This chapter finds Gordon Freeman making good progress, passing through various storage and staging areas, continuing his hunt for a way to the surface. Gordon learns that the soldiers rumored to be coming on a rescue mission have already arrived.
He attempts to join up with them, but walks into a room to witness a Marine killing a scientist. It is then that he discovers that the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, which has taken control of Black Mesa, is not just killing the aliens, they are also killing everyone connected to the project, including himself.
When he eventually reaches the surface, Gordon finds himself in an area totally under the control of the military and, worse, in the middle of an artillery bombardment – taking cover, he is forced back into the underground complex. However, it is revealed that the surviving members of the Lambda Team (in the Lambda Complex at the other end of the facility) may be able to close the dimensional rift. Therefore, Gordon begins the journey across Black Mesa to reach them.
- In the beginning of the chapter, a scientist is seen screaming about opening the silo doors. You can crowbar him once, and he can run into the door to the office. In the office (where the zombie drags the guard into the air vent) you can press the button to open the silo door, and continue to Blast Pit, without needing to complete the entire level.
This doesn’t include the non-stop spawning ones.
The challenges below have been set by 2muchvideogames
- Don’t let any scientist in this chapter die (8 total).
- Destroy the Osprey.
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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.
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Biggest thing that strikes me about this chapter is the fact you come full circle. This is especially frustrating since you get to the surfcae, even if it was just for a few seconds.
Another big surprise was the non-stop spawning of enemies. Very useful for forcing players along. I didn’t see the challenges until after I had finished playing the chapter but had I know it was possible to destroy the Osprey I might have given it a go.
Not having the grunts rapel down the air shaft would have been a blessing.
The announcements also started to get a little “dark” too. Telling scientist to go topside for questioning is a nice touch.
“This announcement system now under military command”. That just freaked me out. Really felt like “stuff” was happening around me.
I also noticed that I started to close the fire doors behind to stop enemies from sneaking up behind me.
The main warehouse section is fantastic; lots of twists and turns seeing what’s coming and what’s been etc.
There’s also the introduction of the army grunts and the floor turrets.
I really feel that this level took a jump in action and difficulty. From such a soft beginning this is turning tough!
Playtime: 35 minutes
I’ve not commented on any chapters so far, but read with interest everything that has been written. In spite of (at last) getting my HL1 to finally work, I’ve been playing along in HL:Source instead. The grunts DID NOT rappel down the shaft as you open the little hatch to escape, or at least they didn’t in my playthrough, even though I was ready and waiting for them…..
Now after spotting one or two other minor oddities, I’m wondering if there’s a definitive list anywhere of the differences, no matter how minor, between the two versions?
I have no idea how to destroy the osprey though, and will have to go back and have another look now……
I didn’t bother shooting down the Osprey circling around me (i know it’ll be just ammo consuming) and the Marines rapelling down the Air Shaft wasn’t an annoyance at least for me (and i’m playing the GoldSrc HL on hard).
But I never thought it could be possible skipping the chapter by just crowbaring the Silo Door’s scientist and them directly proceed to the next chapter, i’m not sure if this bug happens in both HL versions (i mean the GoldSrc and Source versions)
it’s possible in both, but different. goldsrc can make him open the door by attacking him and scaring him to the door, but also by just pressing E on him betweent he sentences and he’ll follow you
in source, only the crowbar/attack and scare work
That reminds me: the sound is all jacked up too. 🙁
This is where I noticed everything going waaaayyyy too fast, the soldiers move like roaches on crack. I tried to kill the V22, but it didn’t cooperate; but it never dropped the soldiers on me either.
A fast level(!–might be the machine running way to fast), I got lost in the ductwork for a bit, but I managed to find my way out.
Things are getting harder and harder, there’s less ammo, health, and charge available. I’ve stopped wasting ammo on any headcrabs that are relatively close: I can take them out faster and more easily with the crowbar.
I still play it best using my typical “sneak ninja sniper” method. Doing a speed run just gets me hurt and killed.
EDIT: Sentry guns can be shot and disabled!! I forgot about that! Hide behind a post or crate, use the pistol or shotgun, and just plink it til it dies. Usually it take 3-4 shots, max. 😉
BTW, Was there a G-man sighting in this chapter? I didn’t see him.
