Half-Life 2 Episode 2: Our Mutual Fiend

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

Filed under: Game Reviews 56 comments

The first half of this chapter consists entirely of cutscenes. Alyx is reunited with her father. We meet the grouchy and difficult Dr. Magnusson. We get to see the rocket they’ve been working on. We see Kliener again and say goodbye to Llamar his pet headcrab. Everyone chats and reminds us about the key plot points: The destroyed citadel left a big swirly beam of energy that can be opened into a super portal, allowing the Combine to invade us again, only this time they probably won’t muck about trying to subjugate us, they will probably exterminate us outright. In order to prevent the portal from opening, we have to launch this rocket so that it can emit some Macguffin rays at the swirly beam and close it forever.

We meet Uriah the Vortigaunt. Unlike all the other Vorts, he has a real name. He wears clothing.

Next we have a battle to kick the Combine out of the complex. It’s not clear at first if they somehow know about the rocket, or if they are just invading the place on general principles. It’s a pretty conventional battle. The only notable part is that we get to deal damage to an advisor for the first time. I’m not sure if the bullets truly hurt it or merely annoyed it, but in either case it flees before we can give it the beating it so richly deserves.

Once that attack is thwarted, we regroup with the others and finally get a look at that data packet we’ve been hauling around since the previous episode. It’s been a long wait, and in true Half-Life fashion the answers only lead to more questions. Here we see an explicit link between the Half-Life universe and Portal, and the characters mention Aperture Science by name. It seems Aperture lost a cargo ship ages ago – before the alien invasion – and nobody knows what became of it. Judith Mossman somehow found it embedded in the ice of Antarctica, and it seems obvious that at least part of the next episode will take us there. Eli is adamant that we destroy whatever technology is lurking there, fearing that the Combine will get it, or that it will blow up in humanity’s face if we try to use it.

Eli and Gordon are left alone for a moment, and he makes reference to “Our mutual friend” – the mysterious G-man. This is the first time in the series that anyone else seems to be aware of him. Eli seems ready to divulge more, but Dr. Magnusson barges in before he can tell us anything useful. Once again we walk away from a conversation without learning any of the key answers for which we’ve waited so long.

Speculation: While Valve hasn’t confirmed anything, pretty much everyone expects that at least part of the next game will take place in Antarctica. I think the technology Eli fears is the portal gun, and I think we’ll get to use it for a section of the game, after which we’ll be obliged to destroy it.

In a previous post someone suggested (although I can’t find the comment now) that the G-Man may end up being a sort of “good” guy, or at least an ally. He’s evil, but his purposes seem to go against the Combine. He’s saved Gordon. He saved Alyx. By doing so he’s also saved humanity. He certainly didn’t do this for humanitarian purposes. Why he’s doing it remains a mystery, but he’s clearly a being driven by pragmatic self-interest, not avarice and cruelty like the Combine. Some people have speculated that the “final” confrontation of the series will be between Gordon on the G-Man in some form, but my guess is that the G-Man will continue to nudge Gordon along until the end, and then slip away in his magic doorway once the fight is over and the Combine is defeated.

Dr. Magnusson reveals that the Combine is sending striders at the complex for the express purpose of taking out the rocket. Ok, so they do somehow know about the rocket. It’s not clear how the Combine – now cut off from their homeworld, deprived of their primary base of operations and set adrift in the wilderness – have managed to secure that information. I suppose we can assume the telepathic advisors discerned this with their mental powers. Or something.

The final set piece is huge and ambitious. We must fight waves of striders in a huge outdoor area, and must prevent any of them from getting close enough to the base to destroy the rocket silo. Towards this end, Dr. Magnusson presents us with “The Magnusphere”, a stickybomb which we can pick up with the gravity gun, place on the back of our car, drive out to a strider, and then use the gravity gun to shoot the Magnusphere at the body of a strider. Assuming we don’t miss, the sphere will stick to the surface of the beast, and then we just need to switch to some other weapon and shoot the Magnusphere to detonate it, thus destroying the strider. Oh yeah: Kill all the escorting hunters first, or they will shoot the Magnusphere out of the air before it gets near the strider.

Let us agree that this is the most inelegant and convoluted method of dispatching an enemy you could hope to come up with. I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t see NPCs dashing around with rocket launchers, which can do the job easier, faster, and with less hassle, as well as the fact that they are effective against all foes, not just striders.

