"Simply complete all of the objectives in the fastest possible time"
It will be assumed that the reader is familiar with the missions themselves and the basic conditions necessary to complete a given mission. Many missions are non-linear and objectives can be completed in any order; routes used are the product of years of optimization.
Many techniques which are not listed here are used to save minutes, seconds and fractions of seconds: however, as almost all of these can be figured out simply by watching a video of somebody doing a speed run, only those which aren't immediately obvious will be revealed.
Speed strafing: Basically, running forwards and strafing left or right at the same time results in you moving diagonally roughly 40% faster than just running forwards alone. This phenomenon is common to both GoldenEye and Perfect Dark so it's standard to speed-strafe throughout the whole of any given speed run, except when it's necessary to look or shoot at something directly ahead of you. It becomes very hard to unlearn this practice for games where it doesn't work, like TimeSplitters2.
General guard strategy: Guards are only shot if they are critical mission objectives, they obstruct mission objectives or it would be too dangerous not to shoot them. In Perfect Agent mode (the hardest difficulty setting) it is this last factor that becomes most important. Guards in PA are sharper shooters and do you more damage than in SA or Agent, meaning an area one could run straight through with impunity in Agent becomes lethally dangerous in PA. Also, there are no shields on PA.
Even so, players shoot the bare minimum of guards, often waiting for the one in a hundred chance where they survive all the dangerous areas and complete the level. Even duplicating a world record PA run step-for-step is no guarantee of survival, due to this randomness.
Speech-skipping: Certain portions of scripted speech must be sat through in order to complete a given mission, and the timer keeps running throughout this. However, some speeches can be skipped by hitting Start to pause the game at the instant the speech begins. The speech goes on while the game and the timer are paused - then you can rejoin the game, having saved several seconds. Not all speech can be skipped in this manner, however; and not all speech NEEDS skipping.
Cinematics: Elevators and many other things (guards, bots) move in realtime throughout opening cinematics. Many of these are critical mission objectives, but the clock doesn't start until the mission does, so the moment players exit the cinema is usually calculated so that this or that elevator is open and waiting for them when they reach it, as much as 150 seconds later.
Intermediate cinematics - except G5 - and closing cinematics are of course skipped. For reasons unknown it is usually impossible to skip anything but the last second of the closing cinema in Deep Sea.
Elevators: All elevators move 17% slower in PAL (Europe, Australia) than they do in NTSC (North/South America) versions of the game. This timing difference is generally bad for PAL, but not always: see Maian SOS.
Reloading: It is always quicker and sometimes more convenient to switch weapon and then switch back again (either manually or through the pause menu) than to endure the reload animation.
The Defection glitch, discovered in June 2001 by Ben Gorman, is performed by jumping off the helipad onto a guard's head, strafing right through a fault in the skyscraper roof and free-falling directly into the top of the basement elevator, thus circumventing the entire elevator ride and some strafing to and from it. This reduced the Agent record for this level from 33 seconds to just 6. You can also jump from the top of the door, without the aid of a nearby guard.
Modifications of the technique, requiring considerably more precision, are used on SA and PA.
On Agent, regardless of how late you leave the cinema, or even if you watch all of it, you still have plenty of time to complete the CamSpy objective before the cleaning bot deactivates the lasers for you. The exact time at which the bot takes down the lasers varies from run to run. Lots of work has gone into finding a way to circumvent the lasers or to determine what factors influence the bot's speed - no luck so far. However, it seems to move consistently faster on copies of the game that were manufactured after the initial release. This makes faster times easier to get on those cartridges.
On Agent/SA, you can drop the CamSpy on the other side of the last set of lasers to open a door or two while you're waiting. It's not necessary to actually hurt yourself on the lasers, but people do it for speed.
On SA the situation with the bot is the same: plenty of time to complete all objectives before it reaches the lasers. But since the bot is manually triggered, that means you need to trigger the bot as your first priority. Everything else is completed at high speed while it trundles towards the lasers.
The situation on PA is much like SA, only with considerably more objectives. Beating all the objectives in the time between activating the bot and it reaching the lasers is much more difficult (in fact, near-suicidal) and involves a dangerous number of random factors. However, it can still be done.
