In this chapter, Gordon arrives at the Lambda Complex, where he believed the science team to be sheltering from the Xenians, only to find that the majority of the complex is now overrun by hostile creatures. He is informed that he must flood the reactor chambers in order to access the core, and that a team of scientists is waiting for him at the tip of the reactor.
Gordon must then navigate through the Lambda Core, facing numerous assaults from the Xen forces (the primary enemy, now that the HECU has pulled out). In the end, he learns that a single large entity is hosting the invasion, and that he must teleport to Xen to stop it.
After much struggle, Gordon finally reaches the Lambda Complex, where he discovers that the Lambda Complex is where they developed the teleportation technology that allowed scientists to travel to Xen in the first place. The handful of surviving personnel, who have held themselves up in a small stronghold, inform Gordon that, unfortunately, the satellite he launched was not able to reverse the effects of the Resonance Cascade because an immensely powerful being on the other side is keeping the portal between the worlds open, and Gordon must kill it to prevent the Xen aliens from taking over completely.
But before being teleported to Xen, Gordon gains access to several ammunition, health and HEV-charge caches, the Gluon Gun, and he is finally reunited with the Long Jump Module (not seen since the Hazard Course). After an attempted interception by Alien Controllers, the scientists activate the teleporter and Gordon is teleported to Xen.
- The scene near the end of the chapter with the scientist holding the shotgun was mirrored near the end of the Half-Life 2 chapter Entanglement, where Dr. Kleiner was holding a Shotgun as Alyx and Gordon arrived in the teleporter.
- The Gluon Gun can be found earlier in the level guarded by a lonely scientist.
- The old level name featured on Half-Life: Day One, given in the “titles.txt” file was: Down and out.
The challenges below have been set by 2muchvideogames
- Kill an alien grunt with explosive barrels or boxes.
- Kill 3 alien grunts and 3 headcrabs with Steam.
- Find 5 supply shelves.
- Get up to the balcony next to the portal-opening scientist.
MEDIUM: 40 Health 0 HEV [157KB]
HARD: I need a HARD save for this level. Do you have one? Please send it to me.
Click on the thumbnails below to open a 1024 pixel wide image.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.
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.
All text taken from the CombineOverWiki, a fan-supported, editable wiki covering the Half-Life series of games.
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)
You can purchase Half-Life directly through Steam and could be playing in within moments, depending on your internet connection.
Beautiful architecture and design. Just looking at the screenshots reminds me how much colour was used. A variety of gameplay styles, including the final: Defend the scientist. WHich unfortuantely didn’t last long.
One thing you can say for Half-Life, Valve never overused any one particular design choice.
A combination of fighting and jumping. I feel I missed out by playing it in various sitting. I might have to go back and play this from the beginning.
Yep, stepping into that Portal.
I played this in a number of sitting and didn’t really pay much attention, sorry.
YEs, and probably 5 times each. I got lost so many times.
– Kill an alien grunt with explosive barrels or boxes.
– Kill 3 alien grunts and 3 headcrabs with Steam.
– Find 5 supply shelves.
– Get up to the balcony next to the portal-opening scientist.
I think I hate portals!
Not sure, I’ll add tem minutes to William’s time.
More than I can remember!
Behind the doors there is a gray room with big elevator and a truck on it. The elevator is the same as in Unforseen Consequences, but, thankfully, there are less headcrabs and they don’t fall from above, because I had only 4% of health.
I heard the sound of button that I pressed, and it gave me some time to get to the lift before it starts moving. Below there is some generic gray storage room with various crates and headcrabs. With caution, I got through this room and found a medkit, which I needed.
Later, there’s another storage room, this one’s bigger. There are ninjas running around it, but they always appeared in front of me, and never tried to flank, which helped greatly. But it wasn’t that easy, because one of them was hiding on the bridge, and was shooting at me from there. I found this ninja only when I got to that bridge, before I couldn’t understand where the shots are coming from.
Last gray room offers fight with Alien Grunts, and when they are all dead, the scientist opens the door, and we see these stylish walls covered with metal plates. Nearby there is a weapon test area, where we can get powerful beam weapon.
The elevator takes us to the place where we need to turn on the coolant system. The paths are colored blue and orange, and back then who could have thought that many years after Valve will use the same colors for Portals in their Portal game series.
The tasks are “go there and turn the pump on”, but there is enough variety to keep us from getting bored. There are a lot of Alien Grunts, so it will be hard to get through them.
But there is a flaw that I didn’t expect to encounter in a game made by Valve: look at these lights, they magically hang in the air!