Ignoring the fact that Dr. Magnusson seems to be making life hard for us on purpose, this makes for a very interesting fight. It’s quite frantic, and there is a powerful sense of tension as the striders blast the outlying buildings on the way to the silo, shrinking the area you have in which to operate, and increasing the distance you have to drive to get a new Magnusphere. It’s one of those situations where failure makes things harder and success makes things easier (Valve usually goes for the opposite) and the result is some truly chaotic, heart-pounding conflict.


From The Archives:

56 thoughts on “Half-Life 2 Episode 2: Our Mutual Fiend

  1. Shawn says:

    Blah Blah Half-Life Blah Blah. Geez, enough already.


  2. MintSkittle says:

    I’m guessing that the Borealis may have been the location of the portal facility. Those container ships are stinking huge.

  3. Eltanin says:

    @Shawn – Pipe down! Don’t you have some art to draw or something? ;)

    To give the ridiculous “Magnussphere” a little credit, at least it’s capable of downing a strider with one pistol shot as a detinator. You don’t even need to hit anywhere near the thing. Trying to take out 8 striders (or however many there were) with rockets would have been a lengthy process indeed. I appreciated the new gizmo for the new tactics which it demanded. Another strider+rocket launcher fight would have been boring. That said, I’ll acknowledge that Valve was reaching a little with this plot device.

  4. Avatar says:

    Some early failures make the last fight harder, but ironically, it gets easier if you’re really backed into a corner – or at least you don’t have to worry so much about travel and having one slip past you. You DO have some serious time pressure to worry about, though…

    I found that the hunters took entirely too long to kill conventionally. By contrast, they aren’t equipped with safety belts or crumple zones! Just plow into ’em with the car and they die in satisfying fashion. The only trick is not ramming the Strider while you’re at it – that will hurt, as you become a sitting duck for a second while you recover.

  5. RudeMorgue says:

    @MintSkittle – Not unless they planted a forest on it. And it sure wasn’t in Antarctica.

    @Shawn – Hey, I’m eager to hear Shamus’s take on the ending of Ep2, dammit!

  6. Dev Null says:

    I thought the device was hackneyed, but the battle a blast. Took me a couple of tries while I was still trying to get out and shoot the hunters, but once I realised you could just run them over the car became my favorite weapon, and it wasn’t too hard. Shame you can’t down a strider the same way, but ramming its legs was just painful.

    I assume the ending bit merits its own post? Because if you got through that with a “no comment” I’ll eat my hat.

  7. Mechboy says:

    I hate “defend X against overwhelming odds (with utterly useless allies)” missions, so I really hated the last level. I didn’t finish it, in fact, and have no plans to do so. I could stand the ant lion assault, but the Hunters just make your life miserable.

    The last level gave me flashbacks to Missile Command.

    And speaking of Hunters…well, now we see how the Combine managed to take over the entire world in a few hours. I can handle a few of them, but waves and waves of ’em is just cruel. I hope Valve doesn’t feel the need to create an even more punishing enemy for Ep 3.

  8. MintSkittle says:

    Yeah, I hated the “Strider Command” mission too. Nothing like rushing to a safehouse to grab a magnasphere only to arrive just in time to watch it get blown to pieces.

  9. wildweasel says:

    I hated the final mission so much that it was all the more satisfying to beat it. Killing the hunters with my car was good too, because it meant I wouldn’t have to waste all my SMG grenades on them. But judging which strider to make for next was difficult because it was hard to tell just how close they were to destroying a building. By the time I finished the mission, the only building I had left was the small shack near the missile base.

    (PS: Mintskittle’s Etna avatar? Awesome!)

  10. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    As for how they knew about the rocket:Well they knew it was a missile silo(not something easy to disguise),so they sent a scout party with an advisor,and a raiding party behind it.The advisor confirmed the existance of the rocket,so the striders moved in.

    As for the magnuson device vs rockets:It takes 5 direct rocket hits to down a single strider.Plus,the resistance fighters dont have the magical suit gordon has,so they die like flys.So yes,this is definitelly a better way of killing those things(well,sending dog at them would be an even better way,but he remained in the silo to “defend” it).

  11. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Oh,and btw,did anyone check if the comment about the mass anomaly is the same if you stick in the gnome,or if you close the door before llamar enters?