Survival of the Data Uplink section using the above PA strategy is a huge gamble which only rarely pays off, but saves at least 15 seconds compared with securing the area first.
It's not necessary to babysit Dr. Carrol all the way to the top of the building, as long as he's alive come the end of the level, you'll beat the mission. Whether he can survive a lobbyful of guards on his own is a matter of luck and difficulty setting.
People punch out the glass in the elevator mainly through boredom.
Agent only: By pressing B from inside the elevator once you reach the top, it's possible to open the (otherwise locked) door next to it from the other side, saving at least 15 seconds. This is still possible (though unused) on SA/PA.
On PA this is a deathtrap of a level to do quickly, and survival is the challenge more than anything.
On Agent there's a slight glitch on the first set of stairs inside the villa which allows you to bounce momentarily off the banister, saving ~0.1 seconds.
On Perfect Agent, the knocked out hacker incidentally completes the "take a guard alive" objective.
The snipers are dormant until the two executioners are killed. On PA, since killing them isn't an objective, you therefore leave them alive for (relative) safety.
Still on PA: throwing the Laptop Sentry Gun in a strategic place on the roof allows it to automatically rotate and take out the majority of the snipers while you get on with more important objectives. But it needs at least ~120 ammo, and will take all of yours with it when you throw it...
All the guards in the second basement must be killed to get the final keycard. This is a pretty big random factor which can make or break a run on any difficulty setting.
While reprogramming the taxi is the traditional method of creating the distraction, and using the BombSpy hidden in a nearby dumpster is a well-known alternative, an accurately-thrown remote mine will do the job just as well, much faster. On Agent, that is. On SA and PA, the remote mine is needed for an objective so it's back to the BombSpy.
At the start of a level it's quicker to pause and select the Falcon than just to wait for it to come out manually. This technique is most famously exploited on the Duel mission.
Locations and movements of cloaked guards are predictable.
Only a few guards actually run for and try to activate alarms - some of these can be avoided, saving the trouble of shooting them.
The method of letting the safe unlock (and swing open) during the intermediate cutscene is well-known; indeed, needed to earn the cheat on Agent, but saves time on all settings.
The lift control panel can be operated from the far side.
It's quicker (i.e., possible) to activate the lift and place the explosives while you wait for it.
The lift door can be closed manually, you don't have to wait (although making it back to the lift after placing the explosives requires you to be pretty fast anyway).
On PA the world record strategy for this level is absolutely suicidal - making it all the way through it alive is insanely difficult. The cinema is timed so that the tech person is right next to the lift when he's needed for the keycard.
On SA and PA, keeping your back to the drone gun in the antenna area usually stops it from shooting at you.
SA/PA still: While you can't ordinarily throw the tracker bug onto the antenna without lowering it first, crouching and then throwing the bug as you stand up makes it go further (its speed is added to yours as you rise from crouching). You still need to keep your eye on it until it lands, though, because otherwise it falls through, regardless of whether it was on target or not, and you fail the objective.
SA/PA still: Walking through the minefield without getting blown up is no great trick; just line up with the right leg of the H.
SA/PA still: Use the rocket launcher (or a grenade, if you get it) to blow up all the lasers in the bunker area, enabling quick escape.
On PAL only, a flood of guards is behind the final door, which is also closed - this costs about 1 second in addition to elevator speed considerations.
In case you weren't aware, you can close the lifts yourself.
A proximity-primed Dragon is a perfectly good substitute for the explosive crate.
On Agent, Whether the lab guy is behind the weak section of wall on time is random in the extreme. He is not there from the very start of the level. If he's too late, you have to go and find him.
On PA the disguise is in the showers like on SA, but the showers are locked; to avoid the crawl through the vents, you can just shoot to attract the attention of one of the guards inside. An age-old strategy.
Many people don't recognise you once you're in uniform... so they're ignored.
Closing the door to the first lab area forces the biotech guys to open it when they come through to ambush you; letting you escape faster. Otherwise, it closes before you can get back to it.
Jonathan slows down to shoot stuff and it's vital to take care of guards before he sees them to keep him moving as fast as possible.
On SA/PA, the two grenades fired right after contacting Jon take out a bundle of guards who would otherwise ambush and slow you both down.