Same place in original Half-Life:
After turning on the pumps, we can use water to get to higher areas. Jumping around, trying to avoid the beams from working reactor.
This is where the chapter gets the most atmospheric and interesting. The walls on each level are nicely colored to represent the current floor, and the teleportation laboratories are inspiring. There is, once again, interesting exploration which is rewarded by supplies, but now with teleporters.
After we get through both platforming sections, we find ourselves in front of the distinctive doors with lambda sign above them.
The scientist tells us that there is some powerful being which keeps the dimensional breach open, and the only way to stop the alien invasion is to kill that being.
“Hello, Freeman, I’m up here. Practice your long jump if you must, but hurry up!” – this is the first phrase said by Half-Life Scientist’s voice that I’ve ever heard, because for some reason in Russian version of the game, this audio file was not replaced.
For years it remained the only his phrase that I heard, until I got Half-Life: Source, which came with Half-Life 2, and had English voices.
Then we proceed to stunning ending of this chapter, where the scientist opens the portal for us, and we protect him from another new enemy, alien controller.
Playtime: 51 minutes
Lambda Core is such an awesome chapter, one of the best in the game. it’s probably the chapter with the most possible alternative paths and/or secret locations. It’s also one of the chapters with the most ammo, but most of it isn’t present on the straightforward path. We start up with a descending platform, much like the unforeseen consequences one, except for the fact that there is a car on it.
We reach the bottom, and see many aliens, showing that we are not yet in a place of the facility that’s secure, since we got promised a secure lambda complex since the beginning. then we find a room with some black ops, that don’t seem to look for an escape, and this is the first hint that the black ops are not in team with the grunts, or they would have pulled out (or tried).
This is also an hint that they may not be emplyed by the government, or even human themselves, maybe they are hired by gman or something. I won’t go deep in my theory about the whole game because that’s not the point here, just PM me if you want to hear it. Anyway there are female assassins in this room, and many crates. then we reach some kind of inside parking, a grunt opens the door in front of us showing us they are really strong (in case we didn’t let the questionable ethics one break the unbreakable glass by himself).
When we kill them all, a scientist opens a door, assuring us that all the other entrances have been sealed off to contain the invasion. We get a fake hope, about a clean complex without aliens. He also tells us that they took straws and that he lost. Ironically, about 30 seconds later we encounter another scientist that stayed here because he was working on an experimental weapon, the gluon gun.
Then we take an elevator, and see a dead scientist and tons of blood, clearly showing us the containment failed. we encounter many aliens very quickly, and some of them are also speaking. a barney, a scientist that explains our goal, then we go on to start both generators. then we swim a little, and using both generator we can bring the water up and reach the ladder. we climb up, and clearly see the equipment is broken from the electric bolts leaking out. we then move around, see some supply rooms.
Many aliens teleport in, and we encounter gman for the last time before the outro. it’s been a long time, and this sighting is pretty hard to see. then some teleporting puzzle, and then we finally reach kleiner and get in the final room. A pretty long protecting sequence, then we teleport to Xen.
We see him once, he steps in a portal. When we reach that portal during the portal puzzles (it’s not needed to continue, some may not have seen it), it gets us back in the puzzle, making us wonder where the hell he went. I used a trick to see him up close, by shooting it (with crossbow here, but everything that does no splash will work) a few times, he doesn’t despawn (because yes, he doesn’t teleport he despawns). then I can see him up close later.
Zoom on him:
Up close with Zoom:
Yes, before you ask it, I died once. I didn’t time correctly the hivehand skip for the final teleporter, and died. That brings my total death count to 4.
Five words or less review:
Teleporters, aliens, fake hopes [and] guns
6 minutes 49 seconds
Soooo… What’s your theory? 😉
Hey, that last bit with the transporter: what did you do, and did it actually work to transport you out?
Actually, the teleporter is always on, and perfectly functional. The thing is, to prevent us from entering it early, there is a field around it that deals a shit ton of damage to everything it touches. When the scientist is done “opening the portal”, this damage field disappears and the actual portal gets a non-transparent model so we can see it.
But, as every thing in this game, the damage field can’t deal damage twice in a single frame. This means that if I get through it during same frame as another entity, and the entity touches it first, it will take all the damage and I will take none. As that field is directly touching the portal (no space in between), surviving it for one frame is enough to touch the portal and get teleported.
This means that with good timing, using a monster, ally, snark or hivehand bullet, it is possible (and even pretty easy with low fps) to teleport right away and skip the entire portal opening sequence. Yes, the hivehand bullets are living entities, with a very limited lifespan and terrible pathfinding.
