Go Back   Steam Users' Forums > Steam Game Discussions > H - L > Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-20-2012, 01:13 PM   #1
Solarmech
 
 
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Reputation: 2279
Posts: 7,915
The Military At Black Mesa (Repost)

The Military at Black Mesa

To start off there is a real question of nature of the military at Black Mesa. Opposing Force depicts the Hazardous Environmental Combat Unit being flow into Black Mesa a short time after the Resonance Cascade from Sanetgo Military Base in Arizona to join up with units clearly already on the ground. (While the H.E.C.U. is not "official" from VALVe, I see it as a difference that makes no difference in this case. So I will use the name created by Gearbox in referring to the units at Black Mesa). While forces may have been called into Black Mesa, the amount/nature of forces battled by Gordon indicate that there are forces station at Black Mesa itself or more accurately on top of Black Mesa before the start of the Cascade.

Proof of Boots on the Ground

Let's take a look at the military forces that are seen in Half Life 1 and start off with the heaviest thing we see, tanks. We see two tanks in action during the game in locations that are clearly on top of the mesa that Black Mesa resides in. While modern MBT's are fast, I find it rather difficult to believe that these Abrams (M1 or M1A1's I believe) tanks were called in and then deployed to the top of Black Mesa that quickly, unless the military base was just about next door. I think the best evidence that there are forces stationed at Black Mesa comes from where another Abrams tank that is found inside the facility itself in an area designated as "Armored Calvary Repair Bay". Unlike the other two tanks we see, this one has no crew and is clearly down for repairs or maintenance. This is a solid indication that this tank was stationed permanently at Black Mesa. There are other armor assets at Black Mesa as well. Blue Shift depicts an Abrams loaded on a train car. The only time this is done is if they are being transported and it looks like that tank was being shipped in. Three Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles are seen in the course of Half Life 1. Two are shooting at you, one delivering troops. Bradley's are about as fast the Abrams is and would have the same chances to get to Black Mesa as the tanks would.

Something else that points to military forces being stationed at Black Mesa are the bunkers that are encountered in the chapter "On a Rail". These large sandbag mini-fortresses are too large to have been built in just an hour or two. Particularly since the sandbags used to build them would have needed to have been filled at a different location and moved to the bunker site. The sandbag constructions clearly must have been at least partially in place ahead of time. There are other hints that troops were stationed at on top of Black Mesa. One is that there are a great number of crates and storage containers that are clearly military in origin in a great many places. AT least some of these containers where clearly was in place before the Resonance Cascade. You don't haul all that amount of supplies around for a short term clean up operation. Also when the H.E.C.U. is pulling out in "Forget about Freeman" the voice on the radio specifically states they are abandoning "the base". Even the announcement system gives some proof as one of the messages it can play is “Sergeant Bailey to topside checkpoint” while Gordon is heading down to the lab after getting his H.E.V. suit.

There is a “slight” oddity about the Bradley being at Black Mesa is that it used exclusively by the US Army, and we see forces being deