Design: Randall Montanari
Half-Life is a game that really needs no introduction. Having sold millions upon millions of copies since the first game was released way back in 1998, it’s appeared on numerous platforms, including most major consoles. While there have only been two core games in the franchise thus far, both have been exceedingly high-quality productions that have garnered acclaim from both fans and critics.
The games follow the story of one Gordon Freeman, a researcher at the mysterious Black Mesa facility, which is infiltrated by aliens from another dimension after a lab accident. After fighting his way through the facility, and then into the alien dimension to defeat the invasion at its source. Unfortunately, his efforts are mostly in vain, as the aliens manage to invade Earth in a wholesale war and quickly take over the entire planet, with the goal of enslaving humanity and stealing Earth’s resources. With help from his friends, including the comely Alyx Vance, Gordon infiltrated the Combine Citadel, its base of operations on Earth, and destroyed the teleportation device at its top, which seemed to start some kind of nuclear reaction. And that’s where the story picks up as you start to play Half Life 2: Episode One.
The focus in Episode One is on new content to play through, instead of new toys to mess around with. There’s only one new enemy to fight against, and no new weapons to use, so if you’ve played through Half-Life 2, then you should be intimately familiar with all of the enemies and weapons you’ll be dealing with. As such, GameSpot’s Game Guide to Episode One will consist solely of a walkthrough for the game; we hope you’ll find it helpful.
The beginning of Episode One is essentially a long, interactive cutscene. Players of Half-Life 2 will recall the fact that you won your battle with Dr. Breen’s forces atop the Combine Citadel in the heart of City 17, but at a grave price; your struggle caused a massive explosion, destroying much of the citadel and seemingly vaporizing Alyx, your companion. As you discover at the beginning of Episode One, however, the Vortigaunts were capable of both saving Alyx and preventing the G-Man from enlisting you back into his services as he wished to do. From there, both you and Alyx are somehow deposited at the base of the Citadel, ready to take up the fight against the Combine once more.
That’s where your journey begins, and as we mentioned, you’re just going to be along for the ride for a while. After Dog moves the Combine assault ship out of your way, drop down to the ledge and crawl around to the nearby platform, using your gravity gun to blast the car out of your way. A short while later, Dog will throw you and Alyx across the gap into the Citadel, leading to a little roller-coaster ride that you probably shouldn’t be able to survive. But survive you do, as has been a theme in the life of Gordon Freeman. It’s time to find the Citadel’s power core and find a way to contain the imminent explosion that’s about to occur.
Onwards And Inwards
When you get past the first loading screen here, hop off the platform that you’re on and reach the platform below you. Before long, you’ll come to a dead end: a pair of stalkers are holding up a force field in your path which Alyx can’t break through. You’ll have to kill the stalkers to get through the field, but that’s going to be easier said than done.
As Alyx notes, though, there are rollermines being shunted through a set of nearby tubes. If you could manage to grab one of them, then you might be able to use them for your own nefarious purposes. After she shuts down the smaller forcefield here, crouch through the small passage here and crawl around until you can start dropping down to the platforms below you. When you hit the level of the elevator, pass over it and hit the switch beneath the clogged tube of rollermines. They’ll all issue forth at once, so zap them with your gravity gun until most of them fall away, then grab one and ride the elevator back up to Alyx. She’ll zap it to change its targeting parameters, allowing you to chuck it through the forcefield and kill the stalkers. Just keep in mind that it’ll eventually turn red and explode, so do your best to keep it away from you when it does so.
The path from here is long but linear. When you spot the dead soldiers, blast the debris out of your path with your grav gun, then run on. You’ll eventually have to jump over a small balcony to move on, and you’ll soon come to a energy platform with more soldiers on it. Worry not, though, as they’ll get sucked into an energy vortex off to your right. The only problem is how to get past the vortex yourself...
Well, that’s where your sprint key comes in. It’s pretty basic platforming; just wait for the vortex to wind down, then sprint across the platform before it starts up again.
The next room will finally see you come face to face with one of what we suspect to be the master race in the Combine forces. This massive, slug-like alien entity (or one like it) was last seen negotiating with Breen as he attempted to escape from the Citadel, and apparently hasn’t managed to effect its own exit from the collapsing structure just yet. You can’t interact with it, and as soon as you spot it, it appears to initiate its own teleportation out of town. Surely we’ll be seeing more of them in the future, however.