Also, sorry for the delay 😉
A pretty climactic chapter. Rightfully so, since it will be the last chapter you spend on Earth. This chapter pretty much throws everything at you, starting with assassins, cluttered with gratuitous offerings of slaves and alien grunts, topped by a horde of ambushing controllers, at their debut. Not only that, there is also a fair amount of puzzles as well, from dodging the energy bolts of the core to the “Port 7 jumping puzzle”. Along with that, this map has a hub-style portal chamber that we must traverse to figure out the true path to the tip of the core. Quite challenging to navigate.
In the videos I have gotten most of the challenges, except the supply one. Of course, they are pretty easy to find if you enter the other portals. I died about 3 times on the “Port 7 jumping puzzle” since I was trying to rush it. Patience, I need.
these are great to watch.
In Lambda Core unfortunately our romp through the Black Mesa Research Facility comes to a close, at least until we get to play Uplink or Opposing Force. Thankfully we mostly go out with an enjoyable bang, although some of the gameplay in this chapter is just not up to snuff with the last few chapters we’ve just played.
I think the mapping and design of the Lambda Complex is superb. We’re clearly in a relatively new, high tech lab area. The textures are clean and the lighting is bright – but the use of color is excellent in these maps. Many of the lab walls are brightly color-coded, and a lot of the lighting (particularly in the main reactor core) is colorful but not gaudy. In all it makes for a gorgeous (for Goldsource) set of maps that leaves us with a great lasting impression of Black Mesa until we return in another game. The color-coding is also quite functional, in that it helps us separate the areas (like the pump control areas 1 & 2) – but especially so in the color-coding of teleporter entrances (orange) and exits (green).
For me it’s really the layout of the maps that I like the most in this chapter. There are a lot of areas where you can either see where you’re going, or where you’ve been and that not only helps the player along but it helps tie all the areas together as well. There are also a ton of out-of-the-way spots that are usually caches of health and armor – it was a must for me to visit these while playing on Hard.
I think the main weakness of Lambda Core is the gameplay in the core itself. Beforehand you get the battle with the assassins, and the task of flooding the reactor so you can proceed. Many of these areas are a nice mix of combat and seeking your goal. Unfortunately, once you reach the core with all the portals, the gameplay shifts toward platform jumping and from here to the end of the game it slants in that direction. It’s not the timed jumping that bothers me, it’s the trial-and-error required to progress forward in the game. The one good aspect is as I mentioned above, you’re typically rewarded for going out of your way in this chapter. I think a better mechanic lies in the final portal chamber sequence – at least there it’s not trial-and-error, it’s mostly skill as you have to defend the scientist and yourself as the portal charges up.
Which reminds me, we’re treated to yet another atmospheric track from Kelly Bailey as this final sequence starts: Steam in the Pipes:
Overall, this is a nice way to wrap up Black Mesa in this game. The intrigue thickens quite a bit with the knowledge that the Black Mesa guys have been working on teleportation and have been visiting Xen for some time. It’s a memorable chapter certainly, although in my opinion could have been polished gameplay-wise a bit to improve the experience.
Mapper’s Corner: One of the busiest areas in the whole game is Level C of the reactor core. It’s pretty much a pure jumping & button puzzle. Good timing is definitely required and I remember this part being really challenging as a newbie.
There looks to be a lot going on but mapping-wise this whole chamber is very straightforward. As shown below, we only have a func_rotating going clockwise and another func_rotating going counterclockwise. Each one is made up of several blocks but each set is a single entity. The walkway moving up and down is a simple func_train moving between 2 points. The path to the exit to the level (not labeled, it’d be a trigger_changelevel) is blocked by 2 func_doors (01 and 02), which are triggered by pressing the buttons on the outer wall (func_buttons). To make this a real challenge there is radioactive goo below you, composed of a func_water and a trigger_hurt to make sure you die if you fall in.
In all, it might be a complex-looking room but it’s actually quite basic in terms of entity setup. So, here’s a diagram:
Playtime: 34 minutes
Lambda Core (“Lambda-Kern”)
“…you don’t look as if you’ve any trouble killing things.”
One of those “I-frigging-hate-it!”-chapters hehe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that bad or ugly.
It’s just..well, playing on hard can be frustrating here if you know what I mean…
At first I tried to slide down the elevator shaft without taking (too much) damage, I know it’s possible but I failed the first times, then it worked finally.. the elevator is sooo slow, even the time it takes from hitting the button until it finally moves.
As soon as I saw the warehouse section again it suddenly made “click” in my head and I knew what awaits (and that I’ll die several times here, what I did – just as “planned!” 😛 )
A few minutes later I was surprised – about my own surprise!