Yes. He walks across a catwalk early in the chapter. Check out my let’s play.
yep, just look
What are those icons on the bottom? Are you playing on the dreamcast version?
That’s the speedometer HUD mod he’s using for his speedruns. The top indicator shows the previously-achieved maximum speed. The one on the bottom shows the current speed the player is moving at.
not exactly, yes it’s a speedomteer HUD modification, but the top number is the speed when I last jumped, and the lower number is current speed.
One of Phillip’s screenshots above actually has the G-man in it as well. 🙂
Playtime: 33 minutes
We’ve got hostiles, the level where you stop killing aliens and start killing HUMANS (or at least are supposed to start, but you can kill scientists before that :D)
When I first played through it, I was super afraid of the lasers, but now I realize the game is made so that we don’t fear them. the first 2 are made to show that you can go through them without harm, since it’s super hard to go between them. then you clearly show they activated the turret. They show some tripmines real soon after that, to show that THOSE lasers aren’t as friendly. then we fight aliens, and they clearly show that the turret shoot the aliens too, but not stuff that moves (try to push a barrel when the turret can see it, if it doesn’t see you it doesn’t shoot), making me wonder how the feck do they do turrets like that. Black mesa turrets are the same, and weirdly both kind don’t shoot at marines, is this cover up operation planned from the beginning?
Then we see our first living marine, clearly showing us they’re not friendly. most running around killing marines, then we get to the surface (AT LAST) just to be bombed and fight a dozen new marines per second because of the osprey. You get back inside quickly and swim in vents for a long time before finding your way and then you open the silo door and go into that radioactive part of black mesa 😀
Playtime: 2 minutes 25 seconds 833 milliseconds
Note: Due to Unq’s request, I will be taking the screen shots from the HLDC PC mod. I will still play it on the Dreamcast though.
This is where the s**t REALLY hits the fan. The plot twist isn’t really much of a plot twist due to pretty much every gaming magazine at the time ruining it by telling everyone that you fight humans. The AI of the Hgrunts were revolutionary at the time. Nowadays they are pretty stupid. Charging into battle with no sense of self -preservation and blowing themselves and their buddies up with grenades. TVtropes has a great little writeup about the HECU’s stupidity under “Artificial Stupidity” at this link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/Half-Life?from=Main.Half-Life
I was never a big fan of fighting the Human Grunts. I was more of an alien killing guy (and scientist killing :D). Looking back at this chapter some of the maps are very small. Reminds me of The Challenger Deep (I know how much Unq loves that mod :P). I always thought that making the doors close forever when breaking the glass was a horrible decision on Valve’s part due to players being able to get stuck without ever being able to get past without cheating.
I didn’t notice any major difference in this chapter on the Dreamcast version
Fun Fact: According to this beta screenshot of the Dreamcast version : http://www.nextdimension.org/betahalflife/dc/dc19.jpg , The player was supposed to go past the fence. The only reason I can think of this is maybe they wanted to have the mod “HL Chronicles Ep1” be an extra. As you can also see there are shadows in the beta version. This is also true of beta screenshots of OP4. I have a theory as to why: In HL1 there is coding for shadows. It was very buggy and never used (although you could turn them on in the WON version until it was patched out). My theory is that Gearbox thought that with OP4 and later the Dreamcast version they could fix the shadows and make them usable in it but eventually they couldn’t get them to work right. Just a theory. Lastly you can see that the HD weapon has the LD arms.
“We’ve Got Hostiles” seems like Half Life 2 in low res! You run around inside and out battling heavy armed combat, not combine, forces and smashing an awful lot of boxes, seriously it’s like “Too Many Crates”! That’s how it feels now, but it was so different back then. Also I had just bought “Half Life — Opposing Force” by this time and the two of them vied for my attention. Half Life won those early rounds mainly because this level was so well scripted and intense; just look how it starts! I was up for a fight from the onset but those red lasers looked scary. I really learned to despise sentry guns in this level, they sapped my strength and my grenades and that constant “Electro-buzz-fart” of newly arriving aliens didn’t help! On my replay I seemed quite low on health after those sentry guns and the vorts near the vending mechs killed me quite a few times!
