xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx FAQ TITLE: The Special Secrets and Strategies Guide for Half-Life 2 (PC version) COPYRIGHT INFO: This FAQ is copyright (c) 2004, 2005 by Stanley E. Dunigan (firstname.lastname@example.org). This FAQ may be posted and used anywhere by anyone as long as it's unaltered, but always check GameFAQs.com or Neoseeker.com for the latest version. Also, check the Universal Hint System website (www.uhs-hints.com) for my complete Half-Life 2 hint file (now available). FAQ DESCRIPTION: This FAQ isn't a walkthru of any sort, but only contains details on super- special secret areas, big shortcuts, and inobvious strategies for tough fights. I thought of making it while playing through the game on Hard difficulty without any cheats, and that's the sort of thing that it's most useful for, since so many parts of the game are significantly harder when played that way. For instance, most gunship fights and all three antlion guard encounters are in here. Hopefully, this FAQ will be useful to those who don't want to use walkthrus but sometimes get stuck in very tough areas. If you have a super-special secret or strategy that I don't (or if you have an improvement for one that I have), send me an e-mail at the address listed in the copyright section. VERSION 2.00 (3/2/05) NOTES AND EXTRAS: I've added in two improvements sent in by DJKnugget for the cell block D8 battle tip that has you making a crate staircase to get up onto a safe balcony. VERSION 1.95 (2/18/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version adds in another tip for the big fight near the end of Anticitizen One where you need to protect Alyx while she lowers the generator's shielding. This tip is my own, but was enhanced by a tip sent in by "First Last". VERSION 1.9 (2/3/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: Stealth-X wrote in with some tips on taking Dog's "ball" a lot further in the game than the flooded mineshaft. Also, Brecht Claeys sent in some more tips, including one about keeping certain APCs in Chapter 4 from firing on you by ignoring them. VERSION 1.8 (1/24/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: In this version, I added Skys_end's Chapter 6 tip about getting Dog's rollermine "ball" from Chapter 5 and carrying it into Ravenholm and using it to distract zombies. Also, I made a separate Chapter 6 tip for dealing with the fast zombies while waiting for Grigori's lift. It has three different strategies, including my drain-pipe-blocking strategy, Owen Graupman's nearby- ledge strategy, and a new strategy of mine that may be the best of all. VERSION 1.7 (1/17/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version added Brecht Claeys' Chapter 8 tip about deactivating the antlions in the sandy area before looting it. VERSION 1.6 (1/09/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version included: * improved Chapter 3 tip on the manhack/explosive barrel room's secret area * added Fang Xianfu's info to the Chapter 4 hunter-chopper takedown strategy * added note about holding sentry gun in cell block D8 battle (3rd strategy) VERSION 1.5 (1/02/05) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version added Owen Graupman's Ravenholm fast zombie tip as a contributor note to my tip on blocking fast zombies. Also in those tips, I had to correct my advice on blocking the drain pipes for the final area where Grigori sends the lift across to you. VERSION 1.4 (12/24/04) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version mainly had two contributions by John Richie plus something I thought up based on his ideas. Check the two Chapter 9 tips on dealing with the antlion guards in Nova Prospekt and the new Chapter 10 tip on dealing with the Siege of Cell Block D8. Also, note that my complete Half-Life 2 hint file is now available for online viewing and downloading at www.uhs-hints.com (the Universal Hint System main website). VERSION 1.3 (12/20/04) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version included the following changes: * changed contributor name "FlexibleRP" to "Kusanagi" by request of contributor * added tip about using stuff to block pipe-climbing fast zombies in Chapter 6 * added Bernd Wolffgramm's tip on the second antlion guard in Chapter 9 VERSION 1.2 (12/19/04) NOTES AND CREDITS: This version of the FAQ was created solely to incorporate a great tip sent in by Kusanagi. It's now the first Chapter 4 tip, so check it out! VERSION 1.1 (12/15/04) NOTES AND CREDITS: Besides correcting a dumb spelling error and expanding on the FAQ description a little, I've added the following: * Neoseeker.com to the list of official websites for this FAQ * note about the quicksave and quickrestore keys * Madcow11's tip for Chapter 8's lighthouse gunship battle * bug note for Chapter 8's big two-gunship battle at Nova Prospekt * note about barricade possibilities in the Chapter 11 generator area * strategies for dealing with the ground turrets in Chapter 12 * strategy for the trap room with holes in the walls in Chapter 12 * tip about the lookout tower guard in the Chapter 12 rooftop battles tips * note at the end of the Chapter 12 rooftop battles tips * armor-restoring strategy for the strider-avoidance area in Chapter 12 * debris-cover strategy for going up the big, slow elevator in Chapter 13 * strategy for handling the final battle in Chapter 14 I'd like to thank: * GameFAQs for posting version 1.0 of this FAQ so quickly * rorschach16 for being the first one to e-mail me about this FAQ * Neoseeker.com for being the first other website to request permission to post this FAQ * Madcow11 (The True Scou) for being the first one to write in with suggested improvements VERSION 1.0 (12/12/04) NOTES AND CREDITS: As of now, all of these secrets and strategies are ones I came up with on my own. I have noticed that some of them are in other FAQs, but I didn't get them from those FAQs originally, so I don't have anyone to credit right now but me. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx NOTE: In many of these tips, I refer to the quicksave and quickrestore keys. If you're not already intimately familiar with them, get that way at once! To find out (and/or change) what keys are defined for those functions, go under "Options" on the game's main menu, choose the "Keyboard" tab, and scroll down to the "Miscellaneous" section. *** Chapter 3: Route Kanal ^^^ Hard-to-get-to secret area In the big room with all the explosive barrels and manhacks in the fourth chapter section, the manhacks all come out of one certain vent shaft near the top of the room. You can get into that shaft and claim an armor battery if you can manage to carry an item with you up the big ladder and onto the big gray pipe. Drop the item on the gray pipe next to the large metal beam that's next to the manhacks' shaft opening. Jump onto your item and then the beam, and then across to the shaft opening (not forgetting to hit the Crouch key before you land in the shaft). The best way I've found to handle this whole situation is to not blow up the explosive barrels at all. As soon as you drop into the room, head down the ladder and drop into the shallow water below. It's very hard for manhacks to hack you if you're crouched in the water, and it's easy enough to whack them with the crowbar when they approach. Stay down there and whack manhacks until they're all destroyed, not forgetting to jump up every now and then to get a quick breath of air when you need to. Then climb up the ladder and move along the pipe until you get to where you need an item to jump onto. Look down and to the right to see an explosive barrel that's within reach if you crouch down and carefully pick it up. Set it gently in the right spot, then use it to jump to the vent shaft. *** Chapter 4: Water Hazard ^^^ Big shortcut at the closed gate that's opened by swinging beams NOTE: This is the first situation you encounter in the second chapter section. You know if you've played through this part before that the gate is opened by a bundle of large metal beams that are attached to the big crane that you can easily see towering up over the gate. Also, the beams are resting on a rather flimsy wooden platform on the side of the canal opposite the crane, and you get the beams to bash open the gate by blowing up some explosive barrels that are near the base of the platform the beams are on. Here's the shortcut, courtesy