The Mischievous Platforms
After getting your gravity gun supercharged, you’ll finally be able to defend yourself against the soldiers of the combine, and as such, you can expect to start seeing more of them. As a reminder, you can either hit your primary attack to blast them away from you at short range, or use your secondary attack to grab them and start dragging them towards you. Either attack automatically kills your foe.
When you reach the platform that appears to extend an energy walkway, you have to figure out how to activate the walkway. Doing so is pretty simple: just grab one of the white energy balls that are floating around above you with the gravgun’s secondary attack, then blast it towards one of the two receptacles below you. If you hit it correctly, you should spot the receptacle sucking in the energy ball and using it to power up one half of the platform. Nail both of the receptacle, and you’ll be able to pass along.
Now, as you move across to the middle section of the area, you’ll be forced to do all this again, but this time you’ll have soldiers fighting against you. Alyx will do her best to keep them off your back, but you’d be well advised to clear out a few of them with your gravity gun before attempting to enable the next platform in front of you. (Don’t forget that Alyx can die on Hard mode, so be sure to protect her if you’re playing on the highest difficulty.)
It’s the third platform that will be most difficult to activate, due to the fact that one of the two receptacles here is blocked off by a piece of fallen debris. After powering the non-blocked receptacle, move around to the left and find the small passage that allows you to walk over and on top of the second receptacle. In order to power it, you have to nab an energy ball and shoot it downwards so that it banks off the debris and back into the receptacle. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds; just be sure to clear the area of soldiers before attempting to do it.
After some more misadventures in the Citadel, you and Alyx will reach a massive central elevator that’ll take you down further, further towards the core. In order to activate it, get ready to throw some more balls towards the receptacles in the elevator shaft, and be ready to grab falling debris from above. If you can suck it in with your gravity gun, you can toss it into one of the white strings of energy to disintegrate it.
When the elevator stops for the first time, remove the computer console from the nearby platform and then bank an energy ball through the hole that’s thusly created; after a couple of tries, you should be able to get it into the receptacle behind the window and resume your descent. At the next stop, the banking is fairly easy to perform, but a stalker will appear and zap your energy ball before you can resume the descent. To prevent it from doing so, bank an energy ball towards the stalker to kill it, then bank another one towards the receptacle. Just be ready to run when your elevator hits the bottom floor....
Guarding The Core
After a bit more intervention, you should be able to finally reach the core, where Alyx will summon an elevator and send you in to do your bit for god and country. If you recall your adventures in Black Mesa, this isn’t the first time Gordon Freeman has had to deal with a faulty core, although this may be the first time he’s ever had to deal with alien technology on this scale. Can he solve the magical mystery and return the world to a state of idyllic beauty? We’ll see...
When you reach the core, suck in energy balls and destroy the stalkers on the far platforms near your position. When both of them are dead, start plugging in balls into the receptacles here; there are three in all, and when all are filled, you’ll be able to move all the way around to the far end of the platform and throw a switch there to reposition the platforms to allow you access to the central spire. Climb the ladder there, then move back across the walkway to find the first of three control rooms. You’ll need to charge up each control room to enable all three restraining fields; doing so will cause the reactor core to come back in line and hopefully stay stable enough to give you and Alyx time to find a way out of the city.
The first room is easy enough to take out. Just enter, kill the soldiers, then return to the core reactor room and grab an energy ball. Plugging it into the receptacle in the first room will get the restrictor field started there, and open up a door allowing you to move on. Be ready for more soldiers, though.
After you’re done with the first room, move down the nearby hallway and gravgun the hatch leading to the energy conduit to move through. The energy balls here will hurt if they impact you, so be sure to not give them the opportunity; either jump over the low-lying ones or dodge the higher ones. Kill the soldiers in the hall nearby, then return to the core. You’ll need to drop the forcefield by snatching the energy ball out of the energy beam nearby.
To get past the core, you’ll need to time your move on the small, melted ledge so that it coincides with the core’s inward movement. It pulses in and out, and if you happen to get caught on the ledge when the core’s expanding, it’ll instantly kill you. So wait until it’s retracting, then sprint past it as quickly as possible.
