After arming himself with advanced prototype weaponry, Gordon again reaches the surface. It has become a war zone. The Vortigaunts, along with Alien Grunts and Gargantuas, have begun making determined attacks against the Marines, and the tide of the battle is beginning to turn in favor of the aliens.
The Marines call in reinforcements, but it isn’t enough. Gordon must scale cliffs and navigate the bombed out buildings while avoiding both sides as the forces of Xen begin to dominate the battlefield. Finally, Gordon reaches relative safety underground.
- The original name of this chapter, Cliff Hanger, was used on E3 1998.
- Like “Half-Life”, “Blue Shift”, “Opposing Force” and “Decay”, “Surface Tension” is a scientific pun, referring to the properties of water which makes certain objects float above it.
- A part of a map in this chapter was used to create the map Hunted in Team Fortress Classic.
- The canyon scene was mirrored at the end of the Half-Life 2 chapter Sandtraps, the Headcrab in the last pipe being replaced by a Fast Zombie. The Apache scene is also mirrored at the end of Lost Coast.
- The Chopper which hunts the player down some point of the chapter can be destroyed using a fully charged Tau Cannon.
- The player can make the Chopper destroy itself by letting it see you when it first arrives in the map, firing rockets at you, and the rocks (which kill the Chopper as it is in the explosion radius.
- This chapter takes place at the same time as the Half-Life: Opposing Force chapter “We Are Pulling Out”.
The challenges below have been set by 2muchvideogames
- Kill an APC with its own rocket.
- Kill 3 snipers.
- Pick up 2 tripmines in the tripmine-infested building.
MEDIUM: 100 Health 8 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.
An absolutely amazing chapter. Getting out on the cliff was a huge thrill for me. There’s almost too much to talk about. So many scripted scenes and ideas. I suppose for me the highlight was the launcher near the end. That thing rocked. Almost wish they had made the area three times the size, but I guess the limits of the hardward of the day made it difficult.
Seems to me that this chapter and Blast pit are the “main” parts of the game, at least so far. the other chapters just get you ready for these.
Plenty of action in this chapter, but my favourite section was the part with the APC. From image 13 to 16. It’s such a small area but I needed a full ten minutes and a number of detahs to really get my head around it.
This section should be used as an example of how to squeeze the maximum amount of gameplay out of a small and simple area.
The Gargantua AND tentacles in one chapter seems like over kill but it worked well. Couple thoswe with the chopper and you have a really tough level.
It almost makes me think that it was done on purpose to contrast with the background story being told here. “Everything is not as simple and clear cut as it seems.”
I feel the main entrance area also contrast well with the simple corridors.
Again, I didn’t see him in this chapter.
There are probably lots of little errors in a chapter so big, but I the only thing I experience was the car jack. If you walked up to it instead of jumping it pushed you back a lot.
Yes and No. The first time I went through, it didn’t follow me, so I just carried on without him, but the second time he followed me and I blasted the mufo!
– Kill an APC with its own rocket.
– Kill 3 snipers.
– Pick up 2 tripmines in the tripmine-infested building.
I was in a war!
1 hour 24 minutes
Too many to count
Oh God, this level hated me. Just looking in the wrong direction seemed to get me killed.
Very long chapter focusing on the war between soldiers and aliens. The soldiers are giving every trick they brought in this chapter, including tanks, APC’s helicopters, everything. Unfortunately, I ‘missed” the tau cannon so I am not able to blow everything up with it. Worry not, though, because there’s plenty of action here.
Challenges: Killing the APC with it’s own rocket is REALLY HARD FOR ME! I tried it before and got it once, meaning that it is possible. But it look me like 20 tries! ARG! Anyway the other two challenges are pretty mild and simple.
Deaths: 1 (Killed by Apache helicopter at the cliffside)
Another long chapter. Between its boring gray ruins, very stunning new things are hidden.
Fuel storage with flying barrels. Isn’t that fun?
A while later, a bridge with big turret. This is where I landed after being killed by it.