of contributor Kusanagi: you don't have to go all the way through the building and fight all the soldiers and manhacks to get to where you can blow up the barrels. Instead, stop and exit the airboat somewhere near the gate, then move to where you can lob an SMG grenade high into the air so that it drops near enough to the explosive barrels to detonate them. (Yes, you can have one SMG grenade by now if you got it from a certain lambda-marked secret stash in Route Kanal and didn't use it.) You need to stand in just the right spot and look up just the right amount to get it to work. Quicksave before you try and keep quickrestoring and trying until you get it. Some alternatives that I came up with include using frag grenades and the pistol. You can sneak carefully into the building and fill up on frag grenades from the first infinite grenade crate in there without having to fight anything. Then you can come back out here and toss frag grenades instead of the much rarer SMG grenades to send those metal beams swinging. Or you can walk up near the gate and use the HEV suit's zoom feature to spot the platform the metal beams are resting on, then back up to where you can see the vertical wooden supports for that platform. Use zoom mode to help you decide exactly where to aim, then de-zoom and use the pistol to shoot out the wooden supports. (Note that you'll be shooting through a large hole near the top of the gate.) *** Chapter 4: Water Hazard ^^^ Big shortcut at Gate 5, including total hunter-chopper avoidance In the third chapter segment, where Gate 5 is closed before you can get through it, look at the structures to the right of the gate to find a white handrail going along a raised cement walkway near the water. Find the small gap in the handrail near the right end of it. You can jump through that gap if you park your airboat next to it, exit the boat, and jump up onto the boat and then through the handrail gap. It's a tough maneuver to pull off, and may require many tries. Your airboat has to be parked in just the right position, and jumping around on it can accidentally push it away from that position. If you can make it, it's just a short jog along the walkway to reach the ladder that leads up to Gate 5's control room. The only problem is that you'll be skipping your first opportunity to get the .357 Magnum and a bunch of ammo for it. NOTE: After you open Gate 5, you could move on past the gate control tower to get to some of the areas you were supposed to come through from the other way to get stuff without having to worry about the helicopter showing up (just a few cops). NOTE: If you avoid "activating" the chopper here, you won't have to deal with it again until the next chapter section loads. That'll make the canal run that immediately follows Gate 5 nice and easy! *** Chapter 4: Water Hazard ^^^ Safe way to destroy the two APCs in one area Right before you get to the area where you can shoot down the chopper once and for all, you'll come to a place where there are two elevated APCs (black rocket-firing tanks) near a ramp you have to take. There's a way to carefully shoot both of the APCs without them being able to fire one rocket at you. Notice that to get to where you can see either of them, you have to pass a huge red-and-brown beached boat to your left. Get up on the narrow slanty bit of land between the boat and the water and slowly edge forward until you can see a small part of the first APC to the right of the wooden plank ramp that's just past the boat. If you do it just right, you can shoot that APC into scrap without it even seeing you, then reposition yourself carefully for the next one. For the second APC, back up and then approach slowly on the land to the right of the water (the side opposite the one you were on before). Slowly sneak forward until you can see a small part of the APC above the wood ramp and to the right of the ship's big rudder, then blast it! NOTE: It's hard to slowly maneuver the airboat into just the right position, and even harder to make it stay exactly there while you shoot. You'll have to quickly retreat behind the big red-and-brown boat (or quickrestore) if you accidentally go out too far and start taking fire from the APCs. *** Chapter 4: Water Hazard ^^^ Another way to handle the APCs in the same area Brecht Claeys wrote in again to tell me that once you get the gauss gun on the airboat, the APCs start acting a little funny. If you can't see them, they can't (usually) see you! Dumb, but true. So approach them while driving backward (or looking off to the side) so that you can pass them without seeing them. You can start doing this with the first APC in the seventh chapter section, but even if the APC isn't firing at you as you go toward the bridge backwards, the cop on the side will, and it's way too easy to back up into something that you can't get past without slow and careful maneuvering before you can get under the bridge. However, if you're familiar enough with the terrain there that you can back all the way up to the bridge without hitting anything, you can quickly blast the cop, turn around, and head on down the "road." The APC will start firing at you after you pass under its bridge, but it'll be very easy to zoom around the corner before it can hit you with much (or you can carefully move back out to where you can see a part of the APC and shoot it without it shooting you). A similar no-look technique can be used with the two APCs in one area mentioned in the previous Chapter 4 tip. You can drive into their area going forward as long as you keep looking to the right so they never come into your view. Drive all the way to the back and then make your way along until you're right along- side the vertical logs that hold up the ledge that the first APC is on. While facing away from the second one, slowly maneuver to where you can see a small part of the first one and shoot it to pieces. Then back up until you're against the bottom of the ledge that the second one is on and maneuver to get a shot at it. If you're careful, you can pull it off without ever coming under fire. (However, I still think my other way of using the big boat for cover is easier, just because I can always see where I'm going! *** Chapter 4: Water Hazard ^^^ Safe and easy way to finish off the hunter-chopper In the final chapter segment, where you're supposed to fight the chopper to the death in a big arena-like area near the dam, there's a great alternative way to do it. First, do *not* take the airboat out of the tunnel you go through to enter the large area where you fight the chopper. See all those logs strewn about the tunnel exit? They make it very difficult (though not impossible) to get the airboat back into the tunnel later. (If you want to do this, you need to hit the logs just right on their left side and keep pressing forward.) Park the airboat a ways back in the tunnel, then head out to the outdoor arena on foot. Go over to the right where you see a large red-and-brown boat lying around and find the partially buried concrete pipe near it. Crawl into the pipe's open end to find two health kits and an armor battery. What the nearby supply crates have depends on what your health and armor values are. If either is low, you'll get recharging items -- otherwise, just ammo. (Thanks to Fang Xianfu for confirming this.) Anyhow, pick up and carry every health pack and armor battery that you can't use now back to your hidey-hole one at a time. It's a good idea to drop the items on dry ground a ways back from the tunnel entrance. This is so you can heal up if you take damage later without having to leave the safety of the tunnel. (Note that this step can be slow and time- consuming, and isn't really necessary if you're careful later on. But better safe than sorry!) Now walk out toward the dam area until the alarm sounds, alerting the chopper to your presence. Immediately turn around and sprint back for the tunnel. Your auxiliary power will deplete very rapidly on this run, so seek cover (like inside the big cement pipe and next to the larger rock formations) to use while waiting for auxiliary power to recharge. When you're nearing the tunnel entrance, use the cement ledge along the right to get in more quickly and easily than log-hopping. Get back into your airboat and start shooting that chopper. Note that if you're sitting in the tunnel entrance, the chopper will often hover