The remote mines only appear if you get Elvis to his safe deposit area fast enough at the start of the level. "Fast enough" is pretty much impossible NOT to achieve on a speed run - it's something like 45 seconds.
The remote mines are placed to blow up bad guys later in the level when they're needed.
The medpack completes not after a set amount of time but after a set number of guards are killed. That's what the remote mines are intended for in this case.
When Jonathan says he will open the hangar doors, you can activate them yourself for a much faster escape than either waiting for Jon to do it, or letting Joanna SAY that she will do it herself, resulting in a lengthy (but fun) escape by hoverbike.
On SA/PA, the CamSpy is used to block the first lift's doors open, and also to open a door, reducing the time undisguised Jo spends in front of the secretary (if she spots you, the mission fails).
Only one or two guards on this level attempt to sound the alarm, the rest can be evaded.
On Agent (and sometimes SA), the proximity Dragon takes out a pane of glass which allows you to take a shortcut from the blue computer to the elevator; this saves about 2 seconds.
On PA only: As in GoldenEye, it doesn't matter what side of the safe you're on to get the briefcase out of it, as long as it's unlocked and open; just nuzzling the back will do the trick.
A/SA: When you're shooting the laser computer, the auto-aim will point at nearby guards unless you turn it off. Some people do the whole level without it, since not much shooting is required.
Depending on how you finish the previous level, you'll start in a different place on this one. On Agent, you'll want to start from the middle floor of the aircraft, meaning you should use the passenger pod exit from the Air Base; on SA/PA, you'll need to start from the lowest floor, meaning you need to exit Air Base via the ladder by Air Force One's landing gear.
SA/PA: Re-opening the door keeps it open for when you get back to it.
SA/PA: It's not necessary to knock out the kitchen staff, but it kills some time.
SA/PA: You can stand up in the dumbwaiter to open the door earlier.
Combat boosts rock (in terms of improving your move/shoot accuracy and reaction time).
PA only: The Laptop Sentry Gun will protect the President while he gets to the escape capsule, so you can take care of more important matters, like stopping the plane from crashing.
You need the hoverbike for speed runs on this level. This means you should activate the hoverbike elevator in the previous one, perhaps on some non-speed run attempt.
How does Jo steer with just her knees?
Agent/SA: The first mine thrown is on the escape path of the clone President. When they are detonated, the clone is taken out too, though offscreen.
Trent won't leave until all four sentry droids are destroyed.
PA only: You have to make sure the Prez doesn't see you and follow you as you loop around behind him and back into the caves, otherwise he doesn't meet Elvis and escape.
The Gold Magnum is far more efficient than the Remote mines for destroying the alien ship.
More alarm button-happy guards. Not only do the additional guards summoned by the alarms slow you down, they also kill the framerate which is already low on this level, what with the X-ray vision already.
The reactor panels are random.
Cunning speech-skipping and punching in the control room will make BOTH objectives complete on their own without you having to stick around for the chatting, walking and the guy who pulls a gun.
You can activate the button which opens the door to the Moon Pool from the other side of the wall, using the X-ray scanner. This saves a hefty amount of time.
The Farsight tricks used on A and SA on this level to avoid tedious Elvis-defending are PAL-only. The NTSC Farsight doesn't have the range to shoot the canisters - which are usually only involved on PA, but still a part of the level - through the wall.
On PA, canisters (many of which need shooting to unlock doors) can be shot through half-opened doors. Not fully closed ones, though.
To complete the hostage objective, only the bare minimum of hostages need rescuing, but ALL of them need "visiting". So for many we just open the door and walk away, or shoot the hostage yourself.
On PA, if you save Grimshaw, he gives you a Devastator which is considerably faster for taking out the secret files than the laser. Just fire and forget.
Agent only: it's possible to open the door to one of the hostage rooms on the top floor *through the wall* from outside the OTHER door. This saves about 2 seconds of detour.
It's unknown if skipping the final speech saves any time.
On PA, the grenade fired into the hologram training room is intended to kill the hostage, not the guards.
Skedar are vulnerable to attacks on their tail; e.g. with a knife.
Particularly on higher difficulty settings, don't let the Mauler charge by more than a few shots when taking down the shield generators: you need that ammo.
Skedar are lousy shots, but there's lots of them...
The elevator in the hangar is activated by you and the Maians killing a set number of Skedar there.
