Copyright (C) 2008 Jimmy Breck-McKye.
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...Half life weapon guide, version 1.0
Copyright Jimmy Breck-McKye (2008)
Each section is followed by a three-letter keyword enclosed in square
brackets. Enter this keyword into a text-locator feature (Ctrl+F
on most text viewers) and you'll be directed straight to the
- Copyright / disclaimer [cpy]
- About this guide [abt]
- The weapons [wns]
- Crowbar [CRW]
- Glock 9mm [GLK]
- .357 Colt 
- MP-5 Assault Rifle [MP5]
- Shotgun [SGN]
- Crossbow [XBW]
- Rocket launcher [RPG]
- Tau Cannon [TAU]
- Gluon Gun [GLU]
- Hivehand [HNT]
- Hand grenades [HGD]
- Satchel Charges [STL]
- Snarks [SNK]
- Tripmines [MIN]
- Single player weapon [loc]
- Underwater [uwf]
- Frequently Asked [FAQ]
- Contacting me [cme]
- Version history [ver]
- Credits [cts]
Copyright and [cpy]
Firstly: I, the author, have used the best effort in preparing this FAQ. I
make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or
completeness of the contents of this FAQ and specifically disclaim any implied
warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. There are
no warranties which extend beyond the descriptions contained in this
paragraph. No warranty may be created or extended by anyone. The accuracy
and completeness of the information provided herein and the opinions stated
herein are not guaranteed or warranted to produce any particular results, and
the advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every
individual. I shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other
commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental,
consequential, or other damages.
I, Jimmy Breck-McKye, the author, claim no responsibility what so ever, so if
anything from this FAQ corrupts, damages, screws up, creates faults with, or
does anything else that harms your computer, creating data lost, or harms
anything to do with you or with the world, I claim no responsibility!
Secondly: This guide is written and compiled by Jimmy Breck-McKye, copyright
You may not copy or reproduce ANY PART of it under any circumstances except
for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise
distributed publicly without advance written permission. Use of the guide on
any other web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited,
and a violation of copyright.
Please ask for permission by contacting the author first before using this
document for any reason, chances are I've no problem of giving permission as
long as I receive the proper credit.
About this [abt]
Why a Half-Life guide in 2008? Well, it remains a popular multiplayer game,
and regardless of its age still stands as one of the best First Person
Shooters out there, surpassing even current releases in terms of level
design, scripted sequence, and, of course, armory. Half-life deserves to
be played to death even ten years after its release, and besides which, the
whole HL/Opposing Force/Blue Shift package now comes in one cheap bundle
thanks to STEAM.
Otherwise, I've been looking to get round to writing an FAQ of some sort
for some time - and I thought that I'd make my first project a relatively
small one on something I wouldn't have to do much research on, a game I've
returned to over and over in the last ten years. Besides, I'm keen to try and
finally wipe out misguided opinions in the .357 vs Crossbow debate, and why
not inform folks whilst doing so? :)
Anyway, this guide is just that: a guide. Though I've striven for complete
accuracy in every area, there are portions of this guide that will always be
tainted by my own subjectivity, such is the nature of its contents (namely,
recommended usages for each particular piece. Ultimately you have to adapt
the weapons to the style of play you feel most comfortable with, and enjoy
With that out of the way, let's get started.
The weapons [wns]
Primary fire: Swings the crowbar. Hold down fire to quickly thrash it about.
Secondary fire: --
The very first weapon you come across, but not one to be forgotten. Whilst
useless in any sort of ranged combat, the crowbar is excellent for dispatching
a few very specific enemies and, more importantly, smashes crates and the like
without using any valuable ammunition. Though not especially powerful, Gordon
can swing the crowbar with surprising speed.
Used properly, the crowbar is an excellent means of dispatching weak, agile
enemies that rely on close range attacks - especially when they can only
approach from one direction. Headcrab infested air ducts, or, worse, snark
infested tunnels, are made somewhat easier to deal with by the crowbar.
I also tend to use this weapon when dealing with the baby headcrabs on xen,
so hard to hit with any gun through their sheer speed.
Some also swear by using it as an ammo-less alternative for dealing with
barnacles: swing the crowbar when close to the creatures mouth, but before its
bite connects, and you should destroy it. Keep in mind that this means you'll
take falling damage if the barnacles is especially high, though.
Never use it...
Any other time - enemies with ranged attacks, or enemies that fight toe-to-toe
yet can sustain several blows from a crowbar will easily dispatch you. Zombies
can be bludgeoned to death, certainly, but the tactic is to secure a short
volley of hits to the creature's head before quickly backpedaling - or else its
powerful claws will connect.
It's quite common in multiplayer games to see players sneaking up on enemies
(especially stationary opponents) before mincing them with a volley of crowbar
hits. Certainly, the crowbar does a great deal of damage in a short space of
time, and anyone successful in closing in on their opponent will often come out
the victor whilst using the bar. But ultimately this remains more a tactic of
humiliation than a sensible means of play - there are better ways of dealing
similar or greater damage from range, and to attempt a melee attack in any other
circumstance is suicide.
9mm glock [GLK]
Semi-automatic fire with significant accuracy and good range. Hold down fire
for a volley of shots. Deals 8 damage per hit.
Quicker (though by no means 'rapid') fire at the cost of accuracy.
