Half-Life: On A Rail

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

As Gordon Freeman rides a monorail in the Materials Transport section of Black Mesa, he learns from a security guard that he must ride to the High Altitude Launch Center to launch a satellite, which the Lambda Team can use to reverse the effects of the Resonance Cascade.

He also discovers the HECU’s true hatred for him, as well as larger reinforcements: sandbag bunkers with rapid-fire sniper rifles, mounted machine gun turrets (manual and automated), and even mounted rocket launchers.

After going round in circles, it seems, for a while, he goes up several elevators and at last reaches the surface again. At the launch site, he sends the rocket up into orbit, and regretfully goes back below ground.

Trivia
  • No trivia for this chapter. 🙁
The Poll


Challenges

The challenges below have been set by 2muchvideogames

  • Find all 3 HEV wall chargers in this chapter.
  • Find the secret area with the 3 batteries.
  • Kill the soldier before he can press the plunger that detonates the explosives.
  • Ride on the rocket for a few seconds.
Saves

MEDIUM: 70 Health 27 HEV [67KB]

HARD: I need a HARD save for this level. Do you ahve one? Please send it to me.

Screenshots

Click on the thumbnails below to open a 1024 pixel wide image.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: On A Rail
The Replay Experience Experiment

This post is part of the The Replay Experience Experiment 2012 event. This is a chance to replay all the Half-Life games and discuss them based on our experiences since we first played them.

Hat Tip

All text taken from the CombineOverWiki, a fan-supported, editable wiki covering the Half-Life series of games.

A Complete Half-Life Walkthrough
A Complete Half-Life Walkthrough

On the left is a complete text walkthrough for Half-Life.

It has been written by Stanley E. Dunigan and updated with all the tricks and tips from PlanetPhillip.Com readers.

It is in PDF format, meaning you can open it directly in modern browsers or download it and print it.

(Left-click to open and right-click to save)

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21 Comments

  1. Summary

    I have to admit I was a little apprehensive when I started to play this level. I vaguely remember it being quite frustrating and a little confusing. I was wrong though. It wasn’t that bad. Perhaps because I hardly even used the train. I kinda feel that Valve made it too easy to run along the side of the track and maybe should have forced me to ride it more.

    That said, I might have been a little angry if they had.

    Overall, I feel it was an action packed chapter, with the introduction of the satchel charges and the fixed guns.

    Just another tease of getting to the surface.

    I actually missed what the security guard had to say, as I saved in in the middle of his speech. From now on, I will save just before the next level.

    Gameplay

    This is not as linear as it may first seem and I am sure I took a completely different route from you. This is one of the times where I would love to see a complete layout of the level, with marks for which way players went.

    Since I hardly rode the monorail, I felt I had more control over the encounters and this is as close to stealth gameplay as I like to get. Edging around the corner to see what’s there is just right for me.

    I was surprised by the number of bullsquids in this area, I wonder if there is any significance there.

    I loved the way the “floor” with the two soldiers on it rose to match the rail platform. I had already killed them by then, but if I hadn’t that would have been tough. I suspect that was an interesting technical problem for the designers.

    Points of Interest

    I certainly don’t remember seeing the base of the rocket the first time I played it, so that was new for me.

    You gotta love the green weapons when you get outside. We had the same thing in a previous level.

    G-man Sightings

    I didn’t see him this time. Did you? Is he even in this chapter?

    Bugs or Errors

    I found a couple of little errors in this chapter. There’s a hole in the wall outside the missile silo, that you can see through. You can even climb the blue pipes and get to the top but you can’t see much.

    There was a little hole in an underwater section and also a weapon half-way through a way.

    The Poll

    I voted “Almost Nothing”.

    Challenges

    – Find all 3 HEV wall chargers in this chapter.
    – Find the secret area with the 3 batteries.
    – Kill the soldier before he can press the plunger that detonates the explosives.
    – Ride on the rocket for a few seconds.

    Can somebody show me how to ride the rocket?

    5 Words or Less Review

    Why even bother riding it?

    PlayTime

    1 hour 2 minutes
    Although some of that was saving and going back to try different tactics

    Deaths

    4
    Once at the part with the soldiers are waiting above you.
    Once at the part where the soldiers are on your left behind a red rail
    Once outside the missile silo
    Once where I tried to jump down a shaft to get to what I thought might be a secret area.