  12. Phlux says:

    I would say that it SEEMS like it gets harder as you continue to fail, but in fact the design of the terrain is such that as you retreat, you spend LESS time driving back and forth between “magnusphere” dispensers and your targets. If you’re holding at the saw mill, you have to drive a LOT to get all the striders as they enter.

    On the other hand, once you’re down to the base, the striders all pretty much walk right up to you, stop and pause for you to blow them up before taking out the base. And once you’re back at the base you have a friendly force with rocket launchers taking out the hunters for you.

    I thought this setpiece was ingenious. You’re rarely in any real danger of failing, yet it feels like you must go 100 mph to succeed.

    As for the G-Man: I doubt we’ll be fighting him in Episode 3, or ever for that matter. We’ll probably get to kill at least one advisor, use the portal gun, and find the fatal flaw weakness of the combine to set the stage for Half Life 3. Certainly there will be no decisive victory, and we’ll have to hurry up and wait for the next full-sized game in 2012.

  13. Davesnot says:

    uh.. shawn… Shamus doesn’t take too kindly to being told “enough already..”.. to save our leader some time I’ll let you know what he tells those of us that are mere mortals and lacking of any artistic partnership to his creations.. he says to click the back button. (grin)..

    PS.. Shawn.. great artwork!

  14. Gahaz says:

    As for the Gman. From the lines he has delivered and the way he continues to talk. I feel that Gordon is linked to the Gman in a more normal way. I think that the Gman is a sort of contractor for these people he finds can “get the job done” as he has said. That Gordon is little more than a mercenary at this point and Eli hired you out. How I don’t know. I personally am thinking that there is another race involved that want the combine to fall, and helped Eli hire you out. And now they are using the Vorts to distance you from the Gman in hopes of keeping you after the job is done.

    Sorry, I know that discussing this kind of thing is like mental masturbation. Its fun but will get us no where in the real world. Knowing Valve no one will be right. It will be something even more whacked out and silly. Like the Gman is really GOD and you have been fighting the apocolypse or something.

  15. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    If eli hired you,how come he last met gman in the black mesa?

    But sure,you are a merc.As for who hired you…Who knows?

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    I don’t know if my comment(s) was what you were thinking of specifically, Shamus, but I have recently mentioned in my weblog (http://madtinkerer.blogspot.com/2007/12/my-half-life-2-characters-rant-and-mini.html)
    that I see G Man as an ally.

    A very creepy and manipulative ally who is not to be trusted, but an ally nonetheless.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    Hmmmm… I guess the link was too long or something. Try http://madtinkerer.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to “My Half Life 2 Characters Rant”.

  18. MintSkittle says:

    I guess all we can do is prepare for unforeseen consequences.

    @ wildweasel: Thanks!

  19. thark says:

    I found the final battle unbeliavably frustrating as well. Simply didn’t have enough ammunition to take out those bloody hunter escorts fast enough–halfway through the final wave, I was completely out of ammo for pretty much everything except the shotgun, which meant I couldn’t stop them in time.

    So, I beat my head bloody against it again, and again, and again, and cursed the game thoroughly.

    Then I figured out that splatting hunters with the car was actually quite a bit more effective than I’d expected (I somewhere along the way got the impression it wouldn’t be, dunno why).

    I would, however, have to replay the entire long battle from the start to manage it reliably. Agh frustrating.

    OK, so I have myself to blame for being stupid, but still–scattering some more ammo around the place (I was able to find one set of rockets, two or three pulse rifle balls, and not much more) to make it more of an option would have been welcome. (And really, a couple of more SMG grenades would have been all I’d needed to manage it, even though it would still have been the hard way around.)

    (I’m not, it should be added, a very good fps player.)

    The ending (not going to spoil it), I dunno… a lot of people talk about how moving it was; I found it more of an “oh, I know, we MUST have a twist ending!” moment really, and anyway, by the point he says his last words to you, it’s pretty damn predictable those ARE going to be last words. Now, if he’d said it much earlier in the game, like in one of the early chapters (nevermind how to manage that), THEN it would have been a powerful moment. IMHO, of course.

  20. Neil says:

    The “moving” part was more to do with the incredible voice acting than the surprise of it, I think. And if I may split a hair, not so much a contrived twist ending as a contrived momentous one. I too saw it coming after the dialogue immediately prior, but that doesn’t detract from the wonderful execution.