Ammo: Both modes use the same 17-round clips that are scattered freely through
the facility and the hands of dead security guards. Reloading is quick.
Be aware also that this weapon shares ammunition with the assault rifle.
The glock is one of the very first weapons you'll handle, and though you quickly
acquire more powerful means of dispatching enemies, don't forget about the
trusty 9mm. Besides being one of the few weapons that can fire underwater, the
pistol is reasonably quick and, more importantly, accurate. In long-range
situations where cover is easily available, consider choosing the pistol to
As well as being handy for picking off stationary barnacles, in a pinch it's
also useful against the flying alien controllers that appear towards the close
of the game when at *especially* long distances- hard to hit, mobile but weak,
the pistol can prove more effective against them than slower and more powerful
long-range weapons with more expensive munitions (such as the revolver or
crossbow). Use it to detonate tripmines from a distance, and to deal with
houndeyes and zombies at medium range.
Never use it...:
In all other situations, however, the pistol simply doesn't have the stopping
power to deal with enemies before they manage to injure you. Enemies whose
attacks are hard to evade (human grunts) or situations where cover is scarce
demand weapons with sheer stopping power - the pistol is absolutely not the
tool for this job. If an alien controller is close by, I wouldn't even think
of using the glock.
The pistol is often the default spawn weapon. If you're confident and a good
aim, a succession of headshots at long range can stand as a reasonable offense,
if there are no other alternatives. As a rule, however, you should equip
yourself with whatever else is around before entering the foray.
Colt .357 
Primary fire: Semi-automatic fire of a single round that delivers 40 damage.
Secondary fire: In multiplayer, secondary fire activates a small scope that
provides a zoomed view for fine aiming.
Ammo: The gun can be loaded with up to 6 rounds, out of a maximum stock of 36.
Ammunition is relatively scarce.
This hand-cannon is difficult to dislike - aesthetically as much as tactically.
A chunky, masculine weapon with an excellent feel, but also an extremely
powerful firearm that, with careful aim, can take down practically anything.
Remember that a headshot triples weapon damage - that means that a .357 round
through some poor soul's skull deals a massive 120 damage - more than a direct
explosive hit. Only the bosses, the dreaded ichthyosaur and the bullet-immune
opponents can survive that, even on Hard mode.
Of course, the .357 does have its own drawbacks - a low firing rate and
reasonable reload time counter its massive power, but, ultimately this
remains my favourite piece of half-life weaponry. Unlike the crossbow, whose
arrows take time to reach their target, the .357 simply involves pointing
the gun at something you want dead, and then firing.
The Colt is well suited to tackling alien grunts and human marines.
Unless it is particularly agile and difficult to hit, most things are a great
deal less threatening with a .357 by your side.
Never use it...
On common or weak enemies, such as headcrabs or houndeyes. Evasive enemies
such as snarks should never be approached with the Colt: not only are they
exceptionally weak, but the low firing rate and considerable reload time put
a player at serious risk if they don't secure hits. But most importantly of
all, .357 ammo is too scarce to use on frail creatures.
Multiplayer: The Colt requires considerable accuracy to be effective - as
mentioned above and in the shotgun overview, weapons with long reload times
and slow firing rates leave their users vulnerable should their accuracy be
poor, (and also, should their ping be high). Without a decent connection the
slight lag makes aiming considerably more difficult. Otherwise, though, the
Colt is a great way to conduct combat at long range, and a good choice in most
MP-5 Submachinegun [MP5]
Primary fire: Automatic fire of 9mm rounds that deal 5 damage per bullet. Fair
Secondary fire: Fires grenades that detonate on impact, in an arc. Each
grenadedeals potentially 100 damage with a direct hit, with splash damage.
Ammo: The MP-5 uses 50 round magazines, commonly found in the hands of
deceasedhuman grunts, with a maximum stock of 250 bullets. Secondary fire
employs up to ten grenades specific to the weapon (*not* hand grenades)
and not commonly available.
A nice piece of equipment that you'll turn to throughout the course of the
game, the MP-5 is well suited to a variety of situations and enemies.
Though individual rounds do little damage, and at long range the weapon is a
little inaccurate, a steady stream of well-aimed bullets can eliminate many
creatures, both human and alien, especially when the chest and head areas are
targeted. Secondary fire is handy for terminating groups of enemies, grunts
behind cover, and clearing out rooms, but also on occasions that demand
explosive damage to particularly strong individuals. However, be aware that
the MP5 grenades, though not rare, should never be fired without good
Specific enemies: Use against soldiers, both human and xenian, and a spread
of fully automatic fire can help eliminate snarks and baby heacrabs. Primary
ammunition is abundant, and as such this weapon makes a nice 'default' weapon
for dealing with the majority of Black Mesa's occupants.
Never use it...
There are few situation where using the MP-5 would be an especially bad idea,
though there are plenty of circumstances where other weapons would be more
appropriate. At close ranges, you may find that the assault rifle doesn't pack
the punch necessary to take something down particularly quickly. At long
ranges it isn't as accurate as some of its rivals - use the crossbow, Colt,
or possibly Glock for high precision at these distances.
This will serve you well in most situations - try to predict an opponent's
movements when launching grenades, and remember to focus your fire on an enemy
rather than randomly spraying fire. Bullets are a little weak, so should an
enemy close in on you you may fare better with the shotgun. This weapon is
also great for covering yourself when fleeing - firing back whilst
backpedaling is a great way to make your retreat safer.
