Yesterday Kevin “KevinDDR” Birrell managed to beat Perfect Dark’s Air Force One level in 52 seconds. This made him the second person in history to do so, tying speedrunner Karl “Sim Threat” Jobst’s record, set back in November 2017. From the decibels Birrell let loose upon completion during a livestream, the run was clearly more than just a tie.
“The best run of any game I’ve ever played in my life,” Birrell tweeted out early this morning. According to a speedrunning historian who goes by the name White Goose who follows the Perfect Dark and GoldenEye speedrunning scenes closely, it’s taken Birrell close to a year and some 200 hours of practice to finally break Jobst’s death grip on Air Force One. Previously, Jobst had held unchallenged world records across every difficulty for the level, in addition to dozens more records throughout the rest of the game and GoldenEye. Jobst has also been playing Perfect Dark for over a decade and is currently ranked 2nd in it overall according to Elite Rankings, the site that manages those records for the speedrunning community. In other words, Birrell’s achievement is a big deal, which is why he screamed into a pillow until losing his voice:
The above clip charts Birrell’s progress as he hits the end of the level, with time slowed down because of a buff from a combat boost he’s using. It makes the ending that much more dramatic, as moving even a hair in the wrong direction could cause him to collide with the computer-controlled character walking in front of him keep him from finishing the level in time. “You will not, you will not fuck me!” you can hear him yelling at the NPC in an attempt to will himself into the record books.
Before tying world records in Rare’s acclaimed N64 shooter, Birrell was best known for a different, even more iconic gaming feat: becoming the first Tetris Grand Master outside of Japan. Unlike runners who specialise in particular gaming genres, Birrell’s success in Perfect Dark, a 3D action game, compared to Tetris, a 2D puzzler, shows how good he is at all kinds of games. Next time you need a ringer at the arcade, you might want to call him up.
You can watch his entire world record tying run below.