nearby and shoot you with its cannon, so you'll want to move back to just out of its range so you'll be safe while it's doing that. As soon as it stops, move forward to where you can shoot it as it flies by dropping mines (but be careful not to go over the logs, since it'll be a pain to get back into the tunnel if you do). Keep shooting the chopper as it flies by (and retreating when it shoots back) until it goes down. Nice and easy, huh? NOTE: Sometimes the chopper will hover and fire its cannon continuously at the tunnel entrance for a very long time. When this happens, try moving way back in the tunnel and then forward again. If that doesn't work, just wait it out. *** Chapter 6: "We Don't Go to Ravenholm..." ^^^ Fun tip for using Dog's ball in Ravenholm Skys_end wrote in with a fun thing you can do with Dog's ball. After Alyx tells Dog to throw something bigger when you're still in Chapter 5, pick up the rollermine ball with the gravity gun and start for the exit. Keep ahold of it as the Combine attacks and you are sent down the tunnel to Ravenholm. (It's a bit of a pain to climb the long ladder with, and I advise you to drop it, start up the ladder, then turn around and face down and suck it in with the gravity gun, then make your way the rest of the way up the ladder while facing the same way.) Once in Ravenholm, you can fire the mine at zombies to kill them in one shot, or you can have fun letting it roam around and distract zombies and kill headcrabs for you. It can't actually hurt zombies on its own, but they can't hurt it either, and it'll serve as a distraction while you casually crowbar- whack or shoot the zombies to death (or throw things at them with the gravity gun). In other words, the mine gives you a lot more time to decide how to dispose of zombies and to do it without rushing. This can be exceptionally useful in the areas where you're attacked by several fast zombies at once -- stand back and carefully pick them off one by one as they cluster around the mine. WARNING: You need to be very careful not to let anything explode next to the mine, or it'll blow up, too. Also keep it away from fire. A small amount of water won't hurt it, but it'll blow up if you submerge it too far (like if you drop it into the big underwater passage in the mineshaft area). NOTE: It can often be easier to throw the mine ahead to where you know you're going to go rather than trying to carry it there. The car-crusher area is one example -- just toss the mine through the window you know you're going for, then take the car-crusher ride to get up there yourself. The part where you ride Grigori's lift across is even more important. You can't carry the mine across with you on the lift due to invisible barriers that it can't pass through. What you need to do is stand next to the lift and fire the mine toward the church at a very steep angle (nearly straight up) so that it goes over the invisible barriers and lands in the church yard. That way you can take the mine with you all the way to the mineshaft area. TIP: In the big headcrab-infested room at the bottom of the first mineshaft, you can drop your rollermine to the floor to let it slowly but surely finish off all the headcrabs for you. You could also use it to distract all the headcrabs while you make a run for the exit. (You probably won't want to go to the trouble of taking it past the water-filled shaft that's just ahead, anyway.) CONTRIB NOTE: Stealth-X wrote in with several tips on taking the rollermine further along in the game. To get it past the underwater tunnel, you have to use the gravity gun to toss it high into the air as you're falling into the water, then quickly surface and nab the mine before it falls into the water, too. Carefully hold onto it while skimming along the top of the flooded shaft so that it doesn't go too far underwater and blow up. This works, but I found that it wasn't *nearly* worth all the trouble. Most of your enemies for awhile ahead will be Combine soldiers, and they and the rollermine ignore each other (and it's too easy for the mine to get blown up by a soldier's grenade). Also, try and imagine what a pain it is to take the mine along during the entire jeep run in Chapter 7 and early Chapter 8. Sure, you can set it on top of the jeep and get in quick in order to trick it into sticking, but it'll keep zapping the jeep constantly even though it doesn't have any electrical charge! And that's not to mention all the invisible barriers that you have to toss it around or over. I've heard that you can take the rollermine all the way to the third and final antlion guard encounter in Chapter 9, but I didn't take it past Chapter 8 because it just got to be *way* more trouble than it could ever possibly be worth (especially since it's such a distraction for your antlion army as you assault Nova Prospekt). *** Chapter 6: "We Don't Go to Ravenholm..." ^^^ Blocking some of the fast zombies near the elevator In the third chapter section, soon after Father Grigori gives you your very first shotgun, you'll jump into a water tank and then climb two ladders to get to an area where a bunch of fast zombies converge on your position. Before you climb those ladders and attract the zombies, first look around for any red drain pipes that you can get to -- those are what zombies love to climb. You'll find that you can get to two red drain pipes from the lower areas that you explored prior to jumping in the water tank. The first one is down on the lowest ground level, between a bunch of white pipes and a fence. (And no, you can't build a box staircase to get over the fence. I've tried.) The second one is behind the building that you enter that has all the stairs you climb. What you want to do is find all the boxes in that building and stack several of them around the base of each drain pipe. That way the zombies can't use those drain pipes to come at you from all directions. When those two drain pipes are box-blocked, go on back up the stairs in the building and on across to the water tank and then climb the ladders to get to the zombie attack area. Now all you have to do is stand near the drain pipe that's attached to the platform you're on and shoot down at zombies as they climb it -- there's no danger of any of them leaping up behind you. (Remember that a couple more appear and climb the drain pipe after you summon the elevator.) *** Chapter 6: "We Don't Go to Ravenholm..." ^^^ 3 good ways to handle the zombie attack while waiting for Grigori's lift For the area where you'll be on a rooftop platform waiting for Father Grigori to send you his lift, you can do the same sort of thing as in the above tip. You'll have to pick up some furniture and/or boxes from the room with all the headcrabs (and the rooms before, which you can still reach) and carry it across the roofs with you one piece at a time and drop it down into the area you're going to. Be sure to drop at least six things down there before you drop down yourself. One red drain pipe you want to stack stuff at the base of is near the small rail fence with the break in it, and you can find the other one by going around behind the buildings. Be sure to stack at least two large things side- by-side at each drain pipe base and then put one more large thing on top of your stack. You need a tall, sturdy barricade that the zombies can't easily knock over or push aside. When you get up to the rooftop, your blockades should stop the first two fast zombies, and the others won't even appear! (If the zombies do manage to push your stuff aside and start climbing the drain pipes, you can restore your save and see if it happens again -- maybe they just got lucky once.) Owen Graupman wrote in with another interesting way to handle this area. Don't bother blocking any drain pipes -- just head for the roof where the lift will arrive. Once there, find where Father Grigori is standing to talk to you and jump over there. You can't get over the fence, but you can land on a rocky ledge next to it. The advantage of this is that none of the fast zombies can get to you over there, and you can pick them off at your leisure. When they're all down, drop down carefully to the ground and make your way up to the rooftop again. (The only disadvantage is that you have to use a lot of ammo shooting the zombies if you do things this way.) Another way that I found to be very easy and ammo-conservative is to use the ledge