The second room is the same as the first; grab an energy ball and place it in the receptacle to activate it. Take the elevator up to the third room afterwards.
After riding the elevator here, you have to hop onto one of the three spinning blades that make up the uppermost restraining field for the core. After you’re atop one of them, pull the manhacks that attack you in with your gravity gun, then shoot them into the energy beam atop the core to instantly kill them. Jump onto the far platform when you’ve rotated to it to move on.
From here, make your way through the small corridors until you reach another energy conduit, full of nuclear happy fun balls. All of them are jump-overable, but they’ll be coming in rapid succession, so they’re going to be difficult to dodge. Do your best to make your way down the conduit as best you can until you reach the third control room.
To activate this final containment field, grab a ball and throw it into the receptacle. Since this is the last of three activation areas, though, something is bound to go wrong, and indeed it does, as the containment device fails to initialize. It’s under-powered, is the problem, so drop down behind the machine that’s risen up from the ground and look at the three devices here. In order to activate them, you have to find the crack in the ceiling, suck down balls from there, then chuck them at the energy receptacle. Just be sure to hit the third battery while you’re standing on the ramp underneath the containment room. If you get stuck down here because the ramp raised while you weren’t on it, just suck one of the balls back out of the battery to lower it again.
With all three of the containment fields active, the core should be contained - for the moment. Return to Alyx through the door nearby to learn of something new in the air - some kind of Combine secret master plan. Time to get back to Dr. Vance to see if he can make heads or tails of it.
When you reach the bottom of the elevator here, move around into the room where the rollerballs appear, then have Alyx convert both of them into friendlies. They’ll kill off the Combine troopers for you, allowing you to make it into the train nearby. Of course, train rides rarely go smoothly, so when the whole thing crashes, crawl back to Alyx’s position and pull the stalker off of her with your grav gun in order to keep moving. When you’re outside the train, just crawl underneath the piece of rubble nearby to move on to the next chapter.
Your goal now is to head through the seemingly endless system of sewers and parking lots underneath City 17 until you can reach the surface again. Theoretically, being underground might be the safest place to be if the Citadel blows up, but you’ve got to risk it - who knows what that Combine communication might mean?
Begin by heading down the turret-overwatched tunnel near the start point of this level. The turrets can’t be destroyed, but don’t worry; they’re out of bullets anyway. Use the bricks and other detritus here to fling at the zombies and kill them, but watch out for mines!
When you find the darkened side corridor here, head to the locked door at the end and blast the vent to crawl into the airducts. After some poking around, you’ll find a ladder which leads into the room on the far side of the locked door. With your flashlight, find the small stash of guns and ammo behind the gate; in order to get them out of the armory, you’ll have to nab them with your gravgun, then drag them up towards the ceiling and bring them through the small gap there. Get the pistol and the shotgun, and use the pistol to shoot the lock off the nearby gate. You’ll find the power console nearby; use it to power it up and let Alyx through.
The Darkened Tunnels
You’re going to reach a completely darkened tunnel here; use your gravgun to push the car in front of the door out of the way. Turn left to find a few more rounds for your boomstick before moving up the tunnel here. The basic mechanic you need to know is that Alyx can’t fire on your target unless she can see it, so keep your flashlight pointed at anything you think needs killing. As you progress, you’ll run into antlions; zap these guys with your gravgun to temporarily stun them and knock them onto their backs, which will let Alyx finish them off a bit more quickly than she normally would be able to.
After hitting a train car that’s somehow impacted its way into the tunnel, you’ll run across your very first zombine: a zombie varient of the Combine soldier. These guys are a lot tougher than your normal zombie, so that they can take a bunch more damage, but will also periodically unclip a grenade and perform a suicide rush on you to try and blow you to smithereens. Do your best to deal with them from a distance, then. When they do run towards you, they’ll move fairly quickly, but will often slow down when they get near you, allowing you to put a couple of shotgun rounds in their head(crab). Between that and Alyx’s firing, they should usually go down.
Of course, in the darkened tunnel near the train, you’re immediately going to run across numerous zombines. Your best bet here might be to get behind one of the cars and use your gravity gun to blast the car into the zombines as they approach; they’ll take a lot of damage, but can usually be killed with a few blunt impacts.