    1. dude you are on fire, 2 levels in 2 days, I’ll have to make my vids faster too. to answer your questions, no there is no gman in this level.
      I am currently editing my vid (removing level transitions and stuff) and you can see it when I post it. I didn’t actually ride the rocket, but you can clearly see how to do it in my vid. I just didn’t have time for this.

    2. Also about the barney, (here come the hl geek) he says:

      Freeman, I’ve been waiting for you, one of your scientist pals said to give you a message. You’re supposed to take this old rail system up to some kind of satellite delivery rocket. I don’t know where it is exactly and the old guy was so worried about getting out of here alive he didn’t tell me. the main thing is the military aborted the launch, so when you do find the rocket you’ll have to get up to the control room and launch it yourself. he said something about people in the lambda lab needed the sattelite if they want to eventually clean up this mess.

      Sorry if there are some small mistakes in the speech, but I wrote it from memory.

  2. This long chapter seems to be a predecessor of Half-Life 2’s vehicle levels. We board a train, and sometimes we leave it for some exploration or to open a bar or move a crane which is on the way.

    There’s an easter egg: if you break the ventilation grate under this staircase,
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251506806301
    you will get under the floor, there’s a writing on the wall which says “RILLER”:
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251506827242/?
    I don’t know what it means.

    Half-Life Source’s glitch of not moving ragdolls through changelevel is very noticeable in this chapter:
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251507220502
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251507216356

    There are various obstacles and traps on our way: electrified water, soldier with rocket launcher, stationary guns, hanging electrified wire, moving crates which can push us right into the turret’s laser.

    The layout is complex, sometimes we can choose which path to take. If our choice is lucky, we can shoot some soldier’s head from the magnum before he notices us. Sometimes we can look down and see that we’re above an area where we were before.

    Elevator which leads to passage barricaded with explosives has nice inobtrusive hint – crates with remote control bombs nearby, hinting that you can use such bomb to get through.
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251509352079

    The objective here is to launch a rocket to help the Lambda team. As we’re getting higher and higher, we will see the rocket from time to time, until we finally get to the control center, where we will launch it. After that, nice music will play, which shows feel of relief.

    Eerie night is a great contrast with gray railroad architecture. New enemy, hidden sniper, is introduced here.
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/emoleveldesigner/screenshot/594722251508215556

    Playtime: 56 minutes.

    1. Unq

      There’s an easter egg: if you break the ventilation grate under this staircase,
      you will get under the floor, there’s a writing on the wall which says “RILLER”
      I don’t know what it means.

      It must be from Dave Riller, one of the level designers (aka driller). I never saw that before, nice find.

      1. Indeed nice find Emo, I did knew the secret below the steps with a headrab and a battery, but never noticed “Riller” on the wall, maybe because it’s only a relief in the same color as the wall texture.
        Reminded me of “levelord” in “Duke Nukem 3D” 🙂

  3. William

    Playtime: 49 minutes

  4. Probably the most dullest chapter in the game. Never enjoyed this one except for the rocket at the very end. :/

  5. TWIN SUNS

    Wow I had forgotten just how long this chapter was. I often found myself exploring most areas on foot before going back to the tram, as riding the tram around and around can be very time consuming. But at the same time it was quite easy for me to get lost.

    There are some stupidly difficult parts in this chapter, mainly the mounted guns and rocket turrets. I was playing on normal and I can only imagine what these sequences would be like on higher difficulties.

    I remember in past play-throughs that I found myself dying a lot in the sequences where you get shot at while riding the tram elevators up. I realised on this play-though that you can run ahead of the tram and kill every marine beforehand, which was a nice alternative.

    “Yore dead, Freeman!”

    Playtime: 70 minutes

  6. On a Rail is the chapter I hate most, because it’s very boring. It can be fun if you visit every place, because then there is some shooting, but then it’s so slow you get tired of it. I usually don’t use the tram, but during this playthrough I didn’t want to be careful about stepping on the rail too much, so I used it at the only place where it’s not that much time consuming. as soon as it stopped, I didn’t bother make the challenge to restart it, I just went on foot. I’m happy I didn’t die because I really expected 1-2 deaths during on a rail. I guess I improved my skill without even noticing 😀

    as I said before, the rocket at the end is NOT the same as the one you see during inbounds.

    the only tram in the whole game that I like is the one you take to apprehension at the end, because this one’s fast.