Primary fire: Fires a single shell. There is a noticeable delay before
another shot can be fired.
Secondary fire: Fires two shells in rapid succession. The firing delay is
Ammo: Up to 8 rounds can be loaded into the weapon, with a maximum of 125
rounds in stock. Reloading is slow, but can be interrupted simply by firing -
handy to know in an emergency.
Common fare in first person shooters, the half-life shotgun does not radically
diverge from its predecessors in Doom and the like. As you would expect, the
weapon is more accurate and powerful at close ranges, and possesses a low
firing rate. Rounds pack a considerable punch, as each shell contains six
pieces of shot, dealing 8 damage each, meaning a maximum of 48 damage, or 96
in secondary fire mode. A headshot at mid to short range will often prove
fatal. However, as the distance between the user and target increases,
the shotgun's effectiveness falls rapidly.
A blast to the chest will deal with zombies, and a shot to the head-neck-chest
area will usually dispatch a human opponent. The shotgun is also well suited
to dealing with bullsquids and vortiguants, so fire away.
Never use it...
Against particularly agile enemies (unless you have remarkable confidence in
your accuracy), or at long range. You'll just be wasting your ammo. And with
a long reload time, you'll be putting yourself in danger, too.
The shotgun has always been a popular choice in multiplayer - easy to use,
strong, and familiar, you'll often see it equipped. Of course, it also helps
that with good aim the shotgun is deadly. Remember, though, that reloading
can be time-consuming, so be sure that cover is available when the weapon is
empty, and that you don't miss too often, else you'll be put at serious
Primary fire: Fire a bolt, delivering 50 damage. Projectiles take a little
time to reach their destination. Bolts are explosive in multiplayer.
Secondary fire: Use the scope. In zoomed mode, the weapon no longer fires
The closest Half-Life has to a sniper rifle, the crossbow is well built
for stealthily taking out enemies, not least stationary ones, from afar.
A quiet weapon, but one whose projectiles make their own distinct noise,
this equipment is possibly far better suited to keeping your position
unknown than hiding its own presence. It's powerful, too, with a potential
150 damage should you pull off a headshot successfully. No wonder it's a
Bolts take a little time to reach their targets - to aim effectively,
you must aim in front of his or her position as they run, and try to
predict their movement. If they run in anything other than a straight
line, however, prediction becomes a great deal more difficult.
Reloading, and the pause between firing loaded bolts, is rather slow -
be sure to have some sort of protection to fall upon between shots.
In multiplayer mode, bolts fired in primary mode are explosive, though sport
a disappointing splash damage range.
Please see the FAQ below for an extended discussion on the inferiority of
the bow to the Colt for sniping purposes.
Specific enemies: I choose the bow for dealing with stronger opponents,
such as grunts (either human or alien) at long ranges. The crossbow is
great for dealing with human enemies in stationary positions without
revealing your own location. This is *the* weapon for dealing with
Never use it...
Bolts need to be saved for sturdier opponents, and those easier to hit,
due to the weapon's lack of speed and the finite speed of the projectile.
Some enemies can quickly close in if not dispatched quickly, such as a
charging bullsquid or alerted soldiers, so the potential exposure of
the weapon's long reloading time makes it a poor choice for these
Rocket Launcher [RPG]
Primary fire: Launches a rocket propelled grenade towards a laser 'painted'
position, that moves in a straight line if no laser 'painted' target is
available. A direct hit from a rocket delivers 100 damage, with a
considerable splash-damage radius.
Secondary fire: Turns on or off the RPG's own laser guidance system,
illuminating a position and marking it as a target.
Ammo: The weapon holds one rocket, with a maximum of five ammo in
reserve (more in multiplayer). Ammo is rare.
What FPS wouldn't have a rocket launcher of some description? Half-life
follows the tradition, but also breaks the mould with this adaptation of
the shooter classic. Missiles can be laser guided using a red 'pointer'
projected out of the weapon itself, or 'blind-fired' in a straight line
if the guidance system is switched off. This means that you can steer
rockets to connect with moving targets, or twist them around obstacles
or even, with a deft flick of the mouse, sharp turns. This takes a lot of
practice, so I'd recommend trying it out in a map like killbox, or hosting
your own empty server to get the hang of it.
Be aware that rockets can't recognize their parent weapon's laser points
(i.e. they can't tell one laser painter from another), and it is possible
to actually commandeer an opponent's missile. This takes possibly more luck
than skill, but seems to depend on placing your own pointer such that it is
as close to the center of the missile's 'vision' as possible, if that makes
sense. However, I've only very rarely been able to pull it off, and can't
yet confirm a method for reliably doing this.
Turning the laser off can be helpful at times - you can't turn and flee
whilst aiming a missile, and this often leaves you exposed to enemy fire.
Bear this in mind.
Oh, and another thing: reloading is slow. Be sure to have some
available between shots.
This is the ideal weapon for taking out Apache helicopters and tanks,
which is presumably why RPG ammo is often found conveniently close to
such vehicles. On occasion you might fire this against a large group of
alien grunts, but otherwise, save it for special occasions and particularly
meaty enemies. Be aware also that most Gargantuas are to be killed by some
exploit of the level (the air strikes in Surface Tension) rather than by
Never use it...
