Another Saturday means another round of Half-Life. I'm getting close to the end, I can feel it. Last week I soldiered on through two levels, but this week I played the longest and by far the hardest level I’ve experienced thus far. But it was also one of my favorite. The level provides a lot of action and shows off a lot of the Black Mesa Research Facility like we've never seen it before.


Surface Tension

After escaping, Gordon eventually winds up in a secret part of the facility where he discovers that scientists had been "collecting" specimens from Xen long before this whole mess occurred. In it, Gordon Freeman continues to rearm himself against the HECU, and rejoins the battle against these enemies. Gordon also encounters the alien military units, the Alien Grunts, and he finds one of the most powerful weapons in the Half-Life universe, the Tau Cannon, after a security guard accidentally blows himself, a scientist, and a barricade up by overcharging it. Soon, he heads outside to search for the Lambda Complex. (SOURCE: Half-Life Wiki)

Surface Tension was a brutal level, with armor, attack helicopters and aliens - you pretty much go up against the worst of everything. At the start of the level, you have this persistent and pesky attack helicopter firing machine guns and rockets at you. You find a drainage ditch you can use for cover, but it always seems to lead you to an outdoor area where the helo resumes its hunt.

About the time you lose the helo, you discover tanks that shoot at you. Thankfully, the tanks are stationary...but their guns work, and are quite powerful. I never understood why I couldn't just hijack a tank, bust through all of the gates and escape that way - but I assure you I tried it and it doesn't work.

You face a number of obstacles along the way as Black Mesa comes under attack. During some parts of the level you see jets flying overhead launching airstrikes against the facility. You encounter more soldiers than what you're used to - including a number of snipers. You also have to navigate the rubble of the facility in a number of different areas, but the cool thing is you get to use some heavy weapons to blow open some gates and shoot the big bad enemies that often come pouring out.

Perhaps the coolest part of the level is when you get to a part near the end of the level where you intercept a radio transmission indicating everybody is pulling out. You have the opportunity to coordinate some final airstrikes using this neato targeting system. Of course I landed a round right on my head the first time. But I quickly mastered the fine art of planning a tactical airstrike.

The best thing about this level is getting to the end and seeing the Lamdba step closer.

As in previous episodes, I've taken a number of images that tell the story far better than me rattling on about it. Take a peek...

(Remember when I wrote about the dumb thing A.I. bad guys do - fuel storage next to their bunker.)


(This attack helicopter is persistent, I'll give him that.)


(Note to self - turn the turbines off before opening the grill and swimming into the shaft.)


(I have no idea what in the world this thing is - some variant of the Loch Ness Monster?)


(Just when I thought I was safe, I hear the helicopter again.)


(That's never a good sight?)


(Look, a clue!)


(As if the attack helicopter wasn't enough.)


(More plumbing controls...sigh.)


(Phew, the manhole cover is open...for now.)


(Watch your step!)


(Dang. I hope the crowbar will break through the grating.)


(What a spectacular view, despite the enemy soldiers firing at me.)

(I see you down there. Blam.)


(The Black Mesa Research Facility industrial strength garbage disposal.)


(A precarious path.)


(A tank...they have a tank?)


(They have two tanks!)


(They HAD two tanks!)


(What in the wide world of sports is that?)


(This Barney was alive and begging for help. As I approached, a sniper took him out. Dang!)


(This one didn't do much better...he was still steaming.)


(High tech weaponry?)


(Aw man, another Barney down. A turret in the back of the truck got him.)


(I don't  think that is a kite.)


(Phew. Thankfully I was able to keep this one alive so he could let me in the supply room.)


(This took me far too many attempts before I finally got it.)


(These 2 soldiers zip lined in from this Osprey. Told you I had my hands full.)


(I was in a ventilation duct when a soldier started shooting it up.)


(The ultimate door key.)


( A third tank, but this one isn't going anywhere.)


(The bigger they are the more powerful they tend to be.)


(Looks like Ace13 was driving this one.)


(Pick a spot, any spot...and we'll blow it up with an airstrike.)


(There it is! Finally. The Lambda Complex. Can't wait for next weekend.)


Previous Episodes:

Blog 1

Blog 2

Blog 3

Blog 4

Blog 5


Blog 6

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the rest of it.