    Five Words Or Less Review
    Boring stupid long not fun

    Playtime: 5 minutes 55 seconds 333 milliseconds

  7. “On a Rail” is a fascinatingly long exploration combat level. Driving the train and being able to walk about on it were modern gamming miracles to me on my original play, being able to duck (very important!) and fire to. Amazing stuff for 1998!
    I died so many times that it is not worth mentioning, oh I just did, well lets just say it gave me extra chances to get my combat sorted.
    I had major problems with the open storage area at the silo rail entrance, combat wise. It took me a few days to get my strategy right, playing on and off, before I barley survived my last encounter. Even my recent replay was a task as I made all my old mistakes anew!
    Thought the missile battery head on was going a tad too far for a beginner like me but I got through, eventually.
    I breezed through on my replay, well not quite, and got the missile launched. I was expecting to face the Gargantua again here to climb up the rocket gantry, but I suspect that was a mod memory.
    The replay gave me so much time to explore the various kit stores, alternate routes and the rail system that it took a few hours to get through as I experimented.
    This level had a nice simplistic graphical feel, but looked good and had some nice lighting touches and a myriad of interesting little scenes off-rail!
    Rather too heavy combat wise here even for my “Easy” level playing style.
    Oh, a couple of extra polygons on the globe in the nicely green rocket room would have been nice and a less over-the-top explosive door lock appreciated!

    5 Words or Less Review: Ono Mono Rail off Course!

  8. Ade

    An extra challenge would be to not trip any turret lasers.
    I remember this quite well, I spent an enormous amount of hours getting lost here, it was the most intricate back tracking I’ve ever played til that day. I even remember drawing the layout on paper to make it easier to get around.
    I didn’t get bored, like many others,tho; just frustrated. I love any means of transport in games, just gimme a rail and I’ll ride it!
    Found some holes in maps too:
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/76561198026515648/screenshot/920107886177845657
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/76561198026515648/screenshot/920107886177842974
    But level design was actually ok for me, for instance a lot of small areas had detailed ceilings and light fixtures.
    I once bugged the platform that went up at the same time as 2 grunts on another platform. I let it go up by itself and climbed the ladders only to find out that the platform was still down there. No level change in between so it was quite odd. On my 2nd try the platform was up like it was supposed to.
    Only thing that felt weird in this chapter was the single push button to launch a rocket. I mean that would require an entire sequence of things to be set up, buttons to be armed and ready to push and why not a countdown also.. The way they did it was so dry, don’t you think?

    Playtime: 1 hr and 9 minutes 🙂

    Five words or less Review: Love dem satchels!

  9. Vic

    Oh, boy. Where do I start with “On A Rail”?

    Let me begin with some narrative background and exposition: We are now on our merry way through the Sector E Materials Transport line. This is a decommissioned rail system that dates from Black Mesa’s days as a military ICBM launch facility. As we can see, it’s definitely fallen into disrepair – parts of it are flooded, and some circuitry has broken down, producing electrical hazards.

    But there are signs that this old freight line is still being used these days. There’s a modern high-speed Black Mesa train right at the end, with an orange Black Mesa logo printed right on its side. There’s also the automated cargo transport system we pass through near the end, with the giant boxes of god-knows-what that Gordon is forced to duck under – and those boxes have got to be going somewhere. In addition, this area appears to be an actual part of the Black Mesa structure – it’s qualified as part of Sector E.

    We also come across a few security guards (I can’t imagine what their shifts must be like down there, all alone), and there’s also the launch facility right at one end of the rail tracks, where the Black Mesa science personnel maintain and augment the Black Mesa satellite portal array.

    In fact, the “Satellite Rocket Loading Bay” they are using to launch these rockets looks to be quite different from the silos we saw in “Blast Pit”. This silo (apparently known as “Silo E”) must have been completely redesigned after Black Mesa bought the entire ICBM complex. And this silo is right in the middle of the dilapidated rail system. So this place is definitely still being actively used, in some capacity.