mentioned in the above paragraph and the things below it to drop safely down to the street right before the zombie attack starts, and then back up into the nearby dead-end corner. You need to have a large item with you (radiator, rollermine ball, sawblade, whatever) that you can throw at the zombies with the gravity gun as they appear ahead of you. This is easy to handle because they can only come at you from one direction, and it's easy to quickly suck up your throwing item between zombies. Once they're all dead, head all the way back up to the rooftop and take the lift. (NOTE: The rollermine ball of Dog's is the best to do this with because it can be used to distract the fast zombies as well as crush them. See an earlier Chapter 6 tip for all the details.) CONTRIB NOTE: Brecht Claeys wrote in to remind me of how easy the "standard" method of handling this fast zombie attack is, so I thought I'd go ahead and put it in. Stay on the rooftop and find the drain pipe (the one furthest from the lift's release brake handle) that the zombies will start climbing. As they climb, shoot them when they near the top of the pipe with either the shotgun or Magnum .357. Most of the zombies that arrive before the lift does will come up that one drain pipe, though a couple of them may come up the other one toward the end. If you're hearing a drain pipe being climbed and there are no zombies climbing the one you're watching, quickly run over to the other one. *** Chapter 7: Highway 17 ^^^ Shortcut for entering first optional house At the first house with a thumper next to it that you come to in the second chapter section, you're supposed to enter it through the cellar door and then figure out how to get up onto the house's main floor. However, you can open the front door without ever entering the cellar. Go around the side of the house left of the front door and break out the small window there with the crowbar. Then throw a frag grenade in through that window so that it bounces off an inside wall and goes toward the door. That'll destroy the board that's holding the door closed. (If you then enter through the front door instead of the cellar, the poison zombie won't even appear in the bedroom at all!) *** Chapter 7: Highway 17 ^^^ Shortcut for gunship battle just past Northern Petrol Right after you get past the big Northern Petrol area and are heading up the highway once again, a gunship will appear and attack. If you're on Easy difficulty and have three RPG rockets, you can retreat back to the Northern Petrol buildings and take cover there. You'll have to quicksave after every rocket hit and quickrestore after every miss to make sure you destroy the gunship. If you're on Normal or Hard difficulty, read on. Quicksave your game after you make the ramp jump and can see the left turn in the highway ahead that's blocked with car debris. What you want to do is ram your way through the debris without stopping. Getting out of the jeep to shoot down the gunship or to use the gravity gun to clear the wreckage is time- consuming and will get you badly shot up, especially on Hard difficulty. The wrecked cars provide little cover from the gunship, since it can constantly circle around to where it can shoot you no matter where you're crouched. What you want to do as you approach the wreckage is steer to the right around the first two wrecked cars that are in the road, then hit the blue car straight-on. (NOTE: The blue car is just to the right of the white van with the infinite rocket crate.) It's a difficult maneuver, and you'll probably have to quickrestore and try again several times. If you hit the main wreckage area wrong, you could overturn the jeep or get it stuck on top of a car to where you can't go forward or backward. But if you hit the blue car just right, you can push it forward and then get around the last of the wreckage. (You may have to stop, go back a little, and then push forward in turbo mode after you hit the blue car.) NOTE: If you overturn the jeep when it's totally or nearly past the wreckage, get out and turn it back upright with the gravity gun and try to continue on without quickrestoring. You may still be able to make it without taking too much damage. *** Chapter 7: Highway 17 ^^^ Making the gunship battle at the bridge easier When you deactivate the train tracks' force fields and the gunship shows up, stay in the small downstairs room near the force field control room and shoot the gunship from there. The two windows in the room are indestructible, and the doorway is a great place to shoot rockets at the gunship from since it flies right by there and you can quickly duck into cover when needed. This is a lot better than trying to get all the way back to the nearest infinite rocket crate while the gunship is swooping around and shooting at you. The only problem is that unless you're on Easy difficulty and never miss, you'll run out of rockets before the gunship can be destroyed. The way to solve this problem is to import the five loose rockets that are lying around next to the nearest infinite rocket crate before you shut off the train tracks' force field. After blasting all the soldiers in the entire area, including in the force field control room, carefully make your way back along the bridge's structure to the supply hut with the infinite rocket crate. This is very time-consuming and tedious, but you'll need to pick up and carry one spare rocket at a time all the way back to the room you're going to shoot the gunship from. It'll be worth the trouble, especially if you're on Hard difficulty. NOTE: If you're playing on Normal difficulty, you'll only need to carry over two rockets to use as spares. If you're on Hard, you'll need to carry along four extra rockets. Also, remember to quicksave after every successful rocket hit on the gunship and quickrestore after every miss. *** Chapter 8: Sandtraps ^^^ Getting into position for the gunship battle early In the second chapter section, as soon as you park your jeep in the resistance base's garage, head straight for the lighthouse. When you get inside, use the gravity gun to move the two large wooden crates so that they block the doorway. That way no soldiers can run into the lighthouse after you. Then run up the stairs to the top floor where the infinite RPG and SMG ammo crates are. Fill up on rockets, then get up on the lighthouse roof and fire rockets at the soldiers down below as they're dropped off. This is a much easier way to deal with the soldiers, plus you'll be right next to the infinite rocket crate when the gunship shows up. CONTRIB NOTE: Madcow11 (The True Scou) wrote in to say that it's possible to use RPG rockets to blow up the large black troop-carrying containers that the dropships fly in with before they land and release the troops. That's true, but it takes 4 rockets to do this no matter what difficulty you're playing on, so be sure to get up to the infinite rocket crate ASAP! NOTE: When fighting the gunship, stay at or near the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the lighthouse roof until the gunship circles around to where it's closest to you, then strike and retreat. *** Chapter 8: Sandtraps ^^^ Deactivating the antlions in the large sandy area Brecht Claeys sent in a tip for dealing with the large sandy area where you have to make your way around without touching the sand to avoid antlion attacks. What you do is make your way as quickly as you can to where you're near the two elevated buildings. Don't bother trying to get to them yet -- just head down the slanty log and then use the gravity gun with junk to make your way along the sand past the thumper and to the ledge that leads over to the antlion guard's area. Once you're up on that ledge, look back toward the thumper and locate some crates that are close enough to draw in with the gravity gun. You'll want a large crate and a small one (an unopened supply crate will do). Drop both crates down onto the first grassy ledge in the series that leads down to the antlion guard's area, then drop down onto that ledge. The idea is that you've now gone through a trigger point that disables the antlions in the previous area, so use the boxes to climb back up so that you can go back through the entire area and loot it at your leisure. That's sure a *lot* easier than trying to carefully get to all the supply boxes and houses with the constant antlion threat. *** Chapter 8: