Welcome to part 2 of my summary for Half-Life,
taking us through to the end of the game. In Power Up, you meet a Garg which is pretty
much invincible. And you’ve got to run through a room with it in. I made the mistake of leaving
it too late and ended up sustaining quite a lot of damage.
I then messed this next bit up by panicking and running, thinking I was going to die otherwise.
To put it simply, I went a long, long way, then got killed like this in a really unfair,
unavoidable encounter. And it loaded me back to the start of it all
again. This time I took it slower, and went to the Track Control room first, and learned
the goal of this level is to restore power to the tram so that it can take you to the
surface. So you fight your way through a series of
corridors, then begin to face soldiers starting in a room with toxic slime at the bottom.
At the top of this you come to this room, which I
remember from my first play-through as being one of the hardest bits of the game. The enemies
don’t reveal themselves until you’re already stuck in the middle of it, but then they keep
coming. It’s here you go down the lift that killed
me last time- but this time I lobbed a grenade down first to detonate the tripmines.
After a room of houndeyes, you must unblock the engine that’s situated in the basement
level. Took me a while to realise, but yes, these
are little leech-like things in the water and yes, they do block your movement and drain
your health. You unblock the machine at the end, trigger the power, then must fight your
way back all the way through where you came. And now the bit I hated as a child- you’ve
got to run through that bit with the Garg again. And it’s faster than you!
With that dealt with, you hop on the train and plough through a barrier to the next level.
And this is such a let-down, because after seeing it plough through a concrete wall you’d
think it could go through anything… but that isn’t the case any more. ‘You’re supposed to take this old rail
system up to some kind of satellite delivery rocket.’
On a Rail is the most confusing chapter of Half-Life 1. I don’t like it. It’s a maze
of rails, but at each stage you inevitably come across a barrier of some kind and must
find a way to clear it. You must fight aliens, soldiers AND powerful gun turrets.
I think back in the day it was less frustrating because vehicles like this were quite a novelty
at the time and I didn’t mind getting lost or travelling through the same bits a few
times. But in this playthrough I just found it annoying, and often didn’t know if I
was making progress or if I was going the wrong way.
Take a look at this bit- you’re going up a lift of some kind, but it also rotates so
it throws your aim off. And it leaves gaps around the edges which made me fall to my
death a few times. Much to my delight this lead to more rail
mazes and blockades. I’m pretty sure I skipped whole parts of
this level, I was expecting to return to them but then would find I was already heading
onto the next. But just know that there’s a lot to explore in these tunnels.
Eventually you reach a sandbag wall and have to head off on foot until you confront this
sandbag bunker. I’m not sure if there’s a clever way of beating these, other than
to lob explosives at it until one goes in and it stops shooting at you.
I got stuck here for a while, wondering where I was supposed to go. I eventually realised
that I had to walk up to this blast door here, which would then open automatically.
After a few guards, I came to… ANOTHER TRAM SEGMENT! This one’s more about dodging enemy
projectiles and laser beam triggers. You eventually reach this room, which looks
innocent enough, but there are enemies hiding behind pretty much everything here, and another
sandbag turret which I swear is close to impossible to clear.
You can beat it from a distance using the gun turret, but it’s probably best to kill
all the other enemies in the room first and then to get close enough to the sandbag to
be able to toss a grenade through. I’m just going to skip the rest of this
segment. It’s more of the same. You FINALLY make it to the surface, to the
satellite launch station. ‘So… who is this guy, ‘Freeman’?’
‘He’ll pay. He will definitely pay.’ The entrance is guarded by this puzzle. The
TNT can’t be detonated, and the beams to activate it can’t be dodged. You’ve got
to use these crates to climb up and around the lip in the ceiling.
This place only has 2 guards! You press the button in this room, and the
satellite is launched. Then after all that, I did this in the TNT
room. You head back the way you came and no doubt
get taken by surprise by a sniper who’s camped up in this corner. You get onto ANOTHER
tram, but luckily this journey is short-lived, as you quickly derail and plummet down into
a flooded chamber, and into Chapter 9: Apprehension. This is a chapter that I like, where it’s
more about figuring out how to get through the room you’re in, than it is about finding
the room you’re trying to get to. And there are some extended underwater segments which
I think would give me more apprehension were it not for how I’m powered through it at
break-neck speeds thanks to the 20 years of FPS experience behind me.