When you reach the end of this tunnel (watch for the barnacles on the ceiling), find the small corridor nearby and flip the switch. That’ll power open a door you passed by earlier, which will let you take some stairs up to another level.
Start Me Up
As soon as you reach the top of the stairs, get ready for some pain; there are some toxic headcrabs up here. These little guys are virulent, and will knock your health down to one point when they hit you. You’ll gradually recover your life over time, but it’s still pretty damn annoying, so be sure to let Alyx take them out before risking your life charging ahead.
Around the corner, you’ll come across your first antlion pit of the expansion pack. These pits will spawn infinite antlions if you can’t find some way to plug them up, but luckily for you, you can do exactly that by smacking a car into the pit so that it falls in. No antlions will be able to emerge thereafter. When the pit here is plugged, move over to the lever nearby and start churning away at it. More toxic headcrabs will come under it as it raises, so deal with them, then return to the lever and keep twisting until it’s all the way to the top and clicks into place.
Through the gate, you’ll find a couple of headcrabs and a long passageway filled with barnacles. Although the barnacles are in your way, they’ll act as a useful hedge against the zombines and zombies coming your way, so just light up the mobile enemies, then allow Alyx to finish off the barnacles. When you reach the small squad of zombines at the end of the hall, be sure to check the hole in the wall for a box of shotgun ammo.
The Antlion Academy
The next large room you come to is infested with antlions, as there are three pits in the floor here. Uncoincidentally, there are three cars just waiting to be tossed into the pits; your goal is to find them and bat them around with your gravgun until they all get into the holes in which they belong, preferably before Alyx dies.
First off, hit the car on the lowest level into any of the three antlion pits there, then crawl up the fallen rafter beam to reach the second level. The second car is right in front of you, so crawl behind it over the crate to your left and punch it down to the bottom level to plug another pit. With that done, make your way back up to the second level and find the ramp leading up to the third. You’ll notice a large open area after passing over a pair of rafters, so head through there, drop down to the car below you, pump the zombine in the head with some shotgun rounds before it has a chance to get up, then flip the switch nearby to open the gate here. When it’s opened all the way, push the car down to the lowest level to plug the final pit and get a moment’s peace.
With all that done, return to the highest level here and flip the lever until the gate here is as high as it gets, then move underneath. After descending the stairs, fight your way through the enclosed passages beyond to reach the dreaded Elevator.
When you reach the elevator room, feel free to poke around a bit, but when you hit the elevator itself, Alyx will automatically attempt to start it up, which of course causes it to shut down. Some kind of electricity short. As she so helpfully notes, though, the sparking wire attached to the elevator likely leads to some kind of power supply. Maybe examining it will enable you to get the elevator started again. Yeah...maybe.
Anyway, you can probably tell what’s going to happen here: you’ll activate the elevator electricity, then have to wait for it to arrive amidst hordes of festering zombies and zombines. Happens all the time. Hell, happened to us when we got to work this morning. Anyway, as you might expect, it’s going to be a rough fight, especially on the harder difficulties. It’ll take a couple of minutes for the elevator to arrive, so you’ll have to survive until it doesn.
One of the keys to this fight is waiting a while before flipping the elevator switch. Poke around the area with your flashlight for a while, finding any health, ammo, or propane tanks that happen to be lying around. The propane should be picked up and brought back near the elevator, along with any extra supplies that you can’t use at the moment, such as surplus health. Scatter the propane and explosive barrels around; try not to bunch them up too much. As you roam around, some of the zombies will likely poke their heads out, so take them down as you see them. There should be some cinderblocks around, which make for excellent zombie-smashing devices in a pinch. Even the zombines will go down after a couple of blocks to the face, making it a cheap way to survive here.
When you’re ready to get your fight on, flip the switch at the end of the sparking cable to start bringing down the elevator. This is obviously when things start to get tricky. You should be at full health if you looked around enough and obtained all the health boxes in the area, so start whacking your enemies in the face! Most of the lower-health enemies will keel over dead when you smack them with a cinderblock, but be ready for the zombines, who’ll often pop out a grenade or two while you fight them. An alternate-fire blast from both of your shotgun barrels will often persuade them to drop the grenade, allowing you to run away from them before they blow. Just be ready for any secondary explosions from the propane tanks or explosive barrels in the area; they can often cause a cascade of explosions in the area.