Unless dealing with a slow or flying enemy, always aim at the floor under
your opponent's feet or a wall running by him. Don't fire directly at him
(or her). That way, should you miss, you'll still deal major splash damage,
rather than seeing it sail away harmlessly (exposing you during the RPG's
long reloading period). Don't waste this on weak or nimble flying enemies
(e.g. alien controllers), nor on enemies that can be dispatched with weapons
dependent on more common ammunition.
I shouldn't need to mention this, but at close quarters a rocket can deal
considerable splash damage to *you*.
The RPG is a common weapon in deathmatch, thanks to sheer power and
relative ease of use. Fragging with splash damage is often reasonably easy,
especially from an elevated position. That said, reloading is time consuming
and the rockets leave a stark white trail of smoke in their path, pointing
towards the position from where the shell was fired - so after the rocket
connects, beat feet, and quickly.
The laser 'painter' is visible from quite a distance, so you may prefer to
keep it switched off before taking aim in order to keep your presence unknown.
I would really recommend reading SBolle's guide on Half-Life multiplayer for
both weapon tips and advice on how to use the RPG effectively.
Tau Cannon [TAU]
Primary fire: Rapidly shoots a series of particle beams that inflict 20 damage
per hit. Uses 2 ammo per shot.
Secondary fire: Hold down secondary fire to charge up the weapon, and then
release the button to discharge all stored energy in a single high power beam
yhat penetrates certain surfaces to create a deadly explosion of high-energy
leptons at the exit point. In single player, over-charging results in an
explosion that damages the user: once fully charged, the player only has a
few seconds available to discharge the gun without a potentially fatal
On occasion the secondary beam does not penetrate a surface, but bounces off
it. Nevertheless, this can still be exploited to create a deadly ricochet
Ammo: Holds up to 100 depleted uranium pellets, shared with the gluon gun.
This weapon does not use magazines, rather the entire munition stock feeds
directly into the weapon.
Black Mesa's role as a military research center produced this, a prototype
for the assault rifle of the future. Firing exotic subatomic particles,
the Tau cannon (sometimes called the 'Gauss gun') looks as odd and unfamiliar
as its high-tech mechanism, and works rather differently to most conventional
weapons you'll have played with before too.
Primary fire is inaccurate, but can eliminate enemies quickly. Secondary
fire, however, provides the most interesting uses. A charged up tau cannon
fires a single, accurate beam with power proportional to the amount of
energy stored up in the weapon. This weapon passes through walls to generate
an explosion of energy on the other side of the object, dealing significant
damage to anything unfortunate enough to be within radius.
In multiplayer comes another interesting feature of this weapon's charge mode.
The overload explosion is gone, to be replaced with a different drawback,
a particularly potent recoil. I say 'drawback', but in actuality this recoil
can be exploited for the purposes of 'gauss jumping'. Point the weapon towards
the floor at one's feet, and the recoil now shoots the player far into the air,
further if timed with a jump. Though there's a real risk of taking damage
on landing, with practice this is a great way to reach areas either difficult
or even impossible to reach by conventional means.
Depleted uranium isn't too cheap, and primary fire is notoriously inaccurate,
so save the tau cannon for charged shots at particularly formidable targets.
Consider firing them at tanks and military vehicles, or the occasional alien
grunt. Some people swear by the gauss gun for dispatching the flying alien
controllers that appear in the later chapters of the game: if you've the
accuracy, then do so, by all means. Otherwise keep the ammo for the gluon gun.
Never use it...
As mentioned, ammunition needs to be saved for worthy opponents, and primary
fire is not recommended excepting circumstances where a large portion of beams
will connect (closer distances, or very large targets). This weapon is better
used against slower targets that are easier to hit: the tau's secondary fire
A common choice in multiplayer, the gauss gun is recommended when latency /
ping can be kept to a minimum. Picking people off at long range never tires,
and the introduction of the tau brings something totally new to bear when
your rivals attempt to take cover. Conversely, it can often be safer when
tackling a tau user to stay in the open: it's a great deal easier to hit
someone with the particle explosion than with the focused beam.
Gluon gun [GLU]
Primary fire: Fires the beam. Each unit of ammunition used deals 14 damage.
The beam possesses excellent accuracy, and ignores armour.
Secondary fire: n/a
Ammo: Like the tau cannon, this weapon uses depleted uranium pellets fed
directly from stock, rather than held in a magazine.
Possibly the closest half-life has to an 'ultimate weapon', the gluon gun
(AKA 'Egon gun')apparently disrupts the fundamental structure of matter,
reducing targets to a messy mass of mincemeat. 14 damage per hit may not
sound impressive, but the gluon gun fires its continuous vortex of energy
at a frenzied rate, destroying most targets in moments. Of course, this also
means that the gluon gun eats through valuable ammo at dramatic speed.
This means that accuracy is key - never spray egon gun beams randomly, but
rather pinpoint your fire.
Save the gluon gun for special occasions, where a large number of powerful
enemies need to be dispatched quickly. Large groups of alien grunts might
qualify, but I'd certainly recommend using this device during the indoor
portions of 'Interloper', especially the final 'spiral staircase' room.
You'll know it when you get there.
Never use it:
There's nothing, except the Gargantua and military vehicles, that stands
up to the gluon gun. Just don't waste ammo on houndeyes or headcrabs.
