I question this every time I start to think about Half-Life. It’s one of my top 10 favorite titles of all time and yet, I don’t know what will be the fate of Gordon, Alex and of all mankind. Half-Life tells a story like no other, in a way that makes you care for what is unfolding. If you have never played Half-Life, the story can get a bit complicated.
The Half-Life series begins in the early 21st century, at the fictional Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico. Gordon Freeman, a recently employed theoretical physicist, is involved in an experiment analyzing an unknown crystalline artifact; however, when the anti-mass spectrometer beam contacts the crystal, it opens a dimensional rift between Black Mesa and another world called Xen, causing monsters to swarm Black Mesa and kill many of the facility’s personnel. Attempts by the Black Mesa personnel to close the rift are unsuccessful, leading to a Marine Recon unit being sent in to silence the facility, including any survivors from the science team. Freeman fights through the facility to meet with several other scientists, who decide to travel to the alien dimension to stop the aliens. On Xen, Freeman eliminates the alien “leader” and is confronted by the G-Man, who offers Freeman employment before putting him into stasis. Back in Black Mesa, a second alien race begins an invasion, but is stopped when a Marine corporal, Adrian Shephard, collapses its portal in the facility. The G-Man then destroys Black Mesa with a nuclear warhead, and detains Shephard in stasis.
Nearly twenty years later, the G-Man brings Freeman out of stasis and inserts him into a dystopian Earth ruled by the Combine, a faction consisting of human and alien members, that used the dimensional rift caused at Black Mesa to conquer Earth in the interim. In the Eastern European settlement City 17, Freeman meets surviving members of the Black Mesa incident, including Isaac Kleiner, Barney Calhoun, Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx Vance, and aids in the human resistance against Combine rule. The Xen aliens, the Vortigaunts, who have been enslaved by the Combine, also assist the resistance. When his presence is made known to former Black Mesa administrator and Combine spokesman Wallace Breen, Freeman becomes a prime target for the Combine forces. Eventually, Freeman sparks a full revolution amongst the human citizens. Eli Vance and his daughter are subsequently captured by the Combine, and Freeman helps the resistance forces attack the Combine’s Citadel to rescue them. Breen attempts to flee in a teleporter, but is presumed dead after Freeman destroys the dark energy reactor at the Citadel’s top.
The G-Man then arrives to extract Freeman before he is engulfed in the explosion, but is interrupted when Vortigaunts liberate Freeman from stasis and place both him and Alyx Vance at the bottom of the Citadel. The two then attempt to stabilize the Combine’s primary reactor while the citizens evacuate the city, discovering that the Combine are attempting to destroy the reactor to call for reinforcements from the Combine’s native dimension. After downloading critical data, they move through the war-torn city to the train station to take the last train out of the city. The Combine then destroy the reactor and thus both the Citadel and the city; the resulting explosion causes the train to derail.
Freeman awakens in one of the wrecked train cars with Alyx outside, where a forming superportal is visible from where the Citadel used to stand. They begin a journey through the White Forest to a resistance-controlled missile base in the nearby mountains. Along the way, Freeman and Alyx are ambushed and Alyx is severely injured. However, a group of Vortigaunts are able to heal her. During the ritual to heal Alyx, Freeman is briefly spoken to by the G-Man in a hallucination-like vision, indicating that he has caught up to Freeman again. They are able to reach the resistance base and deliver the data, which contains the codes to destroy the portal as well as information on the Borealis, an enigmatic research vessel operated by Black Mesa’s rival, Aperture Science. The base then launches a satellite that is able to shut down the superportal, cutting off the Combine from outside assistance. However, as Alyx and Freeman prepare to travel to the Arctic and investigate the Borealis, they are attacked by Combine Advisors, who kill Eli Vance before being driven off by Alyx’s pet robot, Dog.
Half-Life is one spectacular story but it’s starting to look like we will never see the end. This is a battle cry in hopes that Valve could soon give us some closure on the epic saga that is Half-Life.
- Half-Life reveal teased in Valve’s Portal ARG? Clues to appear in The Orange Box? Here’s the pant-wetting evidence (Half-Life 2: Episode Two) (gamesradar.com)
- Half Life: Portal to Black Mesa parody makes fun of Freeman (joystiq.com)
- Actor Who Portrayed Half-Life 2’s Villain is Dead at 79 [Rip] (kotaku.com)