Sandtraps ^^^ Dealing with the huge antlion guard There are two non-standard ways to deal with the antlion guard, one of which is a real pain. It involves bringing the large wooden plank you can find on a grassy hilltop near the sheds all the way to the antlion guard's area and carefully setting it up so that it can be used as a ramp to return to one of the grassy ledges that you drop down to get to the antlion guard. I only mention it because I went to a lot of trouble to devise this solution before I thought up the second one. After making sure your suit's auxiliary power is at max charge (the meter isn't showing), drop down to the ground and sprint past the spot where the antlion guard rises up. Your suit power should last until you're almost to the locked door with the mounted gun above it. Continue past the door, jumping over the large branch tangle, and hide behind the big rock in the corner. The antlion guard and most or all of his summoned drones should be kept busy by the resistance guy at the machine gun, so all you have to do is just wait under cover of the rock until the antlion guard is dead. *** Chapter 8: Sandtraps ^^^ Some advice for the big Nova Prospekt entry area battle with two gunships Unfortunately, there's no way-easy way to handle these gunships, but I do have a few very important tips. First, use a combination of bugbombs and crossbow darts to deal with all the soldiers on the three guard towers before you climb up the steps and thereby trigger the appearance of the first gunship. There are also two soldiers on a guard tower a ways past the stairs that you can kill early. When you're ready, quicksave your game and then run up the stairs. Let your antlions deal with the two soldiers who magically appear to your left, and keep running until you reach the left turn in the road. At that point, look for a small guardhouse with two soldiers in it and a lot of breakable windows. This is a good spot to hole up and start firing at the first gunship. NOTE: There's a rocket setting on a supply crate near the corner with the guardhouse. Nab the rocket and carry it into the guardhouse with you so you'll have another spare. First, use the gravity gun to move the desk out of the corner near the armor recharger. That corner is a good safe place to stand where the gunship can't shoot you through the windows. Use it as cover after you fire a rocket at the gunship from the doorway (wait for the gunship to fly right by to give you an easy shot). For maximum results, observe the usual quicksave-after-hit-and- quickrestore-after-miss rule until you run out of rockets. On every difficulty but Hard, you should be able to take down the first gunship from here. (If you can remember which is the first one after the second one shows up, that is.) NOTE: Before you leave the safety of the guardhouse, shoot out the windows of the elevated guardhouse that you can see across the street from the doorway and then use bugbait to send your antlions over there to tear up the soldiers (or shoot them through the broken windows). Next, run back the way you came to the big overhang area near the steps where the two soldiers magically appeared before. You can grab another rocket there and use the overhang as cover while using it on a gunship. Then you need to run and dodge back to the guardhouse. After catching your breath (letting your suit recharge its auxiliary power, that is), quicksave again and then make a run for the area with the infinite rocket crate. On the way, duck into the large trash bin that's turned on its side and has two health packs in it. This is another spot that's safe to stand and rest in. Before you make the run from there to the stairs that lead up to the infinite rocket crate, you'll want to deal with the two soldiers who are up on a raised catwalk across from where you are now. To do that, duck out of your cover long enough to toss bugbait toward the soldiers, then duck quickly back in. Repeat if necessary. When the soldiers are confirmed kills, it's time to run for the safety of the little niche in the corner that's directly underneath their catwalk and conveniently close to the rocket crate. That niche isn't perfect cover, since the gunships can fly to where they can shoot you, but you have a little room to move back and forth, so use that to dodge gunship fire while waiting for your shots. (Also, toss bugbait whenever an antlion comes near you to use him as a distraction.) As always, wait for a gunship to fly into range, then let loose with a rocket and duck back into cover as soon as it connects. Even on Hard difficulty, it shouldn't take too long for you to down both gunships since they were softened up by your earlier attacks. BUG NOTE: In a recent playthru of this section of the game, the exit was opened up when the *first* gunship was destroyed, and I was able to move on to Chapter 9 without shooting down the second gunship. This is probably a game glitch, so don't count on it (but watch for it in case it happens). *** Chapter 9: Nova Prospekt ^^^ Another antlion guard There are two good ways to deal with the antlion guard that appears when you drop down into the shower area at the beginning of the second chapter section. The easiest is probably to drop down to the floor and then run for the wall hole you see in the distance, with your gravity gun ready to blast junk out of your way. Make your way through two wall holes and then on to the back of the area, where the exit doors are partially blocked by debris. The good news is that the doors open outward, so hop up onto the debris, open the doors, and crouch-walk through them. As soon as you land on the other side, close the doors again if possible. NOTE: The antlion guard probably won't follow you out through the doors, but I've seen him do it once, so why risk it? Use the gravity gun to blast junk back into the shower area if you need to in order to close the doors. The other way to deal with the antlion guard is a bit more time-consuming and ammo-consuming, but it can be fun for those who have just *got* to kill the freak. Before you jump down to the floor of the shower area, look to the right to see three large wooden crates stacked nearby. Using the gravity gun, pull two of them over to you and set them down, one on top of the other, on the floor near the left end of the railing (left as you face it). Set them so that the boxes are sticking out lengthwise. Then, after saving your game, carefully hop the railing and crouch-walk slowly outwards on the top box. Your goal is to get the antlion guard to see you and charge in while you're still able to jump back over the railing to the safety of the walkway beyond it. If you make it, back up against the wall so the antlion guard can't head-butt you, then let him have it with crossbow darts, bullets, or whatever. (Just be careful with explosives since he's so close to you.) CONTRIB NOTE: Bernd Wolffgramm wrote in with an easier way to kill this antlion guard. To get him to spawn in his starting area, just jump up onto the railing and move around a little on its left side (don't mess with any boxes), then drop down safely back on the walkway. Head back along the corridor until you can see (and shoot) the antlion guard through the fence-mesh-covered window. The best way to do this (inspired by a tip from John Richie for the third antlion guard) is to go back to the previous area and grab one of the two sentry guns and set it upright again. (Try grabbing onto it from the bottom and gently dropping it while holding it over the edge of a table.) Once you've got the gun upright, carry it to where it can see the antlion guard through the fence mesh, then wait until it shoots the big beast to death. NOTE: Even if you don't kill the antlion guard, you can still raid his shower area for supplies. After you move on a ways past that area, you can return to it and find that the antlion guard has mysteriously vanished. *** Chapter 9: Nova Prospekt ^^^ Third and final antlion guard This one isn't too hard to deal with if you start hitting it with RPG rockets, SMG grenades, and/or crossbow darts as soon as it appears, but it's much easier and more ammo-conservative to immediately run for the junk-blocked exit hole as soon as you drop down into the room (it's a ways along the wall to your left). Jump up onto the green dumpster, then crouch-walk your way over it and through the hole, blasting the other