Though not necessarily a match winner, the gluon gun nevertheless remains a
lusted-after piece of equipment in most games. For that reason alone you'll
often draw fire, though of course it doesn't help that most players will
(rightly) regard you as a real threat. Still, with the gluon gun, it doesn't
especially matter - with good aim, any opponent can be killed in a few moments,
and as weapon accuracy remains constant regardless of range this is probably
one of the best weapons for a variety of circumstances. The only precaution
I give is to not eat through ammo without good reason.
Primary fire: Launches an insect, in semi-automatic manner, that possesses the
capacity to hone in on enemies. Each hornet deals 8 damage.
Secondary fire: Rapidly fires the hornets without honing abilities.
Ammo: The hivehand holds up to 8 bees, that regenerate whilst the weapon is
not being used.
This strange bio-mechanical device (also referred to as the 'hornetgun') is
the principal weapon of the alien grunts, who seem to have hivehands actually
grafted onto their arms. In a hornetgun standoff, unfortunately, it seems to
work better at annoying you than at mounting an effective offense against
*them*. Whilst the honing ability appears impressive, the rate of fire and
actual power of this weapon is somewhat less so, and munitions don't
regenerate nearly as quickly as you'd like. It is, however, one of the few
firearms that works underwater, though by the time you have it there are few
instances where you'll need to go swimming around.
A neat trick I once heard involved using primary fire to determine if an
enemy waited around a corner - the hornets would swerve to hit their target,
and even if they did not connect, your opponent would lose the advantage of
Specific enemies: the honing abilities make this a decent means of dealing
with the evasive baby headcrabs and snarks. Otherwise, I would rarely use
Never use it...
Unless you run out of ammunition, I just wouldn't otherwise use the hivehand.
If you must choose it, be sure to have some sort of cover available to protect
you whilst ammo regenerates.
Multiplayer: Some high-ping players may find the hornetgun useful when their
latency makes aiming difficult. Alternatively, it can be used to goad enemies
out of cover, should they be hiding behind a wall or in a bunker. Otherwise,
though, stick to more powerful pieces of equipment.
Primary fire: Throws a grenade - press fire to release the pin, and
release fire to throw the device. Be aware that should the timer expire
whilst the grenade is held, it will explode the moment Gordon releases it.
The fuse lasts five seconds, and a direct hit deals 100 splash damage.
Throwing distance is dependent on the angle of launching.
Secondary fire: n/a
Ammo: Up to ten grenades can be held, to be thrown individually. The stock
of hand grenades is *not* shared with the supply of MP-5 grenades.
Chances are that you'll already be familiar with the essential principle
of a hand grenade - a timed explosive that can be thrown. As you would
expect, grenades can bounce off walls, but in Half-Life tend not to roll
once they have touched a floor. This means that, with a little practice,
they can be used with surprising accuracy. A handy feature of the grenades
is that they can be held in their armed state before throwing - meaning
that a proficient user can time the detonation to occur the moment the
grenade lands, or whilst still in the air, should he or she choose it.
This tactic is often called 'cooking' a grenade.
Be aware that many enemies, especially humans, can hear grenades on landing,
and tend to flee.
Grenades are great for groups of reasonably powerful enemies, such as
grunts or vortiguants, or even a particularly large cluster of weak creatures.
Though humans tend to flee grenades, you can exploit this to flush soldiers
out of cover . Chuck grenades into manned machinegun nests, or at automated
turrets to silence them permanently. They are also useful for distracting the
massive tentacle organism that inhabits the Blast Pit chapter.
The fact that they travel in an arc, in essence, means that they can be
thrown above cover - useful when dealing with the snipers in Surface
Never use it:
In enclosed spaces, there's a real risk of dealing damage to yourself,
as there is with any explosive device. Grenades can only be thrown a
shortish distance; they are not suitable for long-range exchanges of
fire (as you would expect). Using this weapon is mostly common sense,
Hand grenades aren't especially a common sight in multiplayer games:
difficult to aim, they also take time to detonate, and they don't have
the range. The power and ease of use of other explosives typically freely
available in online games make this a are choice. Still, with practice,
they remain a means of dispatching a group of opponents if the user correctly
times the explosion - but this is often reliant as much on luck as skill, so
I would tend not to bother. They are, however, suited to clearing out
snipers' nests / camping spots.
Satchel Charge [STL]
Primary fire: Drops an explosive charge if none are placed, detonates it
and all others placed otherwise ('detonation mode' - Gordon will have the
remote control in his hand). Satchels are slid across the floor a short
distance. They are capable of dealing up to 150 damage, with splash effect.
Secondary fire: If in 'detonation mode' (i.e. a charge has already been
placed), secondary fire throws another satchel. Simple stuff, really.
Ammo: You may carry up to 5 satchels, and throw one at once. They tend to
be found in army munitions crates.
A fairly simple concept, using a satchel involves no more than placing an
explosive and detonating it at your will. Although it *can* be used
offensively, much like a grenade (jump up and throw to have it arc
through the air), it tends to be ineffective in such a capacity, and far
better suited for trapping opponents. Such are the variety of ways these
traps might be established that the only real limit on the possibilities
is your own brain.
Simple strategies involve chucking a stachel, poking around a corner to
attract an enemy's attention, and detonating the charge as he follows.
You can also detonate mines that are within the explosive's blast radius,
too, though there's few things that stand up to direct damage to this weapon.