    The entire rail system is, by now, infested with countless Xenian creatures, as well as a sizeable contingent of government troops, who are hell-bent on stopping us from reaching our destination: the High-Altitude Launch Center. They’ve settled in nicely, blocking quite a few cargo tunnels with sandbags, placing tripmines, defense turrets, sniper emplacements, and they’ve even gotten a few portable missile launchers in the tunnels. They don’t make good use of them, though.

    By this point, the military knows our exact identity, as well as our whereabouts during the Resonance Cascade. They are almost certainly actively tracking us through the complex – in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if their pursuit of Gordon was what lead them to the satellite launch center, where they massacred the entire launch staff.

    We also start to see that Freeman has become a priority target for the military. According to the military announcement system, he is labelled “the renegade“, and all military personnel are authorized to shoot him on sight, and “prosecute with extreme force”. Some of the soldiers even believe he might have been a saboteur who purposely caused the Resonance Cascade.

    But most of the troops all hate Gordon with a passion, as we can see from several graffiti messages they’ve left for him: “YORE DEAD FREEMAN”; “SURRENDER FREEMAN”; “DIE, FREEMEN”, and so on. These also serve to show us that the soldiers are nothing more than infantry grunts – they’re not very bright.

    There is, however, a point in “On A Rail”, when we notice that the situation isn’t quite as black-and-white as we previously thought. It’s when we first enter the Launch Center, and we overhear a short conversation between an officer, and a shotgun trooper:

    “I didn’t sign on for this shit. Monsters, sure, but civilians?! Who ordered this operation anyway?”

    Combined with other conversations we’ve overheard, and the graffiti in the tunnels, it does pretty clearly imply that these soldiers are not exactly spec-ops commandos. They could just as well be ordinary U.S. Army soldiers, which makes this whole situation even muddier than it already was.

    But let’s turn to “On A Rail” itself. In actuality, it serves to be a prototypical Half-Life vehicle sequence – and as a forerunner to the likes of “Water Hazard”, “Highway 17” and “Riding Shotgun”, we can clearly see that it’s a pretty important part of that organic evolution.

    Still, there are certain aspects of “On A Rail” that Valve didn’t entirely learn from, when they next tackled Half-Life 2’s vehicle scenes. Mistakes that were only rectified later on, within HL2: Episode Two.

    The biggest problem with this chapter is the obscene length, and this is something that carried on into HL2’s “Water Hazard”. And the biggest factor that contributes to the length of “On A Rail” is the inherent problems with the levels that it consists of. The layouts are overly complicated, and much too convoluted. There’s also those cursed track indicators that you have to shoot for the tram to change tracks; or the tripmines that instantly kill you, unless you shoot them, in which case they still damage you. Obstacles everywhere, trying to slow you down, and trying to add more length to a chapter that already has plenty of it.

    Much of this chapter is filler, and there’s so much of it that it honestly feels like Gordon was in those tunnels for months. There’s so much here that could have been trimmed out to make the chapter simpler and shorter. This is something that the Black Mesa: Source developers are apparently doing with their re-imagined rendition of OAR, and hopefully it works out for them – because we’ll be the ones who will suffer through it, if it doesn’t work out.

    But the other problem with “On A Rail” would have to be the monotonous, repetitive, mundane, and nigh-tedious environments. I thought “Power Up” was bad. Then I noticed that OAR uses the exact same bland concrete walls… everywhere. It hardly ever changes

    Still, the combat that we do get involved in is pretty fun, especially with the military. I like the bits where we find ourselves in the large freight elevators that lift the train up, while government soldiers positioned on multiple floors try to shoot us up. Those require us to think on our feet in ways we haven’t done so previously.

    However, stand-offs with the military’s stationary heavy machinegun installations (the ones with the double barrels) are unbelievably frustrating and irritating, particularly since explosives are in such short supply all throughout this chapter.

    Still, despite its annoying length, “On A Rail” is a fairly enjoyable and competent sequence in the overall Half-Life game. And its legacy carries on in Half-Life 2’s signature vehicle sequences, and has even carried forward into other games, like the vehicle shoot-em-up “Renegade Ops”, where Gordon Freeman makes a cameo, driving his Muscle Car into the heat of battle.

    If that game’s devs knew what they were doing, they’d have had Gordon drive the “On A Rail” tram. Because he can shoot anything out of that thing.

    Five Words Or Less: More isn’t always better. (Oddly enough, I’d imagine this might also apply to this very comment.)

    Play time: 51 minutes

    1. Vic, it was a great pleasure for me to read your comment about this level!
      Yes, it was long and complicated, but it adds to the big size of this Black Mesa Complex.
      And it was a satisfaction for me, when I reached the surface after that tunnels.
      Thank You!

      1. Vic

        Hey, thank you for reading!

        Oh yeah, it’s definitely quite representative of the sheer scale of the entire complex. The place is absolutely huge.

  10. Unq

    I’m with rikersbeard on this – I quite like On A Rail and think it’s a nifty mix of exploration, intense combat, and methodical progression. Many people think it’s too slow but I really like how you can ultimately set your own pace through this chapter. You don’t have to use the trains and you don’t have to stray off the main path.

    This chapter is chock full of details and nice touches, many of which will be missed if you stay on the rails. My favorite examples are the retracting bridge over the water pit in the side map where you can see the bottom of the rocket, and the sequence with a soldier that rides the tram next to you if you continue on one of the trams (right before you reach the explosive trap):

    http://imgur.com/yvQzB

    Add to that all of the hidden ammo and health and you have both tangible and intangible rewards for exploring. I actually like taking my time in this chapter and I still seem to find new things when I play through, and trust me I’ve played Half-Life a lot.

    In all, I think On A Rail is akin to HL2’s Water Hazard and Highway 17, both of which I also really enjoy for the exploration available, and the opportunity to set your own pace for the most part.

    Mapper’s Corner: This whole chapter actually includes quite complicated entity setups. A player-controlled tram by itself is not trivial – throw in branching paths and rotating tram elevators and you’re definitely in advanced mapping territory. I’ll take a look at the first branch you have to take, the one with the manual switch and the cargo claw blocking your path:

    http://imgur.com/7okTN

    – First, our tram is a func_tracktrain (which turns to face its next path_track, unlike a func_train which does not typically turn). The construction of the track itself does not matter to where the tram goes – the tram simply follows path_tracks which are not visible in-game.

    – The track switch (with arrows on it) is a func_rot_button that is set to be shootable, and to rotate 180 degrees when activated. It targets the path_track that is located right where our track splits. When targetted, the path_track toggles which path_track the tram will go to next, by using the “branch path” setting. Shoot the switch again, and you’ll continue on the straight path instead of turning left.

    – What stops you from progressing is another path_track, not the claw. The claw is simply cosmetic and really has nothing to do with the tram. This path_track is set to be ‘disabled” which means the tram stops when it reaches it.

    – Once you get upstairs and throw the switch, the claw moves out of the way (a func_door in this case), and the dead end path_track is also targetted, which enables it – so the next time you come to it riding the tram, you’ll keep on going instead of stopping.

    Hope that was not too much of a drink from a firehose. It’s a lot to digest but if you are a mapper it’ll hopefully start to give you an appreciation for building a controllable tram.

    Playtime: 45 minutes

    1. Unq

      Oops, forgot to share another one of the musical gems from Half-Life: Drums & Riffs, played right after you launch the rocket in this chapter. Groovy.

      http://youtu.be/4tYC8PoGkZQ

  11. “..oh yeah, you’ll pay! You’ll definitely pay!”

    Whoa! Probably (?) the longest chapter, it even could be two chapters compared to some other, very short chapters of HL.
    However, I have a mixed feeling about it, it CAN be very interesting but also very boring at some points. Maybe due to it’s length when replaying for such project like TREE.

    What I don’t like is the too much tram riding, it’s nice at first but after some time there’s another tram, and another one…
    The design isn’t that good most of the time, always the same wall textures in the tunnels and there are many, many design oddities including silly and ridiculous enemy placements or scripts.

    It was a relief to get the surface at night again, the rocket launch area is by far the best designed here, unfortunately it’s very short. I want more outdoor areas like that!
    At least there are some puzzles and many paths leading to goodies so you’ll need lot of time for exploring, it’s also cool this offers the way of tactical combat – from which direction you wanna rush in? YOU decide!
    But it’s not possible everywhere, at least at some spots it’s fun to advance in your very own way.
    Riding the tram is nice as I mentioned, I did stop at every new “station” and cleaned around by foot as I always did there. Sometimes just leaving the tram behind and proceeded only by foot.