It is especially pleasing to play this in Half-Life: Source, because, as you know from my Half-Life Source Fun video, in this version, you can easily destroy a helicopter with the Gauss Gun. Stupid military sends a lot of these after you, only to be destroyed!
We get through some terrains, which is a welcome change of scenes, because they look different than the rooms we’re used to. The designers did a good job at creating a place where it’s challenging to find a way to advance.
There are supplies lying in various places, one of them is especially dangerous.
This chapter introduces minefields, which we can make safe by our weapons.
The cliff is something completely different. It certainly looks very inspiring, and that fade to black if you fall looks cool. In Half-Life: Source the pre-rendered sky was replaced by realtime 3D Skybox:
Then we meet tanks which can turn and shoot at us. Once again, Gauss Gun helps here.
Misaligned crate texture:
The same misaligned texture in original Half-Life:
It is strange that Valve didn’t notice it and didn’t fix, because they replaced brush terrain with displacement, and when doing that they were in the editor at that place, and the misaligned texture looks very noticeable.
We go around a gray building, there are snipers, mines and tripbombs on our way. Finally, we’re on the roof and a smoke attracts our attention to the hole which we use to get inside, where we find another exciting new thing: there are tripmines around the building, and if we explode them, the whole building explodes. Now even a simple headcrab becomes a source of worry. Finally, it’s possible to laugh at this place by placing a remote control bomb there and exploding it right before going to the next level. Now, if you go back, the game will load your previous save.
In the next block of ruins, when we find our way around the green doors, Barney will open them for us. Barney, why couldn’t you do it earlier?
Also there’s my another nitpick: z-fighting
I looked at the same place in original Half-Life, no z-fighting there.
And when we finally get to the balcony ladder, it’s possible to use Half-Life Source’s ladderjump glitch to bypass sections of level or go outside of it:
There are stunning scripts with soldiers, when they throw explosives, shoot through the ventilation. When we lead barney to input codes for us, the game hints on what we should do by placing the first code lock near him.
Finally, we find ourselves in the garage with another Garg. We run from him and get to cool airstrike controls. With them, we open our way to next chapter, Forget About Freeman!
Overall, it’s a great chapter, because it introduces a lot of new stunning level designs and gameplay elements.
Playtime: 54 minutes.
This is, at this point of the game, the hardest part of HalfLife, by far. It’s long, convoluted, and supremely difficult. It sets the stage for the rest of the game, showing the player that the stakes have ramped up, that all sides are playing for keeps, and that you (Freeman) better ramp up your game as well.
And Xen is making its presence known, with more and more “bits” that aren’t native to Earth: organic stuff grown on walls, jump pads, etc. The fighting is vicious, the vortiguants are fighting harder and harder, more and more Alien Grunts are popping in. And the human forces are losing. We do some to help stem the tide; but we get the feeling that it isn’t enough–still, we keep going and fighting.
I died ALOT during this chapter; and, it’s been SO LONG since I played it, I was having trouble remembering what to do to get out of a certain section (I’m trying to remember which one), and I finally had to pull up a walkthru. 🙁 I’d rather not do walkthrus, or noclip/god modes, but sometimes I find it necessary. So far, tho, I only resorted to god mode once (with the tentacles), so I guess I’m doing alright.
Seven words: HOLY FVKK THEY ARE KICKING MY ASS!!
The first time we reached the surface following the Incident, we were forced back underground 25 seconds later. That was a testament to how strong the military, and perhaps how unimportant, or even weak Gordon himself was, at that point in Half-Life’s narrative.
But almost 24 hours later, things appear to have changed a great deal. Apart from sporadic bursts of distant gunfire, it’s all quiet on the western front. Not only has Gordon emerged as a significant threat to the military, but the Xenian combat forces themselves have mounted some sort of harsh offensive, and in certain areas, government troops are engaged in intense firefights with alien forces. And it’s not looking good for humanity.