Anything prone to following you is bait. Human grunts, for all their
intelligence, walk rather easily into satchel traps, and on occasion
I've found it a nice way to dispatch the evasive but aggressive black
Never use it:
Obviously, ammo is too scarce to waste on headcrabs and houndeyes,
but other than that you need to be aware that there are no alternate
routes to your position if you intend to bait grunts or assassins. Oh,
I suppose I should remind you that you need to stand well clear of the
explosive, else severe injury might follow.
Satchels aren't especially common in deathmatch, considering the aggressive
nature of play, and though they might be chucked about as grenades, it's
rare that better alternatives are unavailable (e.g. RPGs, MP-5 grenades).
Still, if you know that a specific opponent is coming, satchels are a
nice way to score kills without putting yourself at risk.
Some players also use them whilst fleeing, hoping that pursuers are
sufficiently distracted by the promise of a kill to see the trap.
On occasion I've seen them used in kamikaze tactics when a player is
trapped at short quarters. I've also seen players place satchels on
weapon pickups, hoping that they won't be noticed by greedy rivals,
especially on satchel pickups themselves. Watch out for this.
Primary fire: Throw a snark. Several snarks can be thrown.
A snark bite deals 10 damage, a snark 'explosion' deals only 5.
Secondary fire: n/a
Ammo: Snark eggs (that often spawn snarks against you!)
provide 5 with each pickup, up to a maximum capacity of 15.
Snark, snark, snark, snark, snark. I love saying it. This is your 'pet',
a particulalry aggressive alien creature that pursues non-xenian enemies
and attacks them at close range, repeatedly. The snarks do not live long,
however, and disappear in a burst of acid after a short time period.
Their remaining lifespan is indicated by the squeaks they make:
their cries increase pitch with time.
Be aware that snarks will attack just about anything that doesn't
come from xen - that means you, too, if the creature cannot find any
viable alternative targets. They possess 2 health each, and explode upon
Specific enemies: Snarks work well against human grunts, and can be
used to locate assassins.
Never use it...
Obviously, when no terrestrial creatures other than yourself are available
as targets. Be aware that snarks cannot jump over obstacles or long gaps.
The snark is an excellent choice for multiplayer - all opponents are
viable snark targets, and a barrage of snarks invariably unleashes chaos.
Most players will be distracted by these potentially deadly xenofauna,
and often turn their attentions to either evasion or destruction.
Though you won't often secure frags through snark usage alone, you will
find it makes picking off panicking competitors all the more easy. Throw
large groups of them to be effective, ideally from an elevated position
(so they can't turn on you instead).
Laser tripmine [MIN]
Primary fire: Set a tripmine on the surface the player is looking at.
A mine explosion can deal potentially 150 damage at close range, with
Secondary fire: n/a
A useful tactical weapon, these mines emit a beam of light perpendicular
to the surface the mine sits on. Should that beam be broken, or should
the mine be damaged, it will instantly explode. There is a three second
delay between setting a mine and its activation.
The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination.
Tripmines can be set up around corners to instantly kill approaching
enemies - mines can be set up, enemies coaxed into pursuit, and almost
certainly reduced to minced flesh. Tripmines can be placed on the floor
to be shot at as a grunt passes by, or mines can be placed within proximity
of each other's explosive range, to create a deadly chain of explosions.
I'll leave you to imagine further applications.
They can also, interestingly enough, be used as stepping stones. Place a mine
on a wall, and it is possible to carefully jump onto the device itself.
Theoretically a set of stairs can be created - there have been several
shortcuts (especially useful in speedruns) that have exploited this 'feature'.
Most players will never use it, but it's nice to know.
Specific enemies: Anything that will chase you without being able to jump
or duck is a possible candidate - especially something reasonably strong,
as mines are not abundantly available. Grunts, both human and alien, are
good choices. Though assassins can jump over them, it is nevertheless
possible to place two mines, one above the other, in a passageway wall,
to make it impassible. Ultimately, their application depends on your brain.
Never use it...
When pursuit is unlikely, or when several safe alternate routes are available
to an enemy.
Multiplayer usage is not tremendously common, but does occur in certain maps,
especially ones with tight enclosed spaces and plenty of narrow corners.
It is possible to lay a mine on a wall, and hide a vertically facing mine
within range of its blast radius, such that a player who destroys the first
with a gun is killed by the second. Because multiplayer games are all about
fast paced movement, many players move around with little attention to their
environs, especially when fleeing more powerful opponents. You can exploit
this, and the many choke points in several maps - placing them around
the corners of narrow corridors, or at the top of ladders, is a common
Placing them on spawn points is not looked upon kindly.
Be aware also that you are exposed to attacks whilst placing a mine:
I would recommend speed rather than precision when setting them down.
Single Player [loc]
"Unforeseen consequences". At the end of the second laser-filled corridor,
it lies right in front of you, next to a downed security guard. There is
also an apparently unusable model of a crowbar near the start of Blast Pit,
"Unforeseen consequences". This can be picked up either by killing a
security guard, or grabbing it from the Barney who falls blasting a zombie
as you enter 'Sector C: Coolant Reservoir'.
Towards the end of Blast Pit - after destroying the tentacles, explore the
hole they leave behind. A dead security officer lays next to an upturned
barrel of radioactive waste, and he's holding the Colt.
4. MP-5 assault rifle
Obtained from the hands of the many human grunts in 'We've Got Hostiles'.