    Combat is very tough here if don’t act carfully enough. Yes, I died a few times because my strategies weren’t that good, mostly cause of low health.
    There are a lot of areas which have high voltage if you want so.
    Even the hanging cable in the tunnel killed me once cause of 5 health. 😀
    Whatever, lighting is pretty cool here but as mentioned above the textures are usually boring, especially in the tram tunnels.

    All in all I can’t say I like this chapter, altho it has some unique moments and pretty nice ideas (tram, some scripts, rocket launch)

    Challenges:

    – Find all 3 HEV wall chargers in this chapter. – Yup
    – Find the secret area with the 3 batteries. – Yes
    – Kill the soldier before he can press the plunger that detonates the explosives. – Alright
    – Ride on the rocket for a few seconds. – Done the first time 😉 88 –> 73 health

    5 words or less review: Don’t be too cute – electroCUTE! 😉

    Playtime: 38 minutes (exploring everywhere again, except some small underwater areas)

  12. Most of the real world’s tram (or metro) tunnels ARE boring (except the stations maybe), so for me the textures are OK in this chapter (and it’s abandoned, more or less!)

  13. I did this the same way I did it the fist time: stuck to the tram as much as possible, and used the control pod as a shield–that was MOST helpful, as well as my usual “ninja-sneak-around-the-corner-and-kill-them-all” strategy.

    The level is LLLOOONNNGG, but it services a purpose too: to make you relax too much as you’re pulling into another ambush or explosive area, and then die. The “decor” stinks, too: but whaddyawant for an old government installation?? Absolute textbook military-complex architecture, complete with bizarrely-placed rooms, dead-ends, and cargo hooks without a purpose.

    The gun placements within the sandbag bunkers were a bitch to deal with, tho. The first one I had to sneak-sneak-sneak while keeping out of firing line, get hit a few times, kill all the grunts, then toss a grenade–oh, snap: I was out of them!! I had to sneak out again in order to live, and I couldn’t use the health-station “cuz it was in the firing line!! :argh!: The second time thru, I made sure I had at least one grenade to toss in there. The next gun bunker, I had plenty of AR grenades, so that was an easy kill.

    The rockets were as much a surprise today as they were in 2001 or so: HOLY FVKKING AZZCRACKERS!!! Blown up the first time without much preamble; the next run thru I was crouched down and shooting the operator between rocket shots (one-two, then reload pause; rinse, repeat), with either the magnum (easiest long shot) or AR grenade (had to get closer & a bit lucky).

    The rest was relatively easy, despite the sniper–that bastard gets me EVERY EFFING TIME!! You have no clue where it’s coming from, unless you get lucky enough to see the muzzle flash from inside the hide (dangit, where do I get that weapon!?!?). Once figured out, it’s a simple kill.

    I’ve never ridden the rocket–never knew it was possible ’til today, when I read about it here. Never knew it was possible. I just hit the button, watched the launch, got the fvkk out & into the next area.

    Heck, I didn’t know about the underwater areas, or ever found the Easter egg. And I thought I explored it ALL back in the day. I guess I’m not as good, or thorough, as I thought.

    Audio: the game improves immensely on headphones (I’m using wireless units so I don’t keep the wife up when I’m playing), but in all these years, I have NEVER understood what the blackops are saying, even to this day. Back then, it was darn near impossible; today, it SHOULD be much improved, but for some reason the audio in general is far worse, the balances are way off, making some sounds too loud, and others too soft, with too few where they belong. I’ve tried setting the game to “2 speakers” or “headphones”, but that just completely jacks the sound up, and I get either damn near nothing, or just a whisper, until I reset it to “5.1 speakers”, and it comes back to normal. Please note that I’m piping my video through to my TV (58″ Samsung plasma–oooohhhh, the quality is almost orgasmic!!), along with the sound into the “audio in” jacks on the set; the headset is a Logitech F540 wireless, audio out from TV to PC RCA jacks on the transmitter unit. That alone might have something to do with the audio issues on Source. I haven’t tested it with HL2 yet.

    So, overall: long, boring, unremittingly dull fun. Just like a good government military installation should be.

  14. I was really surprised by how much fun I had playing this chapter and how it didn’t feel too long at all, despite what I’ve heard before. I like it.
    Playtime: 45-ish minutes, I think?

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