The first time I was better off and got around to the wet floor and missed the guns there as I slid down the lift shaft! Grenaded my way around that corner and then wondered whether I should shut those blast doors or not.
The following firefight was truly epic and was a major struggle to survive so much intense action, especially when you miss the health and HEV chargers on the wall.
I never left a soldier standing or a scientist, collateral damage? And every box and crate got my crowbar! Smashy, smashy, such madcap fun, first and replay!
Reaching the surface you quickly bolt for a silo and disappear, well that was how my replay went. The first time I hesitated and was caught in another firefight on the surface running around and dying, luckily I spotted that silo, eventually and after dying again dived for it. The noise and shuddering made quite an impact and I felt fear running around thinking that at any moment all hell was going to break loose!
Oh the silos air conditioning tunnels were a treat to climb and traverse, but I could have done without the marines on ropes making life very uncomfortable. Even my recent replay found me struggling here.
The end result of all this mad rushing and combat is handled superbly with a very amusing jape. You plop out of the vent in the very room you gawped at when you first started this level. A big “ha, ha” in your face! Still caught me by surprise on my replay.
Here a scientist tells you all about your next quest to try and get killed and you press that big old button and the silo door opens you round a corner and a tiny little message appears, “Blast pit” it says innocently. That name still haunts my nightmares!
“In the beginning of the chapter, a scientist is seen screaming about opening the silo doors. You can crowbar him once, and he can run into the door to the office“.
Now I learn I could have avoided all that mayhem!
And I saw G-Man again! If only my luck would transfer to my kitty as I have to take him to the vet soon 🙁
Playtime: 24 minutes, could’ve done less if it wasn’t for steam chat
We’ve Got Hostiles! starts a pattern that will show up in several future chapters – you see your main goal right in the early part of the chapter. Indeed, we’re directly told the door is “our only way out!” In this chapter the exit door is right at the very start, but we’ll see similar situations again in the next two chapters as well as later on in Questionable Ethics.
Notice in this set of maps that Valve continues to introduce new enemies to you gently. The chapter opens with a scientist running right into a tripmine and you get to watch the results. Next is a sentry gun and its laser trips, but you’re relatively protected by cover, and headcrabs start teleporting in to help draw the fire from the sentry. You of course encounter grunts in this chapter, but you start off with just one, and then a small squad, but there’s plenty of cover and health around.
To me the standout section is the brilliant tease of the surface. Everyone’s been telling you to get topside and this is your first taste of daylight since the tram ride. And of course you’re immediately overwhelmed and forced right back underground and into the labyrinthine vents to boot. I find the last section of vent crawling to be a letdown, but it’s made up for by Valve merely toying with us by allowing us a whole 30 seconds outside (I didn’t dare try to take down the Osprey on this level while playing on difficult).
Of note, right at the big air shaft with the grunts rappelling down is the point where the Half-Life: Day One pre-release demo ends. This demo, while not generally available to the public (i.e. it was not easily downloadable), generated great word-of-mouth publicity right before Half-Life came out. In retrospect, I can see why. Imagine the tease of playing from the opening tram ride until just after seeing the surface… and then having the screen fade to black.
Mapper’s Corner: Valve set up a nice trap with the open elevator shaft area. Combine that with a slippery floor and laser tripwires that alert the sentry guns and you have a clever little corner that can be quite dangerous.
– The open elevator shaft is simply a tall vertical box, with an added trigger_hurt at the bottom set to very high damage to ensure your death when you fall down the shaft.
– The visible lasers are env_beams. Covering the thin lasers are triggers set to target all the sentry guns in the area (monster_sentries), so they will all wake up if you touch the lasers (actually the triggers). They will also all wake up if you bump into one or shoot one of them since they’re all named the same. The triggers are also set to allow monsters (e.g. scientists, headcrabs) and pushables (crates) to trigger the sentries as well.
– The really evil part is the slippery floor. This is a thin func_friction set to 30% normal floor friction, so it’s really easy to slide uncontrollably into the open shaft and die. Valve thoughtfully added a slippery floor caution sign though, so it’s your own fault if you die.
