Half-Life: Office Complex

17th June 2012

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

Minutes after the Resonance Cascade, Gordon reaches the office complex, where several scientists are barricaded into their rooms, hiding from the rampant aliens appearing inside the complex.

He then hears rumors from these scientists that the military have arrived to rescue the people trapped in the facility.

  • The Freezer area can be skipped. A security guard can be found prior to the area; if he is taken to the door on the left of the entrance to the freezer and then pushed into it, he will get stuck in it for a while and the door will open, allowing for progress.
The Poll


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WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
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The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment The Replay Experience Experiment
The Replay Experience Experiment

This post is part of the The Replay Experience Experiment summer 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.

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A Complete Half-Life Walkthrough

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  1. This has an interesting start. If you don’t rush out of the elevator nothing happens, but as soon as you do, the scientist gets dragged up through the ceiling and the headcrabs come walking towards you.

    The headcrabs are electrocuted, giving clear warning to the player, “Don’t go this way!”

    The same goes for the two doors on the right, through these you can see two scientists running away and one getting caught by a

    Walking along the wall near the vent you also get an electrical surge designed to stop you trying to progress that way. Of course, I did and I just survived but not on the way back.

    Plenty of crate-breaking and backtracking in this section, along with the first real vent crawling section.

    This level also see the introduction of the first ceiling turret, shown via a simple scientist running into its firing path – silly man!

    I love the section with the extra ammo. It’s clear that Valve wanted the play to know that saving character could bring rewards. I also love the sound effect in that room. Very deep rumbling and thumping – makes the place seem HUGE!

    I managed to get both Barneys together but I am afraid they didn’t last very long. The complex layout (perfect chapter name btw) is not very interesting for me. I probably rushed through it.

    There’s plenty going on though, including one scientist helping another, only to get killed himself.

    I just noticed that there are no female scientists, I wonder why that is. Any ideas?

    WOW, I just found something. Because I play on a laptop, my hand sometimes touches the touchpad, which makes the weapon shoot. It’s generally pretty annoying but this time I shoot at a filing cabinet and it smashed a hole in the side. I never knew they were destroyable. Did you?

    As I am running up the stairs after the main offices, there is a sign on the wall. It’s black and yellow and says WARNING. I start thinking “What’s that warning me about and suddenly I get hit but a ceiling turret. Gotta laugh.

    The moment I get into the freezer and the scientist says “I hear something!” I stopped and listened. I’m so easy to control!

    I have given up worrying about the scientists and leading them around. When I need one, I’ll know it. There’s just too much hassle trying to get them to follow you. It’s probably the only thing I really dislike about Half-Life.

    Finally we reach the large elevator shaft and the hanging/falling scientist. It’s a nice touch, if a little dark.

    Overall, this was not as bad as I remember it and the variety and exploring we pretty cool. I don’t think I missed anything important. A perfect filler level that didn’#t astound me but took me closer to the surface, or so I believe!

    Playtime: 52 minutes

    1. Kaito Kid

      I just noticed that there are no female scientists, I wonder why that is. Any ideas?

      men are way smarter

      Anyway about your poll, you should add the details that there are 4 barneys that you can bring there, and that’s pretty much the place in half-life where you can get the most barneys at a single time.
      barney 1: the one you save from zombie
      barney 2: the one shooting headcrabs upstairs after the first turret
      barney 3: the one near healthkit a little before freezer, the one that can open the door to skip freezer
      barney 4: the one helping his near-death friend, when his friend dies you can make the alive one follow you

  2. Next stop – Office Complex, or “Offices”, as it was called in Russian version of Half-Life.

    We see the atmosphere of decay – beasts break through the ceiling, there are leaks of water and electricity, monsters hide behind corners, ceiling turrets with broken IFF system, doors that can be opened only from other side, so you have to search for a way around. Unlike other HL games and mods, there are a lot of breakable filing cabinets and bookcases. Typical Disaster is the only mod I know where you can also break them. Because, as I said earlier, I liked to break them when testing the maps, and that’s why I bothered to make them breakable.

    By the way, is there a mod for Half-Life which prevents debris from disappearing?