You soon discover that you’re stuck in a rather small section of the level unless you
can find a way of traversing the water in the room you entered from, which is done by
releasing all of the barrels from their cages, which makes them float to the surface for
you to cross over. You make your way past slippery floors and
opportunistic barnacles, then get briefed by a scientist about a new and terrifying
creature. ‘They said it was hauled from the challenger
deep, but I’m positive that beast never swam in terrestrial waters until a week ago.’
And a tranquiliser gun that might help you defeat it.
I used a barnacle to help raise me to the next platform- there must be a safer way of
doing this, surely. This room’s got a bit of a mean trap.
But most of this level involves NOT falling in the water, and the game finding creative
ways to make you. In this room you have to activate these large
crushy things, then jump from one to the other, maybe as training for the next chapter of
the game. The game’s obsession with spawning enemies
behind you gets out of hand at this point. You’re then told that Gordon’s suit is
tracking his location and that you’re best off going through the older, abandoned parts
of the facility. Which means running through a freezing cold room that hurts Gordon, even
with his HEV suit on. It’s here that he faces a new, and incredibly
agile kind of enemy. And then, just as you think you’ve got everything
sussed… ‘GET HIM.’
‘We are we taking this Freeman guy?’ ‘Topside, for questioning.’
‘What the hell for? We got him. Let’s kill him now!’
‘And if they find the body?’ ‘Body? What body?’
‘HEHehehehah haha hHAHHA6’ You’re thrown into a rubbish compactor without
any weapons and must escape before you get crushed. So you climb out of there using the
crates, and to safety. *Then out the back whereupon I found a conveniently
placed crowbar. Then out of a tunnel you go, finally reaching
the desert around Black Mesa, and the 10th Chapter: Residue Processing.
This chapter is a short one, and comprises mostly of an obstacle course- like a 3D version
of a 90’s platformer game. I’ve got to say, these canyons are nostalgic.
After the places I’ve been, having this much free space is a breath of fresh air that
I just hope that Half-Life Alyx will be able to repeat.
Having just been captured and stripped of all your weapons, this is like a mid-game
reset where you suddenly face easier enemies without a weapon again, but in less forgiving
situations. You must drain this water tower then quickly
jump in before it depletes too much, then you enter the rubbish processing plant to
begin the obstacle course. I met a security guard in here. He ran off
while I checked out this first room. Sadly, he didn’t last long.
Turns out this whole place is a big dead end- I actually had to traverse the vat at the
start of this sequence, which leads on to several rooms with death-trap machines and
slippery edges. Quick-saving regularly is sensible.
There are many rooms of traps and machines that you have to survive, then you reach a
timed puzzle where you pause some crushers and must run through them before they activate
again. After a conveyor-belt maze, you make it onto
the 11th Chapter: Questionable Ethics. This seems to be a place where they’re experimenting
on the alien creatures you’ve encountered so far. Unfortunately for me, this starts
with 5 enemies in a room and I had just 6 bullets.
Now empty on ammo, I had to beat this alien grunt to death with a crowbar. Not recommended.
I then tortured headcrabs in the next room, before having to beat a soldier to death with
my crowbar. I’m sure I must have missed a weapon or ammo somewhere.
Still, I bumped into a security guard and together we attacked a large group of soldiers.
Unfortunately, the security guard then released some headcrabs and we both died in the most
pathetic way possible. But going there was worth it, because it contained
numerous advanced weapons that I could use, including Snarks- which are weird little things
which attack anything nearby. As demonstrated here.
All hell broke loose a few rooms later in a large fight between soldiers and aliens.
Then I reached a facility where each room contained a number of enemies, and a laser
that needed to be turned on. The last of these had a Gauss Gun. Not to
be mistaken for Half Life 2’s gravity gun, this is a powerful laser that’s more like
the ones you find on the vehicles in the second game.
With all the lasers activated, I could turn on the BIG RED LASER. In a game that’s done
its best to explain to me what I need to do next, it tips it on its head by warning me
NOT to obstruct the laser shield. Boom. I reach a room with 3 scientists in,
who warn me that the surgical equipment is dangerous and needs to be switched off.
Luckily Eli(?) survives and I lead him to the front door.