Playtime: 15 minutes
actually, if you bump into one, this one only will wake up. If you kill one, this will wake up all the others.
We’ve got hostiles, or “We have hotels”, as it was called in Russian version of Half-Life. How they could put a hotel (house where you can rent a room) on place of hostile (enemy) is beyond my understanding – these words are so different!
Anyway, back to the chapter. It introduces us to crazy soldiers who kill innocent people. First, you see the tripmines and turrets which they placed to “surprise” someone, then the soldiers themselves.
This is a welcome shift of scenes, the maps use nice storage set of textures, which I really like, and about two or three months ago I replayed it quite a few times to get inspiration for using these textures myself. If you’re interested, you can see a teaser of what’s coming from me here:
At the beginning, scientist rushes to the window, guard is forced to rush into vent, and I rush to clean the way for the scientist to save him.
Then there’s some intense action. Source engine really shines here with its ragdolls. Turret’s ragdoll is awesome. One time I exploded the barrels behind the soldier, and he was pushed by the explosion and fell down through the rails. Another time a dead soldier rolled down the stairs. This is something you’ll never see in original Half-Life.
The level layouts, enemy and object placement seem to work very well here. And there’s nice ambient sound plays all the time. Breaking the crates is sometimes rewarded with valuable items.
And finally, we get to the surface access lift, use it, only to be forced to get back into the storages, into their ventilation system. Surprising depth will open for us, new part of the same place. There you can explore everything, or go straight to the room where the unfortunate guard was. It’s amazing that Valve not only built the storage facilities, but also added a realistic ventilation system to them.
Source engine shines once again here, showing us a nice 3D skybox instead of mountains drawn on sides of skycube:
Eventually, the Silo door will open and we will find ourselves in one of the most atmospheric and interesting places in the whole game – Blast Pit.
Playtime: 16 minutes 16.71 seconds
We exit the elevator, only to hear the distinctive yelling of a scientist, who comes running out of a very small space connecting the corridor to the Silo D blast door. What was the scientist doing there? What prompted him to abruptly start yelling? This is one of the few instances in Half-Life where Valve’s trademark cinematic scripted sequences prove detrimental to the overall game fiction and narrative.
This is the High Security Materials Storage Facility, still somewhere in Sector D. How exactly all of this cargo is brought in – we don’t know, since we only really see just a few freight elevators, and only a couple of conveyor belts for cargo transportation. Although I suppose we’re not here to talk about how Black Mesa gets its supplies! Still, it is a very intricate and complex storage center, providing the player with plenty of fun and challenging gameplay arenas.
The military has already infiltrated this part of the facility, as we can see from the many laser sensors, wall-mounted tripmines and automated defense turrets. The government forces had obviously been very nearby when the accident occured, otherwise they would have not been able to dig in so quickly and so deeply. We know there was a military presence at Black Mesa (we even see an Apache gunship lifting off during Black Mesa Inbound), so perhaps there also was a military garrison of some sort.
The exact identity of these government soldiers was never really established. They seem to be from the U.S. Army (the Apache clearly says “ARMY” on its side, and the rest of the military’s vehicles are ones that are also used by the U.S. Army), but they might also be Navy SEALs (they use MP5s, and the Half-Life manual calls the in-game MP5 a “Navy SEAL SMG”). Still, there’s no reason why the Navy or the Marines would be involved in an entirely land-based operation on U.S. soil, so I’d bet on the Army.
In any case, they seem to be some sort of special division, taskforce, or unit created especially for these kinds of risky, classified missions. Opposing Force tells us they are the “Hazardous Environment Combat Unit”, which makes sense and fits in quite nicely – one of Opposing Force’s few decent contributions to the Half-Life continuum and backstory, but we’ll get to that when Phillip begins playing OF.
Still, they’re not very bright. Early on, we see one of them lying dead in front of a sentry gun he may have placed himself. Later on, as we pass through the ventilation system, we overhear this infamous conversation:
This isn’t the last time we hear the true nature of these government soldiers – in Uplink, On A Rail, and Apprehension, we’ll get a real taste of just how idiotic and brutal these guys really are. But I suppose anything goes in an inter-dimensional war (similarly, I don’t think Nihilanth’s armies ever signed the Geneva convention).