'Apprehension', before taking on the Ichthyosaur.
'Surface Tension' - after finishing the first cliffside portion, you'll
deal with a shotgun grunt standing before metal double doors. Through there,
you'll find the rocket launcher - right before an Apache helicopter shows up.
Neat timing, eh?
8. Tau Cannon
'Questionable Ethics'. You'll hear a scientist warning a guard not to
overcharge it, and then an explosion. Pick it out of the unfortunate
9. Gluon Gun
Can be taken from the arms of any alien grunt you kill, presumably after
your first encounter with one in 'Questionable Ethics'.
Can be found early in 'Unforeseen Consequences', in the area the
G-man disappears into.
12. Satchel Charge
'On a Rail'
First found at the very end of 'Blast Pit'
Here's a list of the fourteen weapons, and in brief whether they work
underwater or not:
Weapon: Works underwater?
9MM GLOCK YES
COLT .357 NO
MP-5 NO - NEITHER PRIMARY OR SECONDARY FIRE
RPG YES, BUT PROJECTILE SLOWED
TAU CANNON NO
GLUON GUN NO
LASER TRIPMINES YES
SATCHEL CHARGES YES
In particular, the crossbow is recommended for dispatching ichthyosaurs,
the crowbar for those little underwater leeches that sap health.
1. Which is better for sniping, the .357 or the crossbow? Which is the better
Strong cases can be made for preferring either weapon in long-range combat.
Personally, though, despite the loss of ten damage per body hit, I would tend
to recommend the Colt - here's a few reasons why:
A. The projectile connects instantly
By far the greatest trouble with the crossbow is the fact that arrows
simply don't move at the same speed as bullets. This makes attacking n
on-stationary targets a great deal more difficult, and though prediction
can counter these disadvantages if your enemy moves in a straight line,
should they begin zigzagging and moving randomly (a common tactic when
players first hear a bolt whizzing past them), then aiming becomes a matter
of chance, especially if the user intends to achieve a headshot.
Obviously, this isn't a worry with the revolver.
B. Missed shots don't easily reveal a sniper's interest to the target
Obviously, the .357 is loud, and I'm certainly not claiming that the blast
will go unnoticed. However, though the crossbow is noticeably quiet, it
possesses a distinctive noise that follows the projectile - when a crossbow
misses you, you'll know. And when you know a sniper takes an interest in
you, out comes the 'zigzagging' tactic outlined above. At long range, it's
far trickier to note the danger from a .357 in a hectic (and noisy) map,
unless the Colt bullet happens to hit a wall or destructible object within
the subject's vision. Even then, for many this has the appearance of random
crossfire rather than purposeful sniping. The 'stealth' attributes of a
crossbow simply don't come into play in a map such as, say, Crossfire.
C. The revolver has a larger clip
Though reloading the two weapons takes a similar amount of time,
the greater clip size of a six-shooter ultimately means you'll be spending
far less time reloading, and have far more opportunities to correct
missed shots. The revolver can also carry a maximum stock of 36 rounds,
the crossbow only 25.
D. Explosive arrows are useless
Frankly, their splash damage range is disappointing, and splash weapons
need to be aimed towards a target's feet in order to prevent an explosive
device harmlessly sailing past. Aiming at feet with a crossbow defeats the
entire purpose of a 'low speed, high power' weapon - you're looking for as
much damage per shot as is feasible without major tactical disadvantage.
Oh, did I mention that the arrows only explode if you unequip the scope?
Not looking good for the bow, is it?
E. The colt's zoomed crosshair can be replaced
Admittedly, the tiny single dot that stands for an aiming mechanism in
the .357's secondary mode doesn't entirely lend itself to ease of use.
That's not to claim that it's unworkable, rather that there are circumstances,
such as desert themed maps and chains of explosions, where picking out
crosshairs from the background can be tricky. Thankfully, help is at hand -
simply download some new crosshairs, and replace the sprites.spr file in
the valve sprites folder. Simple.
F. You can use a zoom script in single-player
G. Crossbow pickups are a source of attention
H. 'Crossbowed' kill messages reveal the existence of a sniper
G. The damage difference doesn't matter
Ten damage is not an awful lot in most deathmatches, and though with a
headshot that difference is tripled to 30, there's a few caveats that make
me hesitate before awarding an advantage to the crossbow. Firstly, headshots
with a bow are far more difficult and reliant upon good luck than those
attempted with the magnum; secondly, opponents lacking HEV charge (i.e.
reasonably fresh spawns) will die as a result of either hit to the skull.
Many of those who *can* endure more than 120 damage will often be able to
deal with 150, too - most often they'll be freshly charged, and how often
in a busy server do *you* have more than 120 combined health except
immediately after searching for batteries?
Anything well tooled up will take more than one shot to the head with
either the crossbow or the revolver, and frankly you've a far better
chance of connecting the second time with your Colt than with your bow.
Ultimately, becoming proficient in the use of both weapons is possibly the
best long-term strategy for the purposes of adapting to any possible
circumstance. There are plenty of moments and maps where pickups for the
one weapon or the other are scarce or even non-existent (though the
sniping-specific functions of a crossbow make it a target for restriction
on servers where sniping is discouraged). Barring your own personal choice,
comfort, and style, however, I would have to promote the .357 in multiplayer
more than the crossbow, although with good prediction a bow headshot deals
considerably more damage than a revolver round.