Still, the military has been ruthless in its bombardment of the topside facilities, as many areas we pass through have been utterly devastated by F-16 airstrikes (in fact, at one point we get a close-up view of a bombing run on . Xenian infestation has also taken its toll on the facility, as we encounter a number of strange biological growths, including Snark nests, the infamous jumping pads, and other sorts of bizarre Xen flora/fauna.
A number of new “enemies” are introduced here, chiefly armored government cavalry like the M1A1 Abrams battle tank and the M2A3 Bradley IFV. We also take on the V-22 Osprey heliplane, and the AH-64 Apache gunship.
Taking on the Osprey and Apache is a lot of fun, but I always thought the Abrams and Bradley took a few too many hits before going down. The Bradley (particularly, the variants that only use their M242 autocannons) also fires a bit too fast to be properly balanced, but still – I suppose these are heavy armor units we’re dealing with, so it makes sense that they’d be a pain to take down.
Regretfully, we never get to shoot down… an F-16 or something, but I guess that would have been way too over-the-top, even for Half-Life.
We’re introduced to the “GAM-14B” RPG launcher, a slightly more futuristic version of the real-life Armbrust ATW rocket launcher. What a weapon this is – too bad ammunition is so scarce, forcing us to use our brand new Tau Cannon more frequently. Still, the RPG is undeniably destructive, so it all makes for good game balancing in the end.
We also obtain the Hivehand, or the Hornet Gun – the living, organic assault rifle that the Alien Grunts use in battle. It’s pretty neat, but I wish the ammo capacity was just a little bit bigger – because as it is, it has a really detrimental effect on all the other attributes of the weapon as a whole (let’s just say that 75% of all Half-Life players never use the Hivehand, and the other 25% lie about using it) And how exactly does it end up in the location where we pick it up? Just… lying on the floor? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
There’s lots of great combat sequences in this chapter, that really make the player think on their feet, and apply what they’ve learned so far to a number of different gameplay situations. The cliffside scene is one of the most memorable of the entire franchise, and the sequence right after that (where we sneak around a small sewer system before emerging to ambush a squad of soldiers and an Abrams), is also extremely enjoyable, with some really different and fun combat.
But the combat is broken up by some interesting navigation/exploration sequences, like the one taking place in the Ordnance Storage Facility, where the military have booby-trapped the entire building, and a single misplaced step can send the entire sector sky-high. Believe it or not, I loved this bit, and I was sad to see it end so quickly nowadays.
Towards the end, there’s also the great Gargantua chase scene, but I thought that had a lot more potential if properly developed (as it is, it’s a 10-second tidbit). Still, it leads into the excellent tactical map episode, so who am I to complain? But then again, the chapter ends right after that, so… ouch.
Overall, Surface Tension is an absolutely terrific chapter. Undeniably memorable, and one of Half-Life’s best, if not the best. An equal blend of exploration, action-packed combat, featuring some stellar level design.
Five Words Or Less: Action, action, and more action!
Play time: 48 minutes
Hey, I use the hivehand! from behind corners, that is 😀
The longest chapter ever in the entire half-life series.
I like this chapter a lot, because it gives you new weapons (and you pretty much can’t run out of ammo of the old weapons) because of the thousands of soldiers. I’d rather fight 10 soldiers than one alien, because I know the soldiers is paying back much more ammo than needed to kill him.
We start out of questionable ethics, with a dangerously fast-closing door. the action starts right away as a soldier ambushes you and many other shoot at you, and the barrels are pretty cool.
Then, the Dam. To attentive players, they will notice this isn’t the first time, nor the last that you see this dam. It has been showed on the walls in anomalous materials. Then opposing force brings back to that dam, from the other side. There are also a few mods that use this dam, either before or after those original playthroughs. I remember a mod that got you to visit it before the resonance cascade (maybe induction?) and also I think we go thru it at some point in point of view
we (usually) go thru the turbines I water and swim to the other side. then some sand fields, with marines, houndeyes, headcrabs, a tentacle and some mines.