    There’s a nasty deathtrap fan in one of the vents.

    I remember that stacking the boxes and catching the ladder was quite hard for me back in the day.

    It’s funny to watch the headcrabs being killed with electricity thanks to Source’s ragdolls. Shaders make the water very beautiful and realistic:
    The Replay Experience Experiment: Office Complex

    There is some exploration, places waiting to be discovered. Not so secret of them are zombie breaking out from the storage room, barney who you can save to get more shotgun ammo. And more secret is a ventilation which gets you above the ceiling:
    The Replay Experience Experiment: Office Complex

    The Replay Experience Experiment: Office Complex

    There’s a glitch which allows you to jump very high on top of the ladder.

    The rooms with Alien Slaves have excellent layout and intense action.

    The freezer and elevator shaft are cool and memorable scenes.

    Conclusion: in Office Complex we have nice linear path, which, while being linear, offers cool optional “side quests”.

    Playtime: 17 minutes 58.44 seconds

  3. Kaito Kid

    Now office complex. This is my favourite level during the game, because it’s easy to do it fast since there are a lot of small skips, but it’s not completely skippable (like power up for example) so it’s still fun.

    Also the relationship I was building with the aliens is now completely dead, since they attacked me during this level, I had to fight back D:

    First of all, the broken light. It’s clear that the developpers had a teaching in levels act here. I explain, first you see the electricity hanging, showing that it’s broken. the first headcrab blows up almost immediately, to show that it really IS powerful. then if you look a little longer, you see the other headcrabs confirming. also one of them jumps and still blows up, to show that even without touching the ground you’ll get hurt (not realistic….) Also whether you noticed the vent and are aiming for it, or pointlessly try to go through the electricity, you see the lightning bolt explode the ground next to you, to warn you not to go any further behind that point. then there is a corridor filled with boxes, and a barney that you can save in order to get extra ammo and health. This is the first bonus that actually requires you to think and act fast in order to get it. then the room filled with electricity and water, giving you a choice: loose hp to the electricity OR play in the dark. then the vents, and a deadly fan in it. then you fall through the ceiling and some headcrabs do the same. a box puzzle, but I like to use a headcrab instead of the smaller box, to show them i’m superior πŸ˜€

    Then the first auto-turret. you can either shut it off, destroy it or go through qucikly. you next get into some offices, and tons of alien slaves are waiting for you. also some nice bonuses if you’re good enough to find them, and an attempt from valve to teach us something that was probably planned but not implemented: the aliens do not see in the dark. actually it’s pretty obvious the scene with the scientist turining off the light and being quiet teaches us 2 things, but the dark makes no difference at all. the sound does, if you crouch you are actually silent, and ennemies without eyes OR that are turned around can’t detect you. then the freezer, just for fun since it’s not actually cold in it. I always wondered why the fuck would someone place hadngrenades in a freezer. more vent moving.

    then you see a zombie falling from a ramp, and another one breaking a wall, probably to add realism to the game. the elevator shaft, the jump was super hard at first, but with the years it’s gotten so much easier πŸ˜€
    the scientist that you can’t save, but that asks you for help, it’s pretty sad D:

    and then we get to the next level πŸ˜€

    Playtime: 1 minutes 58 seconds 208 milliseconds


    My earliest memory of Half Life comes from this chapter. When I was a kid I remember watching a friend playing through the beginning section of Office Complex, I remember the darkness and the barnacles creeping the hell out of me.

    This time around the chapter didn’t seem as dark as I remember, but the part where a zombie’s claw breaks through a door you’re trying to open defiantly made me jump!

    In relation to this chapter’s poll, somehow it took me three tries to save the Barney that lets you into an ammo cache, but I did manage to lead all of them as far as they were willing.

    One final note is the fact that this is the first time I’ve noticed that Gabe has an office…

    Playtime: 22 minutes

  5. William

    Playtime: 35:29

  6. 2muchvideogames

    Replay 5: OFFICE COMPLEX Challenges:

    – Kill 4 headcrabs using electrified water (hint: you need to flick the switch on and off repeatedly)
    – Gib a zombie with a door.
    – Kill 9 headcrabs with miniturrets.
    – Gain access to D-AL 101.