  21. Gahaz says:

    You first meet Gman in Black mesa after you start winning against the aliens. I feel that was like the Gman “scouting out” new talent as it were.

    That was for Mr. Lucifer, just so you know.

  22. thark says:

    Certainly well executed, but that simply couldn’t overcome the fact that to me, it felt cheap on a conceptual level. (Again, if the foreshadowing had been placed earlier, that might have helped a great deal.)

    To be fair, I would probably have been perfectly fine with it in a movie, being the second in a trilogy and all, but when it comes to game, where I’m actively working to get stuff done, I really don’t enjoy “Oh, you thought you’d actually accomplished something? Well screw you, ha ha ha!”-type endings. (A particularly bad example from recent playing memory would be F.E.A.R. Extraction Point.)

  23. Anon says:

    They’re called “Magnusson devices,” not “Magnuspheres,” just FYI

  24. Shamus says:

    Anon: You can call it the zero-point energy field manipulator, if you really want to.

  25. Russ says:

    I enjoyed the end-fight more the 2nd or 3rd time through it (because I really wanted the “save all buildings” accomplishment) – once I realized that you could run over a Hunter with the car I got a system down:

    Get near the strider, wait for the hunters to get in front of it, ram a hunter, jump out of the car before any flechettes on it explode, grab a log with the gravity gun, use it to kill the next nearest hunter (takes 2-4 direct hits with a log/tire), if there is a 3rd hunter either use the log or get back in the car and run it down, get back in car and drive BEHIND the strider so it doesn’t shoot you, exit car, grab Magnusphere, shoot it at the strider (hit G to switch weapons while it’s still in the air), shoot it as soon as it hits. Repeat as necessary.

    I ended up having to save and reload frequently in order to learn the correct order to go after the striders in – some of them you have to roam free for a bit while you go take out the one farther away that’s about to target a building.

    And did anyone else spot the G-Man walking across the bridge where you first get your car? At the very beginning of that section, when Alyx and the Vort are talking about the car and and the sniper rifle, if you go look on the bridge you can just see him walking away from it. I zoomed in and confirmed it was the G-man. I missed it the first 2 times I played that section.

    I’ve gotten every accomplishment except the grubs (I’ve tried for it 3 times and can get all but 3). Between that and Portal I definitely feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of the Orange box. =)

  26. Miral says:

    That ending battle frustrated me so much that it finally drove me to cheat codes (specifically, increased ammo and damage), which is the first time that’s happened over both episodes. Definitely a thumbs down in my book.

  27. Kerin says:

    Re: thark: The foreshadowing started when Alyx was healed by the vortigaunts. Trust me, most of us knew from that point on.

    Shamus: The Portal universe was linked explicitly to that of Half-Life within Portal itself – Black Mesa was mentioned twice, once by GLaDOS during the ending song as well as on the projector-screen visible through a control room window.

    Additionally, the science-y element by which the satellite can be used to help close the portals was thoroughly coined, set down and used in Half-Life – it makes perfect sense here.

    Mintskittle: It’s obviously not the same location. Have you -played- Portal?

  28. MintSkittle says:

    Yes I have played portal, but I like my idea better :P

  29. Zereth says:

    “You first meet Gman in Black mesa after you start winning against the aliens. I feel that was like the Gman “scouting out” new talent as it were.”

    I’m pretty sure that the first place the G-Man shows up is during the opening train ride. He’s everywhere.

  30. Epizootic says:

    I thought this section of the game was the least fun. The hunters were a mild annoyance, the quickest way to dispatch them was to run them over, and their ability to hide and shoot every single magnusson with pinpoint accuracy was infuriating. I barely quickloaded throughout the game until then. Its not that it was too hard, its that it wasn’t FUN, and i couldn’t be bothered trekking back to the magnusson spawn points.

  31. nehumanuscrede says:

    The final level in EP2 wasn’t all that bad. Yes it took me
    several attempts at it before I was able to finish it, but
    in the grand scheme of things it really wasn’t that hard.

    For the folks who ran out of ammo. . .

    Take note of all the fallen trees / logs laying about. Great
    big logs + gravity gun = bad day for a hunter. Couple hits
    from the logs and the hunters go down for the count.