I simply forgot that, in the small corridor with the flameable barrels, an alien grunt will open the hangar doors for you! I winced for a second and needed to smile afterwards.
How could this happen?? After playing HL the uhmmm.. 20th time??? PRICELESS!
It even happened again as the footbridge broke under me in Coolant Tank 02 room.
Totally unprepared for this! So I fell down with the spawning alien grunt and was in a misery once again! Most excellent! I love such scripts!
Design and lighting is quite nice here but it’s a pity that it’s, of course, indoors only.
The few music / ambient tracks are pretty cool but too rare for my taste, what a pity!
Worst parts of this map is the final large teleporter dome, it took me three times this time that the scientist wasn’t killed by the alien controllers. Or was he alive at all at the last time?
However, as soon as the portal seemed workable to me I did jump inside to Xen.
It can be frustrating to save the poor scientist, especially on hard.
I was wasting lot of Magnum and crossbow ammo for him as I just don’t wanna use Gauss / Gluon ammo here…
By the way Gluon gun, it’s available and introduced here the very first time but in my eyes there’s no need for it as the Gauss is better in my humble opinion…
The ports in the port tower room are fun if you decide to check every single option.
There are some, more or less secret, secret areas in that chapter. All contain goodies and / or health and ammo but the tip of the iceberg are the two supply rooms when you get the longjump module.
Plenty of ammo and weapons await here, also recharge possibilities.
In conclusion I must say that some parts of the “Lambda Core” are great and some are just boring or annoying. So the mix of that makes it decent but not great, mixed feeling when playing it every time…
Poll: Voted yes, for the TREE event I try to move everywhere again, trying out anything interactive and find as much as goodies as possible.
Bugs: If you activate the two handles under water in the aux tank too quick the water level will rise only one level. Couldn’t fix that without reloading or noclipping.
Gman sightings: He’s here once, entering a portal.
Deaths: Lots (assassins, Pump Station 01, …)
-Kill an alien grunt with explosive barrels or boxes. – Nope
-Kill 3 alien grunts and 3 headcrabs with Steam. – Just 1 slave but 3 headcrabs
-Find 5 supply shelves. – Yes
-Get up to the balcony next to the portal-opening scientist. – Yes
5 words or less review: Hooray, the longjump module – NOT!
Playtime: 33 minutes
This is the chapter that was most confusing for me back in the day, but today I had no trouble finding the right path through the portals on my 2nd random try.
– Kill an alien grunt with explosive barrels or boxes. YES
– Kill 3 alien grunts and 3 headcrabs with Steam. NO 🙁 I killed 3 alien grunts, 1 slave and 1 headcrab out of 2 in an area..
– Find 5 supply shelves. NO since I didn’t (have to) go through all the portals
– Get up to the balcony next to the portal-opening scientist. NO but I tried 🙁
Playtime: 54 minutes (I died a lot)
Arg how did I miss posting this?
I vividly remember the coloured pipes in this chapter, what I don’t remember is the tough Alien Grunts being here.
The teleport ” maze” isn’t terribly difficult to do but the ones that deposit you in mid-air can be tricky to do. Also the very last teleporter that takes you to the very beginning must be a source of frustration for some players, long live quick-save! 😀
Playtime: 46 minutes
We finally breach the Lambda Complex. After building up to it for so long, we are here! Valve does not offer us a very impressive reception: just a large freight elevator carrying a solitary U.S. Army M35 truck.
We descend, to discover that there have been some Xenian infestation throughout these parts. Not a good sign, but nothing Gordon can’t fix with a swing of his crowbar and a blast from his shotgun.
As we delve deeper into the complex, we discover that the nimble spec-ops femme fatales have infiltrated the Hazardous Materials Bay. The way they entered remains unknown, but I suppose it could have been the Army truck (let’s not forget that HL1 on its own never implicates that the spec-ops assassins and the government soldiers were on opposing factions).
Still, what exactly were they doing here? While we do still see government forces engaged in combat in Forget About Freeman, after the withdrawal order has been transmitted, seeing government assassins so far underground is rather peculiar. Could they be doing reconaissance? Could they be on their way out anyway? Or could they be out to stop Gordon from reaching the Lambda Complex?
Let’s not forget that to the military, Gordon is a well-trained sabotage agent who was at ground zero of the Incident, yet survived, and has been sailing smoothly throughout the facility ever since. In fact, the Announcement System even calls him “the renegade”. And if he’s on his way to the most important part of the facility, then the government probably wants to do whatever it can to stop him while there’s still time.
Still, I’m just glad this is the second and last time we have to fight these ladies, because I don’t think it’s that enjoyable at all. However, we dispatch the assassins with great dispatch, and continue on our merry way.