    1. Unq

      – Gain access to D-AL 101.

      I assume you mean the office with the cache of grenades in it? This chapter has at least 2 other offices with that same number. πŸ™‚

      1. 2muchvideogames

        I was referring to the sort-of dimly lit room near the cafeteria, but were all the offices labeled D-AL 101? Shame on valve! Also, anyone noticed that the area that the G-man walks thru in this chapter is a balcony directly above the cafeteria? Turn off gravity and see for yourself!

  7. Unq

    I think Office Complex is my least favorite chapter in Half-Life, with the only possible exception being Residue Processing. Yes, that even includes On A Rail and the entirety of Xen. As Phillip alluded to in his comment, this chapter is kind of filler material. It does serve some purposes but overall I see it as one of the low points of the game.

    We start to see some more off-the-beaten-path areas in this chapter as well. While Half-Life as a game is very linear, from this point on we start to see a good number of extra areas, and we’re often rewarded – either tangibly (like getting the shotgun early, or finding extra ammo or health) or otherwise, like seeing and hearing scripts that flesh out the intrigue and atmosphere (“I’m not so sure I want to reach the surface, what if the world finds out what we were doing down here?”).

    Office Complex was purposely mapped as a retro, mundane area (indeed, even the texture names for this chapter begin with fifties_) and it ultimately provides nice contrast against both the upcoming high-tech lab areas (Questionable Ethics, Lambda Core) and of course the expansive outdoor areas primarily in Surface Tension. Its mainly claustrophobic feel also contrasts against the large, grand areas of Black Mesa we’ll see in a couple chapters.

    I appreciate the contrasts involved, I simply don’t like this chapter much. I do like the foreshadowing of the military’s arrival and the intrigue that Office Complex starts to set up, however.

    Mapper’s Corner: The whole setup with the broken light and electricity in the opening of this chapter is nice to examine.

    The Replay Experience Experiment: Office Complex

    – As we enter, the headcrabs start moving down the hall toward us. This isn’t scripted; they naturally start scurrying toward the player when they see us. Each crab passes a trigger_once that causes an env_beam to target them from the wire above, gibbing them nicely.

    – The nice effect of rising smoke is also done with an env_beam.

    – As we approach the light, to help warn us, another env_beam strikes the floor in front of us, which is a func_breakable to leave a small crater and throw some floor pieces everywhere.

    – If we continue down the corridor, we take some small damage from a trigger_hurt combined with a sound to give us our last warning.

    – If we insist on proceeding, we’re simply killed with a high damage trigger_hurt. We were certainly given fair warning here.

    – When we throw the power switch, it turns off the flickering light and removes the trigger_hurts so we can proceed down the hallway by using the “killtarget” feature of trigger_relays. It also shuts down the fan in the vent (a func_rotating).

    In all, a nice environmental hazard with a touch of a puzzle thrown in.

    Playtime: 21 minutes

  8. Ahh the Dreamcast.
    Often considered one of the greatest consoles of all time. It has a knack for homebrew and emulation. It came out in the US on 9/9/99. It’s a pretty small system.
    It has a great controller.
    But enough about the Dreamcast. Half-Life was original supposed to be released for the Dreamcast but due to the Dreamcast slowly dieing, it was canceled only a few days before it was going to be released. Not too long ago the almost complete Dreamcast version was leaked to the internet. Due to the non-existent anti-piracy measures on the Dreamcast, you could pretty much download any Dreamcast game, burn it to a CD-R and play it on your Dreamcast. Sense I already own HL1 on the PC and PS2, I didn’t feel really bad about pirating it.
    Now onto the game. The title screen looks very similar to the PS2 version.
    I won’t really be talking about the model differences. I will be talking about the mapping differences.
    First of all, at the beginning of the chapter, there’s an extra hallway to get to the room with the 2 scientists, probably so you couldn’t sequence break this sequence.
    The second difference is that in the vents, instead of going right, you have to go left.
    The third difference is that there is no table past the electricity.
    This isn’t a difference but a weird bug with my version. 2 of the textures on my version are weird and go to a glass texture instead. Probably just something wrong with how I burned it.
    P.S I took all the pictures afterwards so it would make my play time longer
    Playtime: 10:46

  9. “…I heard troops are coming in, to save us!”