    Of course ramming em with the car at high speed works too.
    Though they are smart enough to evade / dodge the car if
    you’re not at full speed.

    It was interesting to see Aperture mentioned. Here’s hoping
    the ‘cute’ defensive turrets find their way into EP3. They
    cracked me up. . . . “Are you there ?” *gunfire erupts*

    Of course it would just be a bonus to see a cameo from the
    Weighted Companion Cube, or even GlaDos the multiple
    personality computer :)

  32. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Too bad that both were euthanasied by that murderous chell.

    Although I like alyx more than the wcc.What alyx can do for gordon,wcc will never be able to(of course,Im talking about covering fire*winkwinknudgenudge*).

  33. Phlux says:


    You stuck around for the credits didn’t you? GlaDOS is definitely “still alive”.

    Now I have that song stuck in my head again, damn you.

    The weighted companion cube on the other hand…yeah that was ice cold. I had that thing chucked into the bin before GlaDOS was even done telling me that I had to do it.

  34. Gahaz says:

    MURDERER!!!! Phlux you are a MURDERER!!!!!!

  35. Mechboy says:

    Epizootic has it right: The last level just wasn’t fun. Hugely frustrating, but not fun. Five or six striders? Ok, fine, I can deal with that. But 13? Why do you hate me, Valve?

    And how do the Hunters know to target the sphere, anyway? No matter what else is going on, who else is shooting at them, they fire everything they’ve got at the sphere you’re holding.

    This happens even if you use the “no target” cheat. You might not be a target, but something about the sphere says SHOOT ME NOW! to the Hunters.

  36. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    13 striders,huh?I never noticed.

    It was quite a battle,though.But it was fun for me.If it was on regular basis,it wouldve sucked,but an adrenaline boost once in a while suits me just fine.

    Oh yeah,I almost forgot about the still alive.Hmm…Maybe youll find the cake on the boat as well.

  37. Stark says:

    The Cake is a LIE!

  38. Fieari says:

    Man, I -loved- the last level. It was fantastic. After the initial frustration of trying to figure out how to kill hunters, and then learning you could run them over, the frantic pace of the level was -just right- for me. I got it down to a rhythm, and while none of the striders were difficult, the timing had to be well done. I beat the last wave in sight of the base, and that was an epic fight. I really loved it.

    I can understand why some wouldn’t, heck, I can even understand why some would cheat… taking out the hunters was INSANE at first. But then learning to run them over? That was FUN! Vehicular Manslaughter For The Win! I love that car.

  39. Now that I know I can run them over, I may have to play that level again.

    The level combined my least-favorite activities: Driving, using the gravity gun to fire things accurately, and being swarmed by enemies.

    Something else that annoyed me: I couldn’t even cheat my way to ease. Striders can _only_ be killed by A) 5 Rockets, or B) 1 magnusun. My mega-damage shotgun? Doesn’t do _anything_. Even multiply the rockets to do 10X as much damage didn’t get me anywhere. It wasn’t all that fun…

  40. thark says:

    If I’d realized the possibilities of vehicular hunterslaughter say half an hour earlier, I would probably have come off with an entirely different impression of the encounter, as opposed to f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-o-n (not that I’m really blaming the game for this).

    (Throwing random objects at enemies doesn’t really do it for me–I’m playing a shooter because I want to shoot at things, dammit–but your mileage will vary).


    The cake is a lie.

    (Still Alive: best damn song from a video game ev0r. First thing I did upon finishing the game was extract the tune, then proceed to listen to it probably fifty times in a couple of days…)

  41. MintSkittle says:

    @ Punning Pundit: if you don’t mind cheating, there’s always ai_disable. But then it goes from frustrating to cake(is a lie)walk.

  42. Kerin says:

    The Portal Gun isn’t the technology Eli fears, you won’t get to use the Portal Gun, and Portal didn’t take place on the Borealis.


    Seriously, it’s all. RIGHT. there.

  43. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Sure,nitroglicerin was used just in one single lab before its applied usage all over the world.Of course,there was just one laboratory doing research on improved bullets.How dare we think that portal gun was researched in more than one place?How dare we even assume that it ever went beyond prototype phase?

    Its a friking ship that teleported itself(and half the drydock)to antartic(philadelphia project anyone)!Yet we are to asume that there is no link between a hand held portal device and a giant ship teleporting portal device,both made by the same research facility?!