And luckily for him, if he dies, it’s game over. So he lives to need rescuing another
day. I escape the laboratory, kill a guard too
late to prevent a slaughter, then begin what I feel is the game’s longest chapter: SURFACE
TENSION. Around this corner is one of the game’s
most iconic set-pieces. So what you want to do here is to shoot the
helicopter down, and to kill the fish in the water so you can pass under the dam. But me
being mostly a Half-Life 2 player, I didn’t realise you could shoot the helicopter down
with small arms so just spent the whole level avoiding it. And I didn’t even realise there
was an Ichthyosaur in the water until THIS happened.
Take 2 was much more successful. I passed through the dam and scaled up, around and
through the canyons around Black Mesa with the helicopter still circling me.
After a fight against some soldiers, I opened the drain hatch. Some of the routes you’ve
got to take are pretty hard to spot, especially this gap between the rocks just here.
I jumped down the drain hatch and towards another iconic moment from the game- which
is accompanied by an even more iconic music track.
FINALLY, I found a rocket-launcher, but just as I got it, it sounded like the helicopter
blew itself up. What an anti-climax. This bit ends with a climb up some ladders…
…and into the tunnels again. This is a bit of the game that drags on. It’s
essentially a series of arenas with different enemies to fight. The first has a water network
down beneath. The second has a tank in the corner.
The third has another kind of tank. You don’t actually have to go through this
gap in the wall- it only leads to a small enemy camp.
After killing the enemies in this section, it actually leads to a rather quiet part of
the game where it’s just you, some scenery to traverse… and annoying snipers in some
of the windows. It’s not made too obvious but you must clear
the minefield just here. This sniper was a pain.
You drop down through a hole in the roof, and into a building laced with explosives.
If they go off then it’s instant death. This is another good time to quick-save. Because
even if you don’t trip these mines, the headcrabs might.
And even this lift can. I can’t imagine anybody gets through this level the first
time they play it. I celebrated escaping from this place by blowing
it all up… which immediately killed me. This is when you get a hornet gun of your
own, with unlimited, recharging ammo! This next bit has some scripted explosions
which will kill you if you’re unlucky enough to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
You go outside and some aliens are dropped from a ship. But soon after the whole place
is carpet-bombed, so rather than fighting them you should retreat back from whence you
came! You still have to deal with a tank and some
soldiers, though. Then you head into the building to clear it out, with help from a security
guard. Upstairs is an extensive armoury to restock
your equipment. Complete with another security guard!
There’s then this bombed building full of enemies.
Then this courtyard with several waves of baddies.
You must use this gun turret to blast the door open.
The game now starts to get a bit more XEN-y, with alien material growing on the walls,
and a small army of aliens descending upon your position and conveniently-placed gun
turret. After clearing this you use this alien trampoline
to reach the first floor. This is when a war between the aliens and
humans begins for real, with alien grunts and their homing wasp guns everywhere. These
enemies can take a LOT OF DAMAGE, so whenever I could I just let them battle the soldiers,
with my job being to finish off whoever was left at the end. I’ll just show the highlights,
because it does go on for quite a while, with a few puzzle rooms serving as temporary respites
from the fighting. This is when you encounter your old friend,
the Garg again. He chases you through the parking lot and to this wall. You’re able
to trampoline over, then must call in an air-strike on its position, which is also used to blast
holes in the structure ahead of you- finally ending this chapter.
Forget About Freeman is the chapter where the soldiers begin to pull out, acknowledging
that whatever’s happening in this base is beyond them. The first room collapses piece
by piece, then it’s onto a generic series of corridors with a tough combination of enemies
to fight as you go. Then you get to what look like disco balls.
But they harbour a dark surprise. I chose to go down the other corridor instead,
which led to this hatch. And another snark nest which needs to be activated.
You head through a quick sewer bit with more of those 90’s era-esque traps. Then you
come to the surface, engage in one final fight, then enter the facility for the final chapter
you spend in Black Mesa. And at this point, my health was incredibly low.
The lambda reactor complex is filled with difficult fights and elaborate puzzles.
You descend down into it on the funicular, kill some aliens, then have another fight
against ninjas which did a good job of sapping my health down again.
You reach a scientist who tells you to power up the reactor.