They’re fairly well armed, with the aforementioned MP5 submachine guns, featuring M203 grenade launchers (although interestingly, Valve played around with the idea of arming them with the highly experimental H&K G11). But they also have SPAS-12 shotguns, MK2 grenades, the previously mentioned sentry guns and tripmines, V-22 Osprey heliplanes and extremely advanced artillery, all on their side, as well as a lot of other weaponry, tech and ordnance which we’ll get familiar with later on.
Their AI is still very sophisticated, but in this day and age, their combat tactics and strategies really do look a bit silly, particularly their habit of laying grenades at their feet in an attempt to cover a retreat. It almost never works. But fighting them is very fun and enjoyable – entire mods have been devoted exclusively to human combat with these infantry grunts, and the mechanized vehicles that will accompany them in HL1’s future chapters. “Peaces Like Us” is probably the best one, from this particular category of mods.
The very first moment we see a living soldier is also one of the most memorable scripted sequences in all of Half-Life. A scientist runs right at this lone grunt, only to be stopped cold by a burst of 9mm rounds. It’s an absolutely brilliant scene, that perfectly illustrates the whole situation in a very interesting way. You can very easily save the scientist, but it totally ruins the moment.
We eventually emerge from the storage labyrinths inside a small warehouse on the surface. At last, fresh air! It’s dusk out (who knows how long we really were down there), and we can only spend a maximum of 40 seconds on land until Gordon is forced back underground, like some sort of rat, by military artillery and a constant stream of Osprey-borne reinforcements. It’s extremely ironic – after almost two chapters of being told we need to get topside, it turns out that topside is almost as bad, if not worse than what’s down there.
After a short detour through the ventilation system, we eventually get back to where we started, and unlock the massive bulkhead door leading us to Silo D, and the unknown. “We’ve Got Hostiles” may be behind us; but it also remains before us, as its introduction of combat with human military forces is something that will remain with the Half-Life franchise, for many years to come.
Play time: 40 minutes
“..oh my goood, we’re doooomed!”
Yet another very interesting chapter with pretty cool ideas and scripts.
The layouts are nice as it’s mostly larger warehouse-style rooms, sometimes you can chose a way to move on, but usually it’s again very linear.
However it’s fun to play, also because of this is the first time we face soldiers..
Again there are some secret areas, which can be accessed when exploring the surroundings carefully.
They are not that hidden, it’s just not obvious at first how to get there.
Yet again, the direct way would save a lot of time if you only could get there quickly instead of finding an alternative route.
I remember playing that chapter the first time back in 1998 as I had Day One.
Some good mate was sitting next to me as I played and we both were just stunned about that epic piece of work Valve did back in those days.
Of course as soon as Day One was completed I wanted more! So I bought HL…
(I did buy it like three times (UK version, German version, US version) already, but I just can’t recall where all my original game CD’s went lol)
What I like most is the combination of exploration, leveldesign, combat and happenings here.
What’s new here are blue laser tripmines and red sensory lasers which active turrets. Also the MP5 can be found and used finally – hooray!
There are some other, minor new things implemented, too.
Some things are just weird again, such as some enemy placement and design.
However it’s a very good chapter and I always loved that part of HL.
The most thrilling moment is when you finally hit the surface. Fresh air (strikes!)
That’s also when music starts smashing the speakers – very cool. At the first play I tried to shoot down the Osprey with the new AR, but unfortunately we can only damage it slightly due to the lack of contact grenades – yet!
Now I just kill some grunts and going down the ladder again..
At the end, we’re at the starting point again – sounds weird, but it’s true as we can finally open the door to some hazardous part of Black Mesa…
Playtime: 15 minutes
Well it looks like the military is not coming to save us after all…
The only part of this chapter that I vividly remember is the area with the water spills next to an open elevator shaft. I remember when I was younger and new to FPS” having great difficulty getting past this part
Even today the vents section in the later part of the chapter had me confused on where I was supposed to be going. it’s also not obvious that you can drop through in the corner of the spinning blade in said vents.
Playtime: 30 minutes