  44. Shamus says:

    Kerin: You just cited an opinion piece as proof. A fan-made opinion piece. That you wrote yourself. A piece that is, like your post here, needlessly rude and full of itself.

    I do enjoy musing on what may or may not take place in a future videogame. I do NOT enjoy a forum flamewar on the same topic, which is the voice you’ve adopted for your post there.

  45. Kerin says:


    While I won’t deny that I wrote it (and obviously, that it is thus an opinion piece) I take issue to your total disregard of any possible merit that it might carry on that basis. I certainly didn’t say “this is how it is, and this other person WHO IS NOT ME agrees!”

    Remember that in many cases, what is determined true comes from strength of position – it is not an act of hubris to provide one’s own in compact, discreet form.

    Specifically, I’m quite confident that (as I said) the topology of the Enrichment Center would not fit into that of an oil tanker – there are, for example, several vertical areas (the massive deep/longjump area post-test chambers, the piston room, and GLaDOS’ chamber spring immediately to mind) and most of these chambers are stacked atop one another – putting the total height much greater than that of even a large ship.

    Perhaps years of online games have deadened my senses, as I fail to see precisely what I’ve said that is offensive. The article I wrote certainly contains phrases like “kick you in the teeth” and “get over it,” but this is the sort of thing that everyone says to their friends.

    At least my friends do. Maybe I should have traded them in? :P

    The worst I said here was when I asked MintSkittle (facetiously, of course) whether (s)he had played Portal. Again, I really don’t think that I was being nasty (it helps if you read my posts in a high-pitched, silly voice) – rather, my point was that the distinctness of the Borealis from Enrichment Center seemed self-evident.

    To summarize, I’m not trying to start a flamewar, nor am I trying to flame anyone. I’m, ah – engaging in topical discourse, mister Young – and if my current behaviour is out of line as described thusly, I’ll mend my ways.

    But seriously, full of itself? Dag.

  46. Shamus says:

    Kerin: The point is taken that you can talk to your friends like that. I think the problem is when you visit the site of a stranger, it doesn’t feel like a buddy having fun with you, it feels like someone who wants to fight. If I had been familiar with your site it probably would have read differenty for me.

    But anyway…

    I agree that the enrichment center can’t be anywhere NEAR the Borealis, and certainly not inside.

    Other things prevent them from just handing Gordon the portal gun outight. The smooth plastic iPod look doesn’t meet the HL2 gritty makeshift feel. It would look silly. Portal is a bit silly, HL2 is very serious, and introducing too much Portal into HL2 would turn it into a farce. Certainly the turrets or a GlaDOS would be preposterous.

    If the “portal gun” is used in a section of the game, it would have to be an earlier, makeshift prototype. It would look like the gravity gun: Bulky, with dented metal and wires sticking out.

    And yes: They would need a larger interior space than the ship. (Maybe there is a “base” of some sort nearby, either Combine or man-made ruins.) The other way they could go is with an immobile portal device: Something you can’t carry around, but which is used to solve a puzzle in a fixed location before moving on. Certainly there is such a device at the heart of the Borealis, and I can’t imagine them not using it for a little puzzling fun.

  47. Kerin says:

    A smashed-up, dirty and duct-tape’d version the Portal gun wouldn’t be utterly at odds, but it’d be a stretch – I agree with you there, and that aspect of the stylistic reasoning missed me completely. The concept for a “base” near the Borealis makes sense, as I doubt the entire episode could be realistically staged there.

    Coincidentally, I’m pegging the odds of the helicopter being able to convey all of Gordon’s arsenal with him at slightly below 86,000 to 1 against.

    Unregistered weapons interfering with the aircraft’s stealth array, anyone?

  48. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Like I said:There couldve been many more aperture science labs dealing with portal guns.Maybe borealis was the first.

    Though if we do encounter a portal gun in EpIII,I dont see why it should be similar to gravity gun,a weapon made by rebels,from spare parts.It should be smooth like the one in portal,although probably a bit more bulky,and surelly a lot more dented,old,and with very low power.

    For example,it could have limited energy supply,like 9 portals in the whole game(it is much more interesting to have an odd number of portals),or gordon could link it with its suit and every shot would drain lets say 30 energy from it(so you have to decide if youll survive longer or get to some otherwise unreachable cache of weapons).