Then a cliff side, with many marines, a chopper, the incredible RPG, and also a wooden plank bridge that is also seen in opposing force, which means the time between shepard’s crash and his “we are pulling” chapter is longer than the time between the cliff side and the end of surface tension, meaning that shephard has possibly been out a long time.
We then get in a military camp, with a tank that has way too much hp, pointless to try to kill it you’ll just waste too much ammo.
then right after we go out, there is another tank, whose rockets you can actually move around with your laser sight (providing you still have ammo for your RPG). pretty cool. then a building to walk around, some electricity to turn off (blow up) and the building with the nuclear missiles (which, as I said before, are the same ones as the one we see during black mesa inbounds, and the one in opposing force, but are different from the one we launch in on a rail)
This building is strangely a lot bigger on the inside (is the entire black mesa like this? that would explain a lot of stuff).
Touch one mine or break one box and you’re dead.
then some wandering around in some place that doesn’t look like black mesa anymore, more like a military boot camp or something. then a hangar, and a door that can give infinite health (I didn’t use it in my vid cause this would make the rest of the game too easy) and then a garg, some air strike control panel, and the level is over. it may be fun, but writing this review wasn’t way too long 😛
Five Words or less review:
Long and awesome outside chapter
2. I GOT 2 DEATHS! yes I know, I’m the worst player ever, but hey I did my best.
1 death from fall damage after a almost failed snarkclimb
1 other death from randomly jumping in my own airstrike that was far away from the control panel.
At least I’m proud to say that none of you guys here would be even able to die like I did, because I died using pretty hard tricks both times.
7 minutes 21 seconds 167 milliseconds. Could do under 7 minutes if I had another try.
Which door is it that can give you health?
there are actually 2 of those, but one of them can be completely skipped. it’s the doors that barney is supposed to open not long before the garg part. it’s a mapping bug, the collision damage of the door is set to -1 so that every frame that you spend stuck in the door gives you one suit power, and if suit is empty it gives you one hp. So make sure you don’t have any power before entering it, or you’ll end up gaining suit power instead of health, which doesn’t absorb all damage, nor has any effect on fall damage. it’s way better to get tons of health. this doesn’t not have a limit, so you can get more than 100. the maximum possible in the game source is about 65565 but hey, with 5000 hp you can pretty much go through the rest of the game easily without dying, even by taking huge amounts of damage. the HUD will, however, not monitor values higher than 255, so when it reaches 256 it actually shows 1, and goes on starting over. you still have the health though, and upon making it go back down to 0 it will go back to 255. This makes it very hard to estimate how much hp you really have left when you’ve been playing dangerously for quite a time.
Check this vid at 24:45
Or click here to load directly at correct time
(copy paste the entire link because for whatever reason the website only considers the first part as a link)
This is quadrazid’s single-segment speedrun of the whole game in 32:55, and he uses that door in it. when he leaves the door, he has ~3850hp
Since the door’s damage is based on FPS, setting a higher fps (with the console command fps_max) will make you gain hp faster, and lowering it will make you gain it slowly. There are very few doors that work with collision damage per frame through the game, and those are the only 2 mapped with -1 damage (probably a lazy copy-paste by mappers :P). You can use this fps lowering trick to get hurt less by the other damage doors that actually makes you loose hp.
I hope I haven’t been too confusing
-The Half-Life Geek, Kaito Kid
The one you need a Barney for, that leads into the parking building with the Garg in it.
your answer: clear and simple
my answer: ton of useless confusing enormous information
one question, 2 completely different perspective O.O
This is my favorite Half-Life chapter. So many great scripted sequences. Remember the part where the Soldier throws the satchel into the crawlspace, then he sets it off and you have to outrun the fireball? That defined Half-Life for me. People always said this game felt alive. I never really got that vibe, until now. This chapter felt like it was real. I loved the little touches like the sand raining down after setting off a mine. Some of the texturing (especially on the rocks) was really pixelated. This was probably the buggiest chapter in HL1. There was a lot of texturing errors and you can even get outside one of the maps.