Whenever you have a quiet moment, turn off your flashlight for a second or two to let it recharge, then flip it on when you start hearing sounds. After a couple of minutes of fighting, the elevator will finally arrive, so try to be near it when it starts entering the shaft and immediately climb on board. If you do so, you’ll have a safe trip up to the surface.
After the elevator reaches its top floor, exit it and twist the wheel nearby to open a small supply room. Buried under the rubble here is another orange crank, so grab it and bring it back down towards Alyx and fit it into the socket on the wall. Doing so will let you twist it again and open up the path leading upwards.
When you’re finally up and on the surface, feel free to listen to Dr. Kleiner for a while; he’s got a long list of stuff to talk about. Be sure that Alyx is listening when he starts talking about procreation; she really needs to get the point of that, if you know what we mean. Yeah, baby.
Use your gravgun to clear the path leading on, and watch for Combine troopers that’ll start to rappel in from the rooftops. There’s a cinderblock in a milk crate near here, so use it to blast your enemies right in the face, then grab their SMGs. Finally, something a bit more hardy to fight with...there are more Combine soldiers up ahead, along with three antlion burrows. You know what to do with these things.
At the end of the street with the burrows, find the barred door and destroy the wooden bars over it. Inside, a pair of Combine troopers will be attempting to place mines on the walls. Do your best to show them the error of their ways by shooting one of the mines. This’ll kill the troopers, but will also unfortunately set the whole hallway on fire. It’ll be up to you to find the propane tank that’s feeding the fire and shut it down. Doing so is a simple matter of walking around the corner here. Unfortunately, the tank is on a ledge that’s too high to reach, forcing you to walk along a precariously balanced pipe to get to it. Just before you jump, it’ll fall down, though.
The solution here is simple but non-obvious. This doesn't have to be a physics-based puzzle; there may not be enough objects in the area to let you make a counterweight for the pipe and prevent it from falling. Instead, walk along the pipe until it falls down, then zap it with your gravgun’s primary fire, which will cause it to rise up momentarily. Use this moment of opportunity to jump across the gap and reach the far side, then quickly turn off the gas so you and Alyx can proceed upstairs. If you want to try a more secure method of making the jump, you may be able to form a counterweight by placing every single object in the area on the rear end of the pipe, or you can wedge it into place by shoving a rock between the pipe and the ground near it, preventing it from rising.
Using The Enemy’s Tools
After fighting your way past the zombies in the upper floor here, grab the rollermine that’s attempting to zap you and let Alyx convert it to a friendly. With that done, head down the steps, watching out for sniper fire, and do your best to grab the second rollermine and convert that as well. When that’s done, shoot them both out into the street beyond the doorway; the sniper will think of them as targets and attempt to fire at them, giving you a perfect opportunity to dash out and take cover behind the cars. When you’re close enough to the sniper to do so, grab a rollermine and chuck it into the window he’s hiding in; moments later you’ll be treated to a glorious display of ragdoll death.
At this point, Alyx will proceed upwards and take over the sniper rifle to cover your advance down the street. After jumping off of the platform she opens up for you, avoid the zombies until you can head into the nearby building, but watch out for the toxic headcrab lying in wait for you. When you reach the elevated walkway, blast the planks off of the windows with your gravgun to allow Alyx a better shot at the zombies that come at you. When you hit the street again, push the car nearby into the antlion pit, but not before you remove the piece of metal that’s obscuring the Combine soldier from Alyx’s shots.
When the far barricade opens up to issue forth some troops, wait to one side for Alyx to take a couple of them down, then dash inside and finish off any remainders with your shotgun. At this point, Alyx will begin following you, so get atop the barricade and cover her approach with whatever weapons you have available.
After fighting your way through the next building - be ready for the ambush near the locked doors - you’ll find yourself in hardcore, one-on-one combat with an antlion bull, a larger and much tougher variant of the antlion. It can’t fly, but it will attempt to run you down and bash you with its skull. It’ll also generally try to knock cars towards you, when there happens to be one between you and it. Add to all this the fact that there are two antlion pits in the area, and you’ve got a recipe for fun.