After a run-in with a couple of Alien Grunts, we are admitted into the Lambda Complex. Apparently, this is the last entrance in, and all others have been sealed off to contain alien incursions. It’s not looking good so far, but who’s Gordon to complain?
We also get acquainted with a brand new weapon: the Gluon Cannon, a fearsome energy weapon capable of annihilating gluons: the particles which hold atomic nuclei together. That means this thing can completely destabilize organic matter at a sub-atomic level, which is kind of a big deal. In the game’s files, it is referred to as the “Egon”, named after Dr. Egon Spengler, a scientist character from Ghostbusters, the creator of the Proton Pack, which the Gluon gun was based off of.
Armed with this awesome new weapon, we proceed through the high-tech Lambda Complex. Much of it has been abandoned, and infested by alien forces, which is not very good at all. Combat in these areas is a bit bland, and the repetitive level design doesn’t offer much in the way of variety. Still, it does look great, and the color-coding is quite nice.
Our new errand is to activate both coolant pumps in order to flood the reactor’s core, allowing us to float up to the higher levels. The biggest problem here is that it seems there’s no way for scientists and guards to actually get up there without having to flood the core, which doesn’t seem like a very safe procedure.
The errand in itself simply has us pressing two buttons. I would have liked a more interesting approach, something which would have stimulated the player a lot more. Still, beggars can’t be choosers.
We reach the reactor, and make our way up. The core emits some dangerous streams of electricity which can be lethal – the reactor must either be damaged or extremely overworked.
With the bland combat behind us, we reach a new section of the complex: the teleportation labs. This is where we discover that Black Mesa had had reliable teleport tech all along – quite a revelation. The teleports are pretty reliable and they don’t seem to be dangerous, which is interesting.
The teleportation labs, however, make for the worst kind of gameplay I’ve ever seen in HL1 thus far. This… teleport-hopping is so annoying, so time-consuming, so frustrating and so out-of-place that it just drags down the entire chapter. To make matters worse, the portals are nothing more than opaque sprites – unlike Prey (the Prey of 1998, that is), you can’t actually see where these portals even lead, which makes it even more irritating.
But you get through alright, and proceed further on to the final level of the Lambda Complex, onto one of the borderworld survey team depots. You arm yourself with more ammo than you’ve ever encountered, and get briefed on what to expect from the “world beyond”: some sort of entity is holding the portal rift open by actively manipulating the continuum. Scary stuff, and according to Barney, if we don’t kill it: “there might not be much for you to come home to”. This does a good job of setting the stage and mood for our climactic voyage to Xen.
We’re also introduced to the Long Jump Module, a very handy device allowing us to perform some staggering jumps with just two button-presses. It’s a great little mechanic, with tremendous ease of use and simplicity. It will come in very handy on Xen, although I wish Valve would have made it available earlier in the game, so that we can get accustomed to it without the pressure and rush that comes at the end of Lambda Core. It might have made Xen play better, too.
Unlike the bland combat and awful portal-hopping from before, this last section of Lambda Core, in which we defend the giant teleporter machine and the scientist manipulating it from an onslaught of Xen Controllers/Masters (our first encounter with these tough buggers), is a lot more enjoyable and pleasantly challenging. Although I don’t like how Valve give you all this ammo just to have you waste some of it by trying to shoot these bastards down – it’s just not right.
The combat can get intense, but slowly the portal comes to life, and before you know it, a gateway has opened to the other world, and we hurriedly run through. A flash of light, then darkness – perhaps accompanied by the scientist’s screams, Barney’s gunshots, and the rumblings of the teleporter. Until the next map loads.
Lambda Core is a good chapter in its own right, with a lot of great potential, but with far too much weight on its shoulders. It has the burden of introducing some new plot elements, a new weapon, a new enemy, and an important new gameplay mechanic, and it also has the task of bridging the part of Half-Life we spend on Earth, with the part we spend on Xen. With so much to tackle, it doesn’t pull everything off in a satisfactory way.
All these elements crammed into its relatively tight, short progression only accentuate Lambda Core’s flaws: illogical and sometimes poor level design; bland combat; and the aforementioned, extremely tedious portal-hopping.
In conclusion, while it represents a pivotal point in the Half-Life progression, and while it does have some enjoyable gameplay sprinkled throughout, Lambda Core is largely a disappointing, perhaps nigh-subpar offering, paving the way for what is one of the Half-Life series” most controversial chapters…
Oops, forgot my playtime: 40 minutes.
And my Five Words Or Less: Flawed, brief, and rather disappointing.