Also, there was a part where the textures before a map change didn’t match up with the textures after a map change.
There were quite a few differences in the Dreamcast version.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc9SsWxexsE&feature=plcp (not my video)
Link to all my screenshots: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198000401400/screenshots/
I got all the challenges.
Time: 36 minutes
5 words or less: Combat and Death
you can get outside many of the maps, if not all of them. I got outside 3 of them in my vid, and I know at least 4 others possible. (that is if you count the ability to go in the skybox)
Ah yes, one of the first things you come across is the iconic Surface Tension dam. Luckily the Ichthyosaur seemed to have been already taken out by the Apache.
Speaking of the helicopter I found myself getting my arse handed to me by it many times and found it quite frustrating as I couldn’t remember exactly where to go… This was the cause of my probably slightly longer than average playtime.
The cliff-face could be considered iconic too, though you have to admit that backdrop does look pretty terrible :p
The rest of the chapter seemed to drag on a bit for me, not really due to the content, but I half expected ” Forget about Freeman!” to pop up after every map load… I had honestly forgotten that this chapter was so long!
Challenges complete: Kill 3 snipers
Playtime: 83 minutes!
Surface Tension is the heart of Half-Life. The best chapter by far in the game. Even if the various locations inside Black Mesa weren’t different enough environments for you from Half-Life’s predecessors, the vast brightly-lit outdoor maps and memorable setpieces certainly distinguished it in the late 90s.
This chapter is also more action-heavy then other chapters and the exposition is nearly absent, besides a mention of the Lambda Complex and then the evidence that the military is pulling out. I think this action in combination with the setting (recall we’ve been reminded all game that we have to reach the surface) make it the juiciest part of the game. There doesn’t seem to be any filler in Surface Tension, although there are definitely lulls in the action to let you rest and lick your wounds.
There’s a decent amount of music in Surface Tension (including what’s become the ‘valve Theme’) but this one stands out for me: Electric Guitar Ambience, played right when you have to slow down a bit to pick your way through a minefield and sniper nests. Another beautiful atmospheric piece:
I did notice that the difficulty clearly ramps up in Surface Tension. Yes, we’ve been ramping up all along but things really get tough here with the Apaches and tanks that we face. I’ve been playing on hard and I think this is the first time I’ve actually been killed by enemies rather than the environment or special enemies (tentacle and rocket launcher), and I consistently had below 50 health for much of the chapter. The challenge is really right where I want it, and I wish the earlier game could have lived up to this type of difficulty without making it impossible.
I don’t have too much else to say about this chapter, it pretty much stands up to the test of time as a classic section of a classic video game.
Mapper’s Corner: So very many little mapping tricks to choose from in this chapter. How about the minefields?
There are of course no actual ‘mines” for these minefields, each mine is accomplished with a handful of entities. First, the visual and audio effects:
– an env_sprite so that you see the explosion
– several env_shooters that shoot sand particles up into the air
– a decal on the ground (infodecal) is triggered to add the scorch mark once the mine is set off
– two ambient_generics for sound effects, one for the actual explosion sound and one for the sound of sand and debris falling back down to the ground
– an env_shake is briefly used to shake the screen to enhance the feeling of a huge explosion
– Then there’s the actual damage which is a trigger_hurt set to very high damage so it definitely kills you.
– The key part that sets everything off is a func_breakable just above the ground. It’s set to really low health so that any bullet or just a touch of damage triggers it; it’s also has the ‘touch” flag set so that just by stepping on it, the player triggers it.
The tricky bit is that in-game, everything is invisible until the mine is actually set off, so really only experience or shooting the ground randomly will help you. A grenade or two also will set them off (several if you’re lucky) but might not be worth wasting precious explosives.
Playtime: 46 minutes
“Proceed with extreme caution!”
What to say? This is my favorite chapter of HL!