There’s no way to avoid damage here, so get used to the idea of getting hit - a lot. With any luck, you should be near full health/armor, what with the recharges you got inside the building, as well as the health packs near the drop to the antlion arena and below it. Still, you’re going to take a lot of damage here, so be sure to save your game before you drop down to face the antlion.
When you do make the drop, start by using your grav gun to grab the three explosive barrels near where you begin and chucking them into the antlion. There are four more barrels scattered around the area; if you can get a bit of distance between you and the bull, or can convince it to charge at them, then dodge out of the way and shoot them, you can do quite a bit of damage to the beast.
Beyond that, your best bet for dealing damage to the bull is to backpedal away from it while bunnyhopping. If it gets up a head of steam, it’ll be difficult to dodge, so try to keep rotating around it in smaller circles, and be sure to stay where Alyx can fire on both you and the antlions. She’ll prefer to fire on the bull, for the most part, but she’ll also clear away some of the small fries when she has a moment.
When the antlions are done, use the mounted gun to blast away at the Combine soldiers beyond the far barricade, then head into the building nearby. Another powered door that’s unpowered...and another crawl through the air vents.
Getting The Shaft
One of the first things you’re going to come across here is a falling air vent, which brings you back into a throwback to one of our favorite parts of the original Half-Life: a room completely booby-trapped with laser mines. Trip one mine, and you die.
Fortunately for you, the solution here isn’t nearly as arcane as it was in the first game. All you have to do is pop the grille from the top of the vent (be sure to use the secondary fire on your gravgun), then hop on top of the vent and jump from the top of the explosive barrels into the elevator. Even if you trip a wire doing this, you should still be able to reach the elevator, which will automatically descend, before the explosives kill you.
Unfortunately, your elevator’s cables will be destroyed by the explosion, landing you in a pit of water. Zap the hatch off the top of the elevator to free yourself, then hold down your jump button to float to the surface of the pit. You’ll note three barnacles at the top of the elevator shaft; now might be a good time to kill them off with your pistol. Regardless, you’ll need to shoot one of the explosive barrels in the nearby room, then duck underneath the water when it explodes, before moving on. Climb through the cracked window here, but watch out for another toxic headcrab - they’ll getcha! You’ll need to move the table here underneath the ventilation shaft to get inside.
On the upper level, shoot out the barrel to your left, or chuck a grenade in there to blow the mines. Now, you need to get to the ladder on the far side of this shaft, which may be difficult to do if you haven’t killed the barnacles yet, so jump out into one of their loving grasps and use your weapons to finish them off if need be. The ladder here will take you to another ventilation shaft, at the end of which you should fire at the explosive barrels to destroy them before dropping down and activating the power to let Alyx through.
Back To The Surface
In the next room, destroy the barrels, then move around to the door with a blinking lock. Be ready with your shotgun when the door blows, and immediately shoot the explosive barrel there before it gets kicked down the steps. Clear out the room, and be sure to pick up the crossbow here before unplugging the power to the nearby shield with your gravgun.
After moving down the street, you’ll be taken to a safehouse, so start making your way through the rooms, being on watch for more zombines. Beware the warped floor in one of the rooms near the top of the building; you’ll have to walk near the walls to avoid dropping into the room below.
Barney will appear shortly thereafter, and the plan forms thusly: you and Alyx are the ones the Combine wants, so it’s up to you to take a different route to the train station everyone’s heading towards. This will let you draw off the pursuit...theoretically.
When you find the next bridge, shoot the wooden plank in the gears to let it drop, then cross over to the hospital. The first thing you’ll have to do here is fight your way down a lengthy hallway full of zombies and Combine soldiers. Duck beneath the windows to avoid the gunship fire, and be sure to chuck an object through the door protected by the mines to blow them before heading through.
At the end of this hallway, you’ll come across another challenging fight: a one-on-one encounter with the airship that’s been dogging you for the past few minutes of gameplay. You should know the drill here: in order to knock the airship out of the sky, you have to hit it with rockets, and luckily for you, the soon-to-be-dead rocketeer at the far end of the room will drop a rocket launcher for you. Unfortunately, the room is going to be disintegrating around you as you fight, which will often prevent you from seeing the airship at all; the wooden walls won’t really protect you, either, since the gunship can just shoot through the planks and hit you instantly. It also magically knows right where you are at all times, so good luck hiding from the gunfire!