You just have to hope Elvis completes his map objective by the time you get to the door to the top elevator, which is locked if he oh so frequently doesn't... You can help him, however, by killing all the Skedar he's likely to run into, in order to speed him up/prevent him dying.
On SA, recalling the first lift is a timing thing: there are several other constantly-moving lifts later in the level which need timing, whereas this first one is relatively flexible.
The head Skedar on the bridge carries twin Maulers, which you can find if you look for them.
There are five pillars on this level and three of them are randomly selected to be the targets at the start of the level. This makes ten combinations (trust me), but only one of them is optimal... leading to a whole lot of restarting until the pillars are right...
Ordinarily one would climb the other side of the ravine, blast through a wall and reach the bridge that way. However, a bug in the level landscape means you can just hug the right wall as you go off the end of the ravine and warp up to where the bridge is. The "blow down the wall" objective doesn't seem particularly worried about this... UNLESS you use up all your Devastator ammo by the end of the mission, which makes it automatically assume you failed it. So you must keep at least one grenade round in reserve no matter what.
Activating the bridge is fiddly and time-consuming, but using an explosive boost it's possible to push yourself across the bridge and continue the level. With skill it's even possible to get across without any explosives at all, but that's really hard. Either way, once you're a few steps into the next area the objective marks itself completed, bridge activated or not. It can still be failed by spending all your Devastator rounds though! The explosive jump is of course quite dangerous on SA and VERY dangerous on PA.
On SA/PA it's generally the all but useless Falcon 2 which is sacrificed to open the door. All you have to do is press B in front of the shrine; there's a pause before the weapon is taken, during which you're free to run off and keep on through the level. Just don't forget yourself and switch weapon as you run, or the shrine will take the newly-selected weapon instead!
You don't actually have to take out the Skedar "army" unless you're playing on PA. Keep a grenade in reserve, remember.
Using the highly penetrative Callisto rounds it's possible to take out the bottom two prongs of the shrine in one go. With skill you CAN instead take out the right-hand two at the same time and then the left-hand two, which would save more time but this is exceptionally difficult to do once, let alone twice on the same run.
Doors are almost all random.
Mr. Blonde's Revenge
Regardless of the opening cinema, there's still a short time before the lift arrives so mistakes at this point don't matter much.
On PA, the BombSpy can take out the dD bodyguard immediately after she appears in the lift, meaning you needn't wait 10 or more seconds for her lift to reach you.
The open-locked-door-from-inside-lift trick from Extraction is used again here.
Cassandra is the most infuriating non-player character... EVER. The odds of her not stopping to talk and running smoothly all the way to the exit like she does in the WR runs you'll have seen are of the order of a billion to one.
In case you miss what happens right at the start, the startled scientist pulls a gun on you, which you steal approximately one frame later.
For a faster escape, the pause-pull-out-Falcon trick is used again here.
On SA/PA, shooting the wall attracts guards from the next lab over. They open the door to the alien corpse for you, saving a trip all the way down and back.
Still on SA/PA, shooting the next wall attracts a guard down the lift in the big warehouse area. Ordinarily on NTSC this lift is in the wrong place when you get to it, but via this method you can catch it.
This level is dangerous on A, let alone PA, and you'll need copious ammo to take out the flying saucer.
On PAL Agent there's a lift which a VERY fast player can just about catch if he times the cinema right. On NTSC it's too fast to catch and the lifts are all wrong. This is the only level on which PAL has the advantage for lifts.
Throwing the proxy Dragon isn't really necessary, but fun.
You wait a little for the smoke from the explosion to evaporate: it slows you down.
The Phoenix is used for boosts. Boosts from explosions are less effective in PD than in GoldenEye but were still enough to cut a second off the WR.
It takes a lot of tries for the first door to be open for you... It's completely random, but especially necessary on Agent for the fastest possible run. On higher levels, doors are your worst enemy.
A headshot to the Kings kills them, but often there are other Skedar in the way...
The old pause-and-pull trick saves a whole second on this level, which is entirely a matter of timing and skill.
On SA and PA, Johnny can be in either position: it's luck that he's at your end.
An accurate headshot or Jonathan's Magnum to the chest are needed to finish Trent: both require expert timing.