But as I now did replay it on hard it also can or will be frustrating a bit as there’s so much action and tough enemies / mean enemy placement here.
Whatever, it’s a great experience!
It consists of tricky jumping sequences, many large outdoor areas, some nice puzzles, very cool scripted events, surprising moments and at last but not least plenty of excellent combat, hooray! What a yummy cocktail!
The dam always reminds me of the dam scene in “007 Goldeneye” movie as they look similar:
In “Surface Tension” there’s so much action! Tanks, helicopters, snipers and armies of aliens and soldiers await us, demanding our skills and tactics to survive tough battles.
Sometimes you have to be fast to avoid getting hit by an APC for example.
However, at some points you also have to do some well-timed jumps to proceed.
Pretty good architecture and lighting, and also layouts resulting into lot of variety and the fact most parts take place outdoor is another good argument for liking this chapter lots.
Who wants to run through poorly designed, tight corridors all the time? Yeah…
As it’s also a long chapter there are many places waiting to be explored if you want, goodies await there. And it’s also great to replay this chapter whenever playing through HL because there’s just so much variety: enemies, surroundings and so on.
The music is also very cool at specific spots, pumping more adrenaline in tough fights which is cool too. Also some ambient sounds.
On my way through the chapter I finally shot down all of the four helicopters (3 Apaches, 1 Osprey) using the Gauss or rockets from the now new rocket launcher, yay!
To me, it was and still is a very special moment when getting the “pocket rockets” 😉 the first time and it comes to another cool battle immediatly, wow!
And who isn’t extremely happy when accessing the weapon storage finally after losing every single weapon some chapters ago?
Found another bug which is very well known as it appears often, soldier in the sky: http://i.imgur.com/9Eek2.jpg
What to say? I love this chapter!
Airstrikes, useable turrets, fighting flying killing machines, tanks; plus (!) every horrible alien monster HL can offer in one package, combined with the other “features” is just impressive… go, PLAY IT NOW!
-Kill an APC with its own rocket. – Not this time, but did before
-Kill 3 snipers. – Yup
-Pick up 2 tripmines in the tripmine-infested building. – Just 1
5 words or less review: Quicksave’s your best friend here.
Playtime: 51 minutes
Deaths: Didn’t expected that many: about 15 (hard difficulty)
Man those flying barrels in the beginning of this chapter were a treat for me when I first played this. Didn’t know what bugs were at the time but I sure enjoyed flying with those barrels, latent state or exploding 😀
Here’s the vent shooting bit that EmoLevelDesigner was talking about: http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/920108508515263334/DBB890A299B5280066B4C475B7FB16F2682566DC/
And this type of mapping is something I always drool over, even tho it’s a common style seen in CS and even HL2: http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/920108508515167371/64011ACF81E98D6E807FF7C6F944271DF61A686F/
I actually forgot about the part where a grunt throws a satchel in the pipe we crawl in. My God, I laughed my ass off while running from the imminent fire! Such a fun part that was.. Another great way to make the player feel like an action hero.
This is definitely my favorite chapter of all, because as PP said, it felt like I was in a war! I enjoyed every bit of it and might replay it before moving onto the next chapter.
Challenges: I did the first by accident and was so disappointed that I had to reload and kill it the proper way -_-
2nd I guess it’s not a real challenge since you have to kill both snipers to continue the normal way.
3rd, if they were in the crates near the very first trip mine, then yes.
Playtime: 1 hour and 28 minutes! I’m a slow poke because of my attempts at different tactics, but I don’t regret it in this chapter 😀
PLAY IT NOW!
Please don’t feel that the inclusion of the playtime is a race. Play at your own speed and enjoy it. I certainly didn’t want people to play faster – I just thought it might be interesting to know how long we all took.
yeah don’t take that as a race, I’m not doing them fast because I want to, I just can’t stand normal gameplay anymore since I’m so used to the faster one. You play as you like and there is no form of competition here.
Kinda like in QE, some areas in this chapter feel too empty for me, oh well.