Your assets? Well, you have the aforementioned rocket launcher and three crates in one corner of the level (although two of them will start out on the upper level here). All of the crates contain health upgrades, so if you’re running low, look for them to get charged up a bit. You also have a rocket box on the second floor of the room, and you’re going to need to stick near it if you want to take down the gunship.
The basic pattern here is to fire your rockets up through any holes in the ceiling, let it zoom up towards the sky, then pull it back towards you by moving your laser on top of a nearby piece of wood. As it rotates around in the sky, it’ll draw the gunship’s fire and force it to try and shoot the rocket down. You’ll probably want to use a few rockets to blast sections of the roof off, at first, which will let you attempt to paint the gunship with your laser sighter and knock it down. Just don’t forget that you can open the locker while your rockets are still in midair; just quickly look at it and hit the open button, then resume your aiming. After six or seven hits (on Hard difficulty), the gunship’ll go down and you’ll be on your way.
After Alyx grabs her shotgun, you’re going to face an extended run-and-gun sequence through the upper levels of the hospital. Nothing too difficult; just more zombies and Combine. Let them kill each other whenever possible, and sort through the rubble to find any leftover weapons.
When you reach a group of zombies banging against bulletproof glass, examine the end of the hallway to find some more enemies, then turn back to deal with the zombies as they break through. After killing them all, head through the door to find a hole in the ground, then drop down to reach a little water puzzle.
Alright, it’s water. There are plenty of barnacles in the area, so your first order of business is to kill them with your pistol or shotgun. There are plenty of them around, including a few that haven’t dropped their tentacles yet, so be sure to check the ceiling for holes and fire away accordingly.
Here’s how things are going to go: there’s a switch to activate the electricty that’s semi-hidden on the platform at the top of the stairs that descend into the water. Flipping the switch will also electrify the water itself, though, which causes a problem for you, since the only way to move to the door involves jumping from the platform nearby, which dips into the water when you stand on it. Since you can’t survive more than a few seconds in the water, this is obviously problematic.
The solution? Flip the switch into the off position again, then find the blue floatation device directly across from the dipping platform. Grabbing it with your gravgun will let you suck it underwater and place it underneath the end of the dipping platform, which will prevent it from dropping into the water. With that done, flip the switch back on, jump from the end of the platform to the metal grate, then jump across the pipes to the enclosed room and from there to the platform near the open door.
When you link up with Alyx once again, you’re going to come to another drop-in room with a toxic zombie wandering the halls below. Before you drop down into the room, kill the zombie and all of his headcrabs.
After you drop down, you’ll have a couple moments of rest before the zombies start appearing again, so take advantage of that to place the flip mines on the rack near the two doorways (simply alt-fire grab them with your grav gun, then drop them by a door; they’ll automatically turn friendly to you when you do so). When they come down, numerous zombines will come at you, so try to keep them off of Alyx, and shoot them with both barrels of your shotgun when they pull out a grenade. It can be tricky to survive here, but you have no real options except to fight your way out. If one door opens sooner than the other, then you might be able to head through it to maneuver a bit before the other one opens, assuming you manage to kill the incoming opponents quickly enough. There are going to be a few zombines here, so be extra careful about their grenade-dropping habits. You may want to try pegging them with a crossbow bolt to kill them instantly before they have a chance to pull one out.
Around the corner from here, you’ll come to a hallway with numerous flip mines and a couple of turrets set up to overwatch it. Although it’s been set up to halt your progress, you’ll still be able to use it to your advantage. As you move up the hallway (sprinting from doorway to doorway to avoid the turret fire), the flipmines will be activated by the zombies that come your way, eliminating most of them without a problem. When you reach the end of the hall, pull the plug on the forcefield with your gravgun to move on.
The Train Station
You’ve made it to your destination, but you haven’t made it to safety quite yet; you still have to get as many civilians to the train as possible. After meeting up with Barney, he’ll give you the rundown; you have to take small groups of civilians from his position and maneuver them through the junkyard nearby, then guide them through the trainyard past Alyx’s little turret before they’re home free. You’ll obviously have to fight off plenty of Combine soldiers along the way, but if you keep moving, your followers will generally manage to keep pace with you.