    This is one of my favorite parts of HL, because it contains offices with cool layouts and my favorite HL weapon, the shotgun, is available with plenty of ammo, you can even max it out to 133 shells!
    Besides that there are plenty, and in my eyes too much, ammo clips for the pistol and health stations and / or healthkits and HEV batteries. Yeah, it’s just too much ammo and health..
    It’s odd Valve is giving that much ammo, and I only recognized it by replaying this chapter for the TREE event, but I can’t remember I was in need of ammo anytime I played through HL..

    What else is cool is yet again the pretty awesome mapping, details everywhere, beautiful textures and never-getting-boring design with some neat ideas. Also the lighting, for example just after exiting the elevator to the corridor with the grilled headcrabs πŸ˜‰

    So there I just love breaking crates with the crowbar again, accessing the secret areas with all the goodies (I would have had around 50 grenades already as I barely use them) and just smiling when entering some other full-of-memories-area like the cooling rooms. (Hi Bullsquids!)

    “Office Complex” is also again full of scripts involving funny scientist-in-need scenes and some other surprising ones like the turrets etc. Those scripts are never getting “old”.
    Another nice thing is the mix of action and puzzles, often I thought at some crossing: “where to go now?” but at last there’s just one way, it’s simply not obvious sometimes at first how to get there, that also counts for the secret areas, sometimes the way to get to them can take quite long time compared to how much time you would need if you could go there directly!

    What’s odd are some enemy placements here, especially in one of the office areas (alien slaves) or the Barnacles in the vent room.
    The most weird thing is the turret in some sort of warehouse area.
    I always wondered: WHY is a turret THERE?

    The Gman can be seen again, but he’s unreachable as the door is locked, so you can only watch him going through the room behind the doors window. It was mysterious at first playing.

    Playtime: 14 minutes (yeah yeah, a bit fast, however I visited every area again, including the secrets!)

  10. Recently played “Office Complex” and to be frank, barely remembered it as I got through so quickly. But it did bring back some memories and dispelled a lot of false ones. I must have played many more HL mods than I thought!
    This level I remember as being very difficult the first time mainly because of my lack of ammunition. In those early days I thought the crowbar was just for crate and vent smashing and spent a lot of ammo killing headcrabs and zombies. So when I met a vortigaunt their first bolt of energy was always fatal and I spent a lot of time on the vending machines recharging! I remember helping a few scientists die; they always seemed to end up like that if they helped me!
    The flooded office was a quick, “oh hum” last time I played it, but the first was a logistical endeavour and I died a few times just getting to the med unit and I was playing on easy!
    The discovery of turrets proved very draining; on health and the sound is still hauntingly familiar. Being a portent of danger their noise is creepy and deadly, Valve found just the right sound.
    Things get darker and it almost resembles a horror game, what with monsters busting out of doors and scientists being dragged into vents with a good measure of ” ketchup” on the wall and creepy black doorways barricaded with wood. Where did they find planks of wood in a Scientific Research Facility, hammers and nails? I suppose all those crates left everywhere could be the source!
    I used my “Barney’s” to tackle a lot of the monsters, not only were they better shots but they were fearless.
    The recessed dinning area became a major hurdle and was replayed a lot before I finally survived long enough, ammo issues again. I did have a helpful Barney.
    The refrigerated storage area I remember as quit a complex challenge and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was still interesting on a replay, but so easy now. So it must have made an impression on me the first time to be so easily remembered many years later.
    The ending of this complex was quite eerie, with that dark area behind the blown out wall and the blood-curdling scream of that scientist falling past as I climbed the ladder. I did not notice the scientist hanging on for dear life until the third or fourth try to grasp that ladder after a jump!
    This level has some nice little horror skits, some glimpsed through grates and door windows and some before your very eyes. And the every present creepy suit guy, who ever the hell he is. Maybe a Government spook!
    I found the indestructible wooden doors to be quite strange, but those creatures seemed to break them with alacrity so I guess they’re rather stronger than my weapons!
    I must say the scientists were appallingly treated in this level lets just hope things get better for them later!
    This was a hard fascinating task for me the first time and seemed epic in scope, office complex was just a level and it nearly finished me off! I remember it took me a while to get through, maybe a week of snatched hours here and there.

