Head up to the top floor, click the button to Cass's office, KO her, and head up to the top. At this point, the programmer on occasion will see you and then decide to not go to his terminal and instead run away, but it's not entirely understood why or how this functions. Switch to the ECM Mine at the console, throw it on there, kill the nearby guards, run to the helipad, pull out the Data Uplink, and hop on top of the door as you did at the start.

From here, depending on how fast you were and how much you're risking for a fast programmer, he may already be in his office, or approaching it. Ideally, you want him to warp into there, so he doesn't stop to open the door. You can either jump straight to his office early, or wait while being perched on the door. From the door, you can see a faded text box appear on the top of the screen when the programmer says "Logging on now...", which signals that he's inside his office and hence warped the door, while also allowing you enough time to jump down and activate the terminal just as he starts.

Example 1
Example 2

To jump down, you want to pop OoB and out the building as you would normally, but then strafe to the left and land on top of the windows. If you accidentally land on the cheese room, try to pop back out by strafing right and then quickly left again. It sounds tricky to land on the window, but because any part of Joanna's hitbox on top of it will keep you on there, it's not that hard. Carefully move over to the terminal, crouch once to be within range, and start pause buffering to time when you can start the uplink. You want to wait until you either see the programmer animate, or hear the sound of keyboard clacking, then start uploading.

The upload takes 5 seconds to complete, and you must stay within range. However, the actual connection location of the terminal is further back against the window, meaning you can take the final jump before it actually completes. You can also immediately switch to ECM Mine after you start the uplink, and it will continue with no problems. To time the leave, make note of the timer after the uplinking message fades out and the timer fades back in. On NTSC and PAL, leave after 1.5s. On Jap, leave after 1s due to the messages lasting longer on-screen. Alternatively, make note of the timer as soon as you activate the terminal, and leave 4s after that, as you want to be overall leaving 1s before the uplink completes. Make sure to uncrouch after falling to stay in range of the uplink terminal for it complete. If you're worried, give yourself a few tenths of leeway. From here, jump onto the last console similar to how you would on SA. You can either back up and go diagonally through underneath the building, or strafe around it to the front. Make sure to practice this and be consistent so that you don't choke on actual runs. It's very easy to do, but takes some muscle memory to learn.

Example 1
Example 2

Once you land on the console, simply throw the ECM Mine and run to the exit. Once you've thrown, don't hold right-strafe, but rather, simply give C-up and C-right a good press and then let go. When you're OoB and in between walls, you can't freely move at fast speed, and doing a tap is much easier to control. Your momentum will put you through to the exit, while providing you enough time to keep the room loaded as the ECM Mine is tossed. Start mashing B and you'll exit.

Here are some runs you should watch in full:

Karl's 1:19
Boss's 1:22
Swiss's 1:22
Jezz's 1:22
Icy's 1:23
Fork's 1:23

Modified RTA Strat

As the name would imply, this strategy is intended for RTA, that is, to be quick in real-time. With just a slight tweak, it's also very viable for ILs. It's a little more complicated and somewhat luck-based, but can yield very fast times and significantly cuts down on both pause buffering and watching cutscenes. If you hate the general nature of Defection PA, use this strategy.

Cut the opening cutscene immediately, go OoB, and hop onto the railing and to the big X. You need a guard to be alerted, who will then open the programmer's office door. Double crouch into the X as you would normally, but sit back a bit so the guard is no longer able to see you. If you're lucky, he'll open the door, and hopefully quickly too. Once the door is open, pop into the building and shoot the programmer in the chest. This will make him skip the phone call entirely and say "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" instead, followed by Joanna's "I've got a password problem..." and another "Don't shoot!...". Make sure he does a fast animation after getting hit or you'll lose time, and then use pause buffering to try and skip the speeches. Once he starts moving, walk along with him to the lift while killing guards and then leave once he's around the double doors. From here, the rest is the same as the classic strategy. This is not as consistent and relies on luck, but can be much more tolerable to play.

Here are some runs:

Boss's 1:19
Mouser's 1:24
Icy's 1:26
Flicker's 1:26
Chibreez's 1:28

Running Programmer Strat

This strategy is a modified classic strat, but has the programmer run to the lift. It has only been used by Boss in modern times and has a few extra technical details, but is not much harder. The downsides are that you must be very fast running up to the top, and because we have a faster programmer and thus need the lift to arrive earlier, we need to watch even more of the opening cutscene. You could go for the earlier lift cycle and instead cut the opening cutscene much earlier, but you won't be able to get WR pace programmers. I only recommend using this strategy if you're very proficient with Defection PA and have solid OCJ, however, it may be possible to create an easier variation of this strategy, but this hasn't been done yet.

Cut the opening cutscene around when Joanna says "How will I recognize him?" or earlier if you want extra leeway. Get to the programmer as fast as you can, ideally by landing in the hallway through the window instead of the big X. After the speech skips, open the door to the office of the 2x Falcon guard, let him see you, then kill him. The purpose of this is when he's alive, the programmer will run towards him instead of the lift, but also when the guard is alerted, he'll also alert the other office guard, who can also distract the programmer. Once the programmer's door opens, let him see you and then speech skip "Help! Intruder!". Once he starts to run, go ahead of him attempting to kill the guards along the way, in particular the other office guard, and then wait by the lift. Once the programmer catches up, shoot him in the chest as you would in the RTA strat and skip the "Move it!" and "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" speeches. From here, the level is the same again, but because the programmer is already all the way at the lift, you have to be faster to the top. If you don't make it to the Data Uplink terminal quickly, you'll start losing time due to him logging in before you arrive, or worse, Dr. Caroll being deleted before you can use the uplink.

Here are some runs:

Boss's 1:14
Boss's 1:16
Boss's 1:18

Additional Strats

With the running programmer strat, you can save an extra bit of time by having him warp through his office door. This is done simply by going around the corner when he's ready to leave, so you unload the hall. The issues with this is you have to kill the 2x Falcon guard before the speech skipping, and you have to warp the programmer blindly while pause buffering. If you head back too early, he won't warp and will open the door like normal. If you head back too late, he'll have walked a bit instead of running, costing you a bit of time. And of course as this is getting the programmer to the lift even earlier, you need the lift to arrive even earlier, and thus, need to watch even more of the opening cutscene.

Here are some runs with the programmer warping:

Boss's 1:12
Boss's 1:13

There is also an ECM Mine trick where you can throw the third, unnecessary ECM Mine onto the programmer. The purpose of this is shooting an attached mine on him will trigger him as if he had been shot, but of course will not animate as if he had been shot, thus giving you an instant reaction. Combining this with everything else allows you very little time to setup the start, killing guards, warping him, and everything else. It is useful however in LTK where you can't otherwise shoot the programmer, which you can see in Boss's 1:21. Boss suggests that around 1:09 is possible with the combination of everything, but this is not only a fairly degen strat, but is also very high OCJ.

You can see a simple and slow LTK variation of the mine strat here:

Boss's LTK 1:21

Closing

I hope this provides enough information with how the level works and explains the complexities that are somewhat subtle in the madness of all the pausing, waiting, and seemingly lack of actual gameplay. As said above, Defection PA is generally a level you have to study and commit to playing than rotating to it during a session. It's somewhat an acquired taste and gets to be much more playable as you understand exactly what you're doing.

If you have any further questions, please ask!