As for single player choices - only underwater functionality and the need
to conserve Magnum rounds really compels me to choose the crossbow. If you
prefer to stay unnoticed, though, then it's stealthy attributes will serve
2. Is it me, or are gargantuas bulletproof?
Yes. Use explosives - MP-5 grenades, RPG shells, or even if pushed trip
mines to kill them. The Garg in Surface Tension is supposed to be killed
by airstrike, by the way, before you go wasting good munitions on him.
Likewise, 'Power up' involves frying one with a bolt of electricity.
3. My rocket just swerved out of my control! What's going on?
Read the section on the RPG - rockets can be 'distracted', so to speak,
by the laser painters of other players.
4. I used the Egon gun, but all that came out was a stream of bubbles! /
I played a multiplayer game, and weapons didn't act as you described as
at all! Why is this?
Certain modifications for half-life radically alter weapon functions.
'Bubblemod', for example, turns the Egon gun into a bubble generator,
that either boosts oxygen supplies underwater, or (secondary mode) can
be charged for an area-effect healing wave. Pay attention to the 'games'
column in the server list and any mention of active modifications in
either the server title or welcome messages. Modifications are varied,
and are implemented differently on individual servers, so pay attention
to the information provided by the host.
5. I'm sure the tau cannon used to be more powerful. Has it been altered?
Yes. The power of the secondary fire blast was reduced after the version
188.8.131.52 . However, blind firing a secondary charge into cover can still
deal significant damage, and primary fire remains unchanged.
6. What do you recommend using against Gonarch?
Tactics vary. Some chuck satchel charges in its way and detonate as it
scuttles over, others lay trip mines to achieve something similar.
When Gonarch isn't running to the next stage of the level, blast its
egg sac with either a charged tau shot or the revolver. Some prefer
laying into it with the MP-5, firing grenades when Gonarch gets near,
or when baby headcrabs become too tricky. The RPG is a nice choice for
the big momma herself, you should be able to hit Gonarch's weak point
dead on without too much hasle.
The baby headcrabs are tricky to kill - you can either spray with the
assault rifle (ineffective), dispatch them with constant crowbar thrashing
as they close in (this does tend to draw your attention away from Gonarch
herself, though), pick them off with the glock or spam them with the
hivehand's primary fire. See a full walkthrough for more details.
7. What are the high-definition pack weapon models, and did the upgrade
involve any changes to weapon functionality?
Answer: In case you didn't know, the high-definition pack (sometimes
referred to as the 'HD Pack') was a half-life upgrade that replaced
various items of content, especially models used in the game. Better
enemy models and weapon models, more specifically. It was originally
provided with the Blue Shift expansion pack.
Anyway, the alterations were aesthetic only, and did not change the
statistics or operation of firearms in any way.
The only noticeable changes are an alteration to the pistol (now sporting
the looks of a Beretta M92F), the shotgun (apparently now a SPAS 12), and
the MP-5 has now become an M4 assault rifle. They sound nicer too, but that's
8. You advised to never use ______ in circumstances such as _______, but
I think it's the best tool for the job!
This guide, whilst to my knowledge compiled to the highest standards of
accuracy, is nevertheless tainted by my own subjective opinion, such is
the nature of its content (specifically, recommended usages). I call it
a 'guide' for a reason: it advises and proposes reasons for its instructions,
it does not stand, nor is intended to be read as, a series of absolute,
arbitrary instructions. Ultimately, you have to use weapons according to
the strategies and gameplay style you find most comfortable.
Besides, a good player knows how to adapt each weapon to practically any
circumstance. Get used to thinking on your feet how best to apply limited
resources, such as ammunition.
9. Which is the best weapon to carry around by default in the single player
Probably the submachinegun. Primary fire deals with most medium-range
threats, and the grenades deal with large groups or any nasty surprises.
In closer quarters, I'd equip the shotgun, at range, I'd keep the revolver
at my side. Of course, different situations call for radically different
measures - you'd be better looking at my account of recommended usages for
each weapon than stubbornly sticking it out with a particular piece of
10. The game manual describes 'augmentations' for various weapons.
I don't see any listed here.
The game sports none. Whether this was a feature removed at the last
minute or not is open to speculation, as is the nature of the proposed
alterations. It's always possible that the multiplayer-exclusive Colt
scope was to be picked up at some point in the single player campaign,
but was dropped for fears that it would render the crossbow redundant.
Contacting me [cme]
I can be emailed at jbreckmckye@hotmai l.co.uk (without the space in
the middle of the address - that's just there to confuse spambots).
I'm willing to answer any question that doesn't appear in the guide,
if I have the time, but I do not provide either walkthrough information
or cheat codes. Nor do I listen to anything incomprehensible or anything
wRiTtEn LiKe ThIs or punctuated by 'lolllz!!!' or 'roflmao!!???!!' etc.,
so you have been warned.
I also go under the name 'Bosola' on some forums.
Version history [ver]
June 2008 - version 1.0
-- completed first iteration of guide.
-- May insert more detail into 'weapon locations' section at a future date.
* vALVE, for developing this fantastic game
* The Planet Half Life wiki for providing data on weapon damage values
at time of writing.
* Myself, for writing it ;)
* And you, for taking the time to read my guide.
Copyright (C) 2008 Jimmy Breck-McKye.