The first route is simplicity itself; no one will fire on you at all. When you reach the small corridor between the junkyard and the train station, be sure to open the lockers for more crossbow and magnum ammo. You’ll find a magnum when you drop off the civilians in the train depot.
On your way back to Barney to pick up more civilians, take your time to prepare for the upcoming onslaught. A few flipmines will be dropped in your path here, so grab them with your gravgun and place them further up the hill, near the large building there. Soldiers will soon be rapelling off of the building, so any mines set up there will likely take out an enemy or two when they arrive. There’s also a truck full of medical supplies near Barney’s door, so grab the crates there and smash them so that their contents are right in your path; you’ll pick them up automatically as you make your routes later on, assuming you’ve been wounded.
The second run-back will feature a sniper in the building, so fire a rocket up and over the garbage dumpster and guide it into his little window. With that done, replace the second wave of flipmines and grab another group of citizens to bring along. The caveat here is that a Combine Elite will drop one of the trains in the trainstation, forcing you to take a longer route up and around the building, where you and your wards will be closer to the windows that the Combine like to jump through. Be especially wary of shotgun-wielding foes, as they can quickly kill off your soldiers if you let them; it’s a good idea to quicksave before you start walking past these windows.
The third runback will be plagued by a Combine tank; again, use your rocket launcher and the infinite rocket ammo box to take it down. If you duck down behind the dumpster or the ammo box, you should be immune to the damage from its own rockets. After that, your task is almost complete; just ferry a couple more groups of civilians over to the train stations. When Barney comes along for the ride, you’ll know you’re almost done, so get him and the last group over to Alyx, then head out for your train!
Strider Was A Cool Game
Last, but not least, you’ve got a final challenge to deal with as you attempt to take on the strider that invades the trainyard as you and Alyx attempt to bust out of City 17. You can’t actually kill it until you manage to get a supply of rockets, and reaching the rockets here is going to be a Rube Goldbergian production.
After the strider attacks you at the wheel that raises the gate, hide behind the metal sheeting nearby and wait for it to blast down the nearby container that will allow you to move on. Around the corner from that, wait for its laser to kill the two Combine soldiers that drop down from the ceiling, then poke around to find another container near the health station. Head through there, then find the half-fallen container that effectively forms an upwards ramp.
When passing through the next container, try to blast your way through with your grav gun before the strider gets a chance to blast the side of the container; if it does so, the headcrab missiles will pop open, revealing toxic crabs. Just run past them before you get caught in their venomous clutches, then turn left and run up the next ramp to reach the upper level here. Make the small jump over to the upper level of the containers, then sprint and jump to the upper walkway here. Now would be a good time to save your game, preferably after you avail yourself of the health station here.
With that done, blast the explosive barrels nearby, then dash forward and duck behind one of the low-lying barriers on the edge of the walkway; it’ll protect you from the strider’s fire. Kill the soldier that appears above you, then dash forward and grab the flipmine with your alt-fire to destroy it. You’ll need to do this a couple more times before sprinting ahead and dropping down behind another large container, that the strider will attempt to kill you with by smashing it into the wall. Before it can do so, run forward and to the right to drop down to the gated-off area nearby.
After the first two soldiers are dead, and all of the explosive barrels here are smashed, run forward and eliminate the flipmines in your path. Off to your left, you’ll find a small gap between two of the trains that you can head through to find another platform; grab the armor from the crates, then make a mad sprint up the ladder here to finally reach the rocket ammo.
Killing the strider at this point should hopefully be fairly easy, assuming you have enough health to survive a couple of blows from the beast. To do so, just fire a rocket off to the side of the platform (timed to coincide with the end of the strider’s gun salvos), then dart out so that you can see the beast and guide the rocket into his gaping maw. Repeat this process six or seven times to finish off the beast, and you’ll be able to climb down the nearby ladder to reach Alyx once again. When she’s got the train ready, hop onto the rear to get going, and get ready to wait another six months or so for Episode II.
Don’t forget that there’s a trailer for Episode II that plays after the end of the credits. Just let your computer run the credits, then sit and wait for it to drop back to Windows; the trailer should start automatically, although it can take a few minutes to chunk through your processor.