    But we sure are to encounter a lot of portals on that ship.Maybe not hand held,but theyll still be portal generating machines.We might even find another entrance to xen.

  49. Kerin says:

    A hard-limited and un-refillable number of portals would be an unworkable game mechanic – the player could very easily use too many portals to solve one puzzle, and not have enough to solve a later one – either making all his progress after the first puzzle part of a “dead” and unwinnable save, or relying on a G-Man endgame message (“Terminated review, cause: Failure to adequately ration resources”) with the player having no real idea what they did wrong.

    Not to mention that giving the player a gun he can only use NINE TIMES is going to piss everyone off, period. Remember how much more fun Portal got when you started being able to make portals wherever and whenever you like?

  50. MintSkittle says:

    I would like to say that I wasn’t offended by Kerin and that his/her reasoning given for not getting the portal gun and Borealis not being the portal facility are well thought out.

  51. Kerin says:

    Thanks for the pardon, Mint.

    Like I said, no offense was intended! So perhaps I have experienced some success.

  52. Daemian_Lucifer says:


    You dont have to have the portal gun as a requirment to finish the game.It could be an optional thing for solving optinal quests like reaching a huge cash of weapons,or bypassing a hard fight.Then having a limited number of shots wont matter much because you dont have to use it.Those players that have to visit every nook and crany and finish all achievments will use the portal,but they do enjoy a chalenge.Those that dont care about such stuff will play with the gun a bit,then toss it away.

    And 9 was just a suggestion,not a “It must have exactly 9 shots”.It was inspired by jumping scrolls from morrowind.The joke there was cruel,but it was funny nevertheless.

  53. Joshua says:

    I also initially thought the last battle was pretty frustrating, but then learned it’s *not* as hard as you tend to think(although still hard). You just need to give up a few (reasonable) assumptions first:

    1: Taking out the hunters will be a drain on your weapons.
    -You can run over them with your car, and it’s usually not too hard to get 1 of the 2 Hunter escorts this way. For the ones that dodge and/or are near trees/rocks, you can switch to several good weapons- Crossbow, Magnum, or the pulse rifle energy ball(kills them in one hit!) As someone mentioned, you can also use logs as a shield, bludgeoning weapon but the weight of the logs means you have to get closer to them to pick them up. You can restock some of your ammo at the bases, including rockets, energy balls and crossbow ammo.

    2. You have to strictly ration your ammo and health.
    -Although this really doesn’t happen anywhere else in the series, if you pick up items at the bases and go off elsewhere, they restock! This means that you can drive off to kill the hunters and striders by the watermill, then race back to the buildings to re-energize and get a new magnusson device. One of the buildings near the silo also has spare energy balls.

    3. While you’re focusing on the Hunters, the striders will annihilate you.
    -The Striders pretty much only pay attention to you if you’re in front of them. The AI is set up to go for the base first, so if you get behind the strider or most to its side, it will ignore you and keep going. That way, you can concentrate on the Hunter Escorts, and then get an easy kill on the strider from behind once they’re down.

    This battle is cool because it gives you a plethora of different strategies to win, although I’ll agree with everyone else the Magnusson Devices are awfully lame story-wise. Why not just get a remote detonator, like you had with the satchel charges in HL 1(I miss them). What I don’t like is having to develop and work with totally new tools and moves at the endgame(a problem with most of the HL games). The end should be more of a culmination of the rest of the skills used in the game(although this final fight is better in this regard than the super Gravity Gun of HL2, or the light guns/sniper combo of Opposing Force).

  54. sebcw1204 says:

    another reply years after the post, but i have to chime in with my own crackpot theory about the G-Man. i think he is some sort of interdimensional PMC agent, and gordon is hired out to the highest bidder (this is alluded to by Breen in half life 2) or deployed to further his company’s agenda. they might also have some ability to view but not travel along different timelines, choosing the best place and…time… to drop Freeman into.

  55. Todd says:

    Definitely a heart pounding final level… I spent about 20 minutes so far on it, got up to the final wave, but haven’t beat it yet. Have to give it another crack when I have more time, but it’s definitely stressful and fun at the same time! I’d love to see the portal gun implemented into some of the gameplay in the next half life installment.

  56. Dragomok says:

    …Wait, there was an advisor at Silo Two?

    Huh. I knew I was doing badly at that part, but I didn’t know I was doing that badly.

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