green dumpster with the gravity gun to get it out of your way. Safe! John Richie wrote in with a tip on rat-tat-tatting this antlion guard with a sentry gun. The way to do that is first kill off all the soldiers in the area, then take a fallen-over sentry gun up to the control room with the broken window where you drop down to the antlion guard's area. Drop the sentry gun and then block the stairs with all the loose junk in the room so that your loyal antlions won't be able to get to where they can knock your gun over. Then carefully set the sentry gun upright by picking it up by the bottom, lifting it up high, and pushing it against a wall before dropping it. Set the thing so that it's near the left end of the window hole and facing straight outward, then quickly go through the window hole to the right of the turret (don't let it shoot you in the back). Run for the exit hole and wait safely past it for the sentry gun to shoot down the antlion guard. If the sounds of shooting stop before you hear the antlion guard die, move around a little and maybe peek out into his room to stir him up. After he's dead, you can go back and pick up all the dead soldiers' dropped guns (but watch out for your sentry gun shooting you -- maybe throw an explosive barrel through the window hole to knock it over). *** Chapter 10: Entanglement ^^^ Sentry gun fun After you get through using your two sentry guns in the control room and Alyx drops the nearby force fields for you, take *both* of your sentry guns along! It's a pain, but you can use the gravity gun to pick up the sentry guns one at a time and throw them ahead of you. This is particularly useful in the big room with the electrified water -- just toss the sentry guns over to the other side and then go about getting over there yourself. Also, since it's hard if not impossible to get back across the electro-water room, toss across any portable supplies that you might need later before you cross. If you go to the trouble of taking both sentry guns with you all the way to cell block D8, you'll then have *five* sentry guns you can set up for the big siege there. That should make things considerably easier (especially in combination with the following tip for that combat). You know what I'm going to say now, right? Okay, here goes: after the big cell block D8 battle is over, take *all five* sentry guns with you when you leave. Big pain, but very cool when you get to the big teleporter chamber. However, be very careful when leaving cell block D8. As you go down a hallway with Alyx, a "LOADING" sign will come up and the next chapter section will load. ALL SENTRY GUNS STILL IN THE PREVIOUS SECTION WILL TURN HOSTILE TO YOU!!! This is very, very bad, so be sure to use the gravity gun to shoot all five sentry guns down to the doors that are past the "LOADING" hotspot before you cross it and the next area loads. Also, further on are several doors that permanently close behind you the moment you go through them. Be sure to toss your sentry guns ahead of you in those cases, too. If you do, you'll be able to set up a whopping *eight* sentry guns in the big teleporter chamber! You can easily arrange them to handle all incoming soldiers, plus you'll have the very great pleasure of watching them cut down all of the Combine elite who rush in right after you enter the safety of the teleporter field. *** Chapter 10: Entanglement ^^^ Barricading a hallway for the Siege of Cell Block D8 The key to doing this right is to toss lots of stuff down to the lower cell block floor where the battle will take place *before* you go down there yourself. Start by tossing down the sentry gun(s) you brought with you, then raid the small office on the upper floor for some furniture. Even though it's hard to get out through the office door, you do want the big desk down there for barricade material. The chair isn't very useful, but all the green file cabinets are. Once all that's down in the siege area, go back the way you came -- all the way back to the electrified-water room -- and look for other things you can use for barricade material or supplies. Take any medkits and armor batteries you find, as well as ammo. There's also a large loose door at one point that could serve as barricade material (though I never used it). Once all that's tossed down to the siege area, drop down there yourself and round up all the supplies and barrels you can find. Then choose yourself a spot to fortify. The two short hallways are the best, and the one with the infinite SMG ammo crate is my favorite because you can crouch next to the crate for cover and you can resupply your SMG from it. (On the other hand, you can stand in a sentry storage slot in the other hallway, and have easy access to health and armor rechargers.) I always set the desk to block one end of the hallway and the two large file cabinets lying on the floor to block the other end. Then I start setting up sentry guns, using wooden crates and barrels to "nestle" them into their slots and make it harder for the soldiers to knock them over. NOTE: Placing the last sentry gun from the local storage cases will immediately start the siege, so get everything else in place before you pick this gun up and place it. If you do everything right and the soldiers don't get any grenades tossed into your little fortified area (which they usually don't), you should just be able to crouch under cover and wait it out (though you may have to take care of a manhack or two). *** Chapter 10: Entanglement ^^^ Alternative way to handle the Siege of Cell Block D8 There are just enough wooden crates in the siege area (if you don't break any) to build a 3-2-1 crate "staircase" up to one of the balconies. That means you pile three crates in a stack next to the balcony, two crates in a stack next to that, and then one crate by itself next to the two-crate stack. Then you can carefully jump your way up onto the balcony. (DJKnugget suggested making a 2-1 pile of crates and carefully setting an upright barrel on top of the 2 pile. This could be handy if any of the six starting crates got smashed.) NOTE: Choose a side balcony that you know soldiers won't be entering, like the one that's right above the gate that Alyx opens after the siege is over. Of course, before you go up there, you'll need to use the gravity gun to shoot up all your sentry guns and whatever supplies you want up there. You won't need any barricade material, but you might want to toss up a few barrels to set next to your sentry guns to make them harder to knock over. Soldiers will be throwing grenades up there. (Or instead of using barrels, just set up your guns and wait safely at the back of the balcony until they're knocked over, then use the gravity gun to pull them to you and crouch-walk forward to set them back up again.) Remember that placing the last sentry gun from the local storage cases is what starts the battle, so get everything else done before you do that. Due to the difficulty of climbing your crate "staircase" while carrying the sentry gun, you can either set it on the ground nearby to cover you as you ascend, or toss it up to the balcony and then quickly hop up there before the soldiers can start shooting you. CONTRIB NOTE: DJKnugget wrote in with a slightly better way to handle things once you're up on the balcony. Only have one sentry gun up there with you, and hold it high in the air (at about a 45-degree angle) while standing (or crouching) back a ways from the railing. This works pretty well, though I got injured a bit doing it, and had to dodge a few grenades. (If you only have one turret up there with you, why not set up the other ones as described in the next strategy before getting up on the balcony?) *** Chapter 10: Entanglement ^^^ Yet another way to handle the Siege of Cell Block D8 John Ritchie wrote in with the idea of using the sentry gun storage containers to remove the need for barricading a hallway. What you do is take the three sentry guns from their storage containers and then put them right back in, but facing outward so they'll shoot any soldiers who come near the containers. (I do this by dropping the sentry guns outside the containers, then walking around so that I'm standing directly in front of them before I pick them up again.) You'll want to set the guns in the leftmost and rightmost containers plus either of the ones in the middle. You'll be standing in the other middle container