‘We drew straws to see who should stay behind to let you through. Obviously, I drew the
short one.’ You’re given time to replenish your health
and to restock your supplies, then are given the Gluon gun.
‘I just can’t bring myself to use it on another-‘
…which I’m sure is the most powerful thing in the game!
So to power up the reactor you must embark on a mission to each of the coolant systems.
Both are filled with difficult and nastily spawned enemies that had no problem bringing
my health back down to low again. You swim through a water-logged corridor and
up this circular room laced with enemies and electrical arcs.
Once you’ve cleared out the corridors, you’ve got to tackle the final puzzle in Black-Mesa-
which is a central room with 9 different teleports, each leading to unknown places. The whole
thing is full of ‘GOTCHA’ moments, but I’ll summarise it with this clip where I
finally glitch my way to the Gman. Yeah that’s not supposed to happen.
Some of these teleports lead to certain death. Others launch you back to somewhere else in
the level. Quick-save, and head to port 7. This puts you into another room of teleports
and floating platforms. Get through this to the last encounter with friendly humans you’ll
have. What’s this? A scientist with a shotgun?! You’re told this is all the fault of a single,
incredibly powerful being that you must destroy. You’re given time to stock up.
‘We suspect there is an immense portal over there, created by the intense concentration
of a single, powerful being. You will know it when you see it. I hate to say this, Gordon,
but you must kill it if you can… can’. You get a special crouch-jump move that launches
you forwards at high velocity. Then you enter this room where you must defend the scientist
from attack until the teleport to the alien world is ready to jump into.
‘It’s ready… you must go! NOW!’ You make it to Xen, which makes up the last
4 chapters of the game. But they’re incredibly short ones- each is little more than a single
‘thing’. The first of these ‘things’ is a series
of floating platforms to jump between, leading to a cave full of weird alien things to get
you accustomed to this world’s bizarre rules. Gravity is low outside, but normal inside.
You’ve got to activate some things to get a teleport thing to work. And that’s the
end of the chapter. The next one is a multi-stage battle against
a ‘Big Momma’, which is like a giant headcrab that spews out baby headcrabs to gnaw at your
legs. These are so small and difficult to see they’re a real pain.
You’ve got to inflict damage to this creature until it decides to open up the next area.
This happens a few times, until you eventually kill it in this room. Then into this teleport.
This next chapter is a bit longer. It’s much like the first Xen chapter in that there
are floating platforms, only you’re trying to head upwards, rather than down. I killed
myself several times on the trampoline things- they don’t seem to do anything useful. Instead,
to climb upwards in this level counter-intuitively involves entering an underground chamber of
enemies until you find this spike, which rises up into the air. You’ve then got to drop
down from platform to platform until you reach the teleport.
This leads to a series of alien canyons with an assortment of enemies, including those
large tentacle monsters in their natural habitat! Sneak past these and you enter a large factory.
Inside the barrels are enemies. This bit goes on for a while as you clear
rooms and use moving platforms to climb higher and higher.
Reach the top, enter this teleport and you’re taken to this black and red shrine. Inside,
the final boss awaits. Which happens to be a big floating baby thing
with a head that can open up! The challenge in this fight is figuring out
what you’re meant to do- which involves shooting these glowing crystals to stop the
boss from regenerating health. I tried reaching the top of the room but couldn’t, so just
stood on this first platform until the thing teleported me to a room I had to climb.
I reached the top of this and was teleported back to the main boss, whose head was now
open, revealing a big glowy thing inside. I had to leap up high to shoot at it, but
the boss would quiclly respond by floating higher to obstruct my shots.
But I eventually killed it. ‘Gordon Freeman in the flesh… or rather,
the Hazard Suit. I took the liberty of relieving you of your weapons. Most of them were government
property. As for the suit… I think you’ve earned it.’
‘I have recommended your services to my employers. If you’re interested, just step
into the portal and I will take that as a YES. Otherwise, well… I can offer you a
battle you have no chance of winning.’ ‘TIME TO CHOOSE!’
The G-man gives you a choice. If you don’t enter the teleport, he takes you to a room
full of horrible looking sprite aliens and presumably your demise.
So your only real option is to jump into the teleport, to be put in cold-storage until
the world needs another Half-Life game again. ‘Wisely done, Mister Freeman! I will see
you up ahead.’