  11. Vic

    We exit the elevator with pistol in hand, prepared for whatever dangers may await us in Sector D’s Administration areas. “Office Complex”, while it may represent filler in Half-Life 1’s overall progression, is actually very important for the HL series” overall flow and legacy.

    For starters, this is where Half-Life’s iconic vent-crawling mechanics were first introduced. They are used extensively throughout the chapter, and they serve to subtly teach us that Half-Life’s environments are different from what its late 90s contemporaries had to offer: corridors upon corridors of mundane, tedious and illogical progression. And so, Half-Life boldly stood out.

    Speaking of Office Complex’s environments – the inherent irony present in the underlying thematic is just brilliant. Marc Laidlaw himself worked as an office worker (a patent secretary, to be more precise) for a fairly long time, and I’d imagine the drab, soulless, stereotypical office spaces seen in this part of Half-Life might have been based, at least primevally, on his experiences at that patent office. How ironic that games such as F.E.A.R. (infamous for its incredibly repetitive “IKEA office” level design) took these concepts at face value. It’s almost as if Valve are among the few game dev studios that can really apply refinement, subtlety and discretion to their creations and designs.

    The office spaces themselves seem to date from Black Mesa’s old days as a military ICBM installation in the 1950s. They certainly give off that feel, and the texture files for the chapter are, in fact, prefixed with “fifties”. The level design itself is terrific, and even provides some nonlinearity (adding replay value to subsequent playthroughs) but much like the canals of the previous chapter, Office Complex does suffer from some slightly illogical and bizarre layout design, although it’s nowhere near as evident and glaring as it was in the latter half of Unforeseen Consequences. It’s definitely a lot more tolerable.

    And in Office Complex, Valve managed to make the player feel like the hunted, and not the hunter – which I think is just incredible, even to this day. They did it best in this very chapter, where the player’s arsenal and experience is still limited, and where the claustrophobic, tight environments leave us wondering what might be lurking behind the next corner.

    It’s a paradigm that Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington first established when they played Doom 1, and realized that the game, for them at least, really was a shooting gallery, where the player himself is the firing target.

    Ironically, Half-Life itself implemented that paradigm even better than id Software’s own Doom 3 did, which attempted to make the player even more vulnerable with its horror gameplay mechanics. But as Half-Life has proven, you don’t need monster closets, loud noises and satanism to scare the living hell out of the gamer. Time and time again, Valve’s affinity for wise subtlety and refinement is illustrated within their own games.

    I’d also say that Office Complex is a sort of proto-Ravenholm, so to speak. The abundance of Headcrab Zombies/Mawmen; the nearly palpable sensation of terror in the aftermath of a disaster; and the aforementioned “hunted player” paradigm – all these serve to mold Office Complex into an extremely tense experience.

    Gabe Newell stated in early 2010 that Half-Life needed to return to scaring players – I think we can all agree that it really does need that. While the development of Half-Life 3 has undergone some significant and extensive conceptual “earthquakes”, so to speak, I truly hope that idea is still on the HL3 cabal team’s agenda. Because replaying Office Complex has showed me just how sublime the Half-Life experience can become when Gordon Freeman, the messiah, becomes Gordon Freeman, the survivor.

    Play time: 30 minutes

  12. Ade

    Wow, this time I finally got to see G-Man
    Playtime: 11 minutes, judging by saves time but could be wrong; soz I forgot to write down the minute I started.. again

  13. k00pa

    This has one of the best action sections of the games. You see the Vortigaunts for the first time and you get the shotgun for the first time, really nice combo.

    It also contained some small and fun puzzles.

    Playtime: 8min

  14. Probably my least favourite chapter in the whole game, maybe even in the whole series, next to Nova Prospekt chapters from HL2. I don’t know why it feels this way, I just find this chapter to be really boring.
    Playtime: about 15 minutes, less than 10 hen I rush

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