with the pulse rifle or something like that ready. This works pretty well because the soldiers can't knock over the sentry guns, plus even if a soldier does stand right in front of your container and shoot you, your turrets on either side will take him down fairly quickly if you don't. You won't need to worry about grenades or manhacks unless they appear right in front of you, in which case you can quickly dispose of them with the gravity gun. This process is nearly as safe as good barricading, and it's a lot easier to set up! NOTE: If you brought one or both of the sentry guns from the control room with you, hold one of them with the gravity gun while standing in a storage container. You can easily keep it between yourself and any soldiers or manhacks that come into view, and the soldiers will often waste their time trying to knock it over (they can't as long as you're holding it). Also, it's extra good to be holding the sentry gun so that it's facing left or right, not forward -- that way you can shoot around corners and take down approaching soldiers quicker. The only disadvantage is that you'll have to toss your sentry gun fast if you see a grenade land near you. (Though do remember that you can always heal up after the battle at all the health and armor rechargers, so it may be easier to just take the grenade damage as long as it doesn't kill you.) *** Chapter 11: Anticitizen One ^^^ Area where soldiers have two mounted guns in one place In the fifth section of this chapter, you'll go through a large underground tunnel where dozens of manhacks descend through a hole in the tunnel ceiling and attack. Past that is a narrow room with large breakable windows where a few more manhacks fly in and attack. Past that is the place where soldiers have two mounted guns set up. In order to take care of them without any casualties, jump out through the large breakable window furthest from the exit door. Use the pistol to blow up all the explosive barrels you see, then use the crossbow to snipe the rest of the soldiers, including the ones manning the machine guns. *** Chapter 11: Anticitizen One ^^^ The big fight where you're protecting Alyx while she lowers the generator's shielding This fight is really hard, especially on Hard difficulty. Fortunately, I've come up with some new tactics for it. See the NOTEs after the standard tactics for all the details. (Unfortunately, they *still* don't make it easy.) First, try your best to make it to this area with three or four resistance members still on your team. As soon as you get outside, find all the unset hoppers and set them up around the central area (where Alyx and her generator control room is) and quickly bust open the supply crates. That's about all you can do for preparation. Once the soldiers start arriving, stay with Alyx in her protected control booth, which also has health and armor rechargers. Don't just hide there, though, or you'll eventually be overrun. Frequently peek out long enough to shoot at soldiers as they approach. Don't waste too much ammo on long-distance shooting, or you'll run out of ammo. Use RPG rockets and grenades for distance killing, but save all your pulse rifle orbs for the end when several Combine elite show up. As soon as Alyx says to use the gravity gun to blast the generator core, do so and then run past it, through the gate, and duck behind cover until Alyx gets the gate closed. NOTE: There are several barricading possibilities here that might help if you're willing to go to the trouble to do them. Some of the best barricade material includes the large green filing cabinet in the room with the exit to the outside and the many large bed frames in the upstairs rooms. Grab those and whatever else you want to use and shoot them outside with the gravity gun before you go out there. Once you're out, you can do one of three things with your barricade material: 1) As soon as Alyx starts working at her control panel, totally barricade her in so that you're free to run around, fight, hide, and so on without having to worry about her getting surrounded and killed. The main problem there is that you'll be blocking your access to the health and armor rechargers. Also, your barricade has to be *really* good, with junk strewn and stacked all over to prevent soldiers from just standing nearby and shooting Alyx. Note that you can run back in the door you exited through, block it with something big that you can shoot over (like a bed frame turned on its side), then stand there and blast any soldiers who come into view. However, you'll be unable to help Alyx if she needs it, and soldiers tend to cluster around you and toss lots of grenades in. It's probably better to stay mobile, though you might want to try the barricaded-in method once just to see how it works for you. 2) Barricade yourself in with Alyx so that soldiers can't run right up to you and start shooting you from all angles. Do try to leave yourself room to shoot at nearby soldiers through the barricade material, and watch out for grenades. As in the #1 suggestion, you can easily get swarmed and killed, especially near the end. 3) Use the barricade material to partially or totally block the two blue force fields that soldiers will be coming in through. If you can keep them from ever approaching Alyx's control booth, you won't ever have to fight them. The main problem with this method is in getting enough material to block both force field entry points and getting it all set up before the soldiers start appearing. (Totally blocking both points is probably too hard, so concentrate on blocking one of them -- that would be a huge help by itself.) NOTE: I've found in recent playthrus that the best way to ensure success here is to remain mobile throughout the battle, running up to a soldier entry point and blasting the soldiers at fairly close range (but not too close, since you don't want the shotgun soldiers to damage you too quickly). After you finish off all the soldiers at one point, run back to Alyx's booth to heal up, then hit the other soldier point. This works pretty well, even on Hard difficulty, though you may have to try more than once. "First Last" sent in a tip that can make it even easier. It seems that killing off *all* the soldiers at a soldier entry point will immediately provoke another dropship to arrive and deposit more soldiers. What you could do is kill all of the soldiers at both entry points except one at each, and then wound those two so they'll be more timid about charging the booth. Your support troops will eventually shoot your straggler soldiers down, but you'll have bought some valuable time, and will end up fighting fewer soldiers while waiting for the generator's core to become vulnerable. *** Chapter 12: "Follow Freeman!" ^^^ Ground turret advice In the third chapter section, where you and Barney are running around the nexus building blasting orbs from three generators, you come across several turrets that pop up out of the ground when you pass through their blue alert lasers. There are several ways to deal with these turrets, and here are my suggestions for each one: 1) This first one is really easy. Just walk up to it and gently lob a frag grenade into its little niche. As long as you don't stand in its line of "sight," it won't shoot you. 2&3) The next two are together, with the second of the two covering the first one to prevent an easy sidestep-and-grenade-roll maneuver. I suggest running through the laser alerts and standing in a protective corner until both turrets deactivate, then running onwards. Sure, your team will get a little shot up, but it won't be too bad, and any medics on the team can help heal everyone. 4&5) These two turrets, which are near the first generator room you come to, are much easier. Tell your team to stay on the staircase, then pass through the laser alerts and stand to the side while rolling grenades into the turrets' niches. 6) The next turret is in an optional little side room with supplies. Use the gravity gun to pick up the large desk nearby and hold it in front of you as you crouch-walk toward the turret. Press the desk up against it and then drop it to totally block the turret. You can then easily grenade-roll it or just leave it. 7&8) These last two turrets are set up between the trap room with all the holes in the walls and one of the generator rooms. You could get the desk from turret #6's area and use it in the same way here, but pulling the same routine you did on turrets 2&3 is probably a lot quicker and easier. *** Chapter 12: "Follow Freeman!" ^^^ Strategy for the trap room with all the holes in the walls In the same chapter section where you encounter all the ground turrets is a room where the two doors are closed and sealed when you try to cross to the other side. Soldiers then start appearing in large quantities outside the room and running around to stand behind one door or the other, both of which will be cut open before long. I've found that the best strategy here is to stand next to the large hole in the wall that's just to the left of the room's far door (the first one that gets cut open) with the shotgun ready and double-barrel any soldier who runs by. Several will get by as you're reloading, so toss some frag grenades through the wall hole so that they bounce over to the right. That'll stir up some of the soldiers there, giving you another chance to shoot them. You should be able to finish off a lot of them before they get the door cut down. *** Chapter 12: "Follow Freeman!" ^^^ Rooftop combats after you and Barney scrag all three generator cores in the "nexus" building The rooftop can be brutal, as Alyx would say. The #1 most important thing to remember is that you can and should always retreat to the stairwell you came up for cover. The #2 most important thing is that there's an infinite rocket crate fairly near the door to the stairs. Keeping those things in mind, you shouldn't have much trouble on the roof. For starters, stay under cover while your team takes care of the nearby soldiers when you first exit to the roof. Then use the crossbow to shoot the soldier who's on the lookout tower way over on the other side of the area. Then, after you've filled up on rockets from the crate (and optionally moved the spare launcher that's near the crate to the ledge just behind the stairwell door), move along the roof far enough to activate the gunship. Hit it with one quick rocket as it rises into view, then run all the way back to the stairwell door. Stand in the doorway and wait for the gunship to fly by right in front of you, an easy target! Keep rocketing it as it flies past until it's down. (You'll probably have to run out to the infinite rocket crate a couple of times, especially if you didn't stash the spare launcher in the stairwell. Note that there's also a spare launcher at the bottom of the stairs if you didn't get it earlier.) After the gunship is down, run along the roof to where there are two unset hopper mines. Quickly set them up (anywhere in or near the area you find them) and run back to the infinite rocket crate. A dropship will be dropping soldiers nearby, and they'll come after you if you wait long enough. Rocket the ones that get past the hoppers, then fill up on rockets again and head on across to the skybridge area. When you reach it, quickly activate its control panel and then take cover nearby while the bridge gets settled. As soon as its gates open, run over and empty your RPG into the soldiers at the other end of the bridge, then retreat back to the infinite rocket crate to reload. Repeat as necessary. (There are a *lot* of soldiers over there!) NOTE: You could also fire a few pulse rifle energy orbs at them, since there are plenty around to restock with. Also, if you're partial to SMG grenades, there are some in a supply crate near the skybridge's control panel. *** Chapter 12: "Follow Freeman!" ^^^ Armor tip for the strider-avoidance area In the chapter section where you have to climb up in a ruined building while avoiding fire from a strider, it's worth noting that the scanners that harass you in this area never stop coming. Since destroyed scanners often drop armor batteries, you can just sit and wait in a safe spot for scanners to come to you. Keep destroying them with the gravity gun until your armor rating is 100! After you get to the infinite rocket crate and are ready to move on to the next area, make sure your armor is 100 and then maybe destroy a few more scanners to get a couple more armor batteries that you can throw ahead of you in the next area. There are several armor batteries already in the van in the underground parking area, though, so don't waste your time taking too many along. *** Chapter 12: "Follow Freeman!" ^^^ Tip for rocketing the two striders near the end of the chapter The roof area where the infinite rocket crate is has lousy cover, and there are two striders circling the area plus enemy soldiers in nearby buildings. Due to this, you should fill up on rockets and immediately run back down the stairs to the area with the two health chargers and one armor charger on one wall. You've got better cover there, so carefully rocket the striders and hide when they start shooting. (Another advantage of being down there is that you'll rarely have both striders targeting you at once. Also, you won't be in danger from the warp cannon blast that the second strider fires at the rooftop when the first strider goes down.) *** Chapter 13: Our Benefactors ^^^ Tip for dealing with the big "elevator" room At the beginning of the fourth chapter section, you'll quickly come to a large room with a big shaft in the middle and a red-light-green-light control panel on one of the railings around it. Using the panel to summon the elevator will also summon many soldiers, so before you do that, use the gravity gun to yank some vid consoles and set them next to the little drop-off that prevents you from going back down the hallway you came to this room from. That way, when you press the control to summon the elevator, you can quickly run back, jump up using the debris, and take cover in a hallway that the soldiers can't get to. (Also, there's a Combine recharger on the wall nearby.) As for going up the big elevator, my favorite way is to use the gravity gun to grab up every vid console and screen I can get to and pile them in a nearly complete circle in the center of the elevator platform. (Remember that if you took the advice in the previous paragraph, you can go back a room or two to get more barrier material.) Be careful not to activate the elevator while you're still arranging your cover. When you're ready, there should be one open end to the "circle" of debris and one more large console. Grab onto that console and back into the center of the debris circle and crouch there, holding the console with the gravity gun. You could drop it right in front of you, but if you're holding onto it the whole trip up, you can move it quickly to block incoming fire from soldiers who appear on ledges above you. *** Chapter 13: Our Benefactors ^^^ Tip for scragging the last strider of the game Use the gravity gun to hold one of the empty transport capsules in front of you as a shield (and as a projectile) as you make your way down the long, huge corridor that has the strider at the end. When you're nearing the strider area, make a left down a short dead-end path. After the strider moves forward a bit, make sure you're standing so that a huge metal column and an energy orb conduit are directly between you and the strider. After the soldiers are all down, you can just relax. Grab energy orbs from the conduit and fire them at the strider's exposed legs until it falls over in a heap. *** Chapter 14: Dark Energy ^^^ Final battle at the top of the dark fusion reactor As soon as you hop off the lift onto the top reactor platform, quickly move to where you can start tossing energy orbs at the blue-white spherical core of the reactor. You'll have time to hit it once and then destroy a couple of the shields before the gunships show up. When you hear them approaching, quicksave your game and move so that only the one over on the right side has a very clear shot at you (try to keep a metal pillar between you and the other one). No matter what difficulty you're playing at, you'll want to quickly destroy the gunship nearest you. It only takes two orb hits to do it, but it can be hard because the gunship is not a stationary target. Keep quickrestoring and practicing until you can hit the gunship twice out of your first three or four throws. Then go back to pummeling the reactor core and its shields while staying under cover. The other gunship tends to hover over on the other side of the area, so it shouldn't be much of a problem (and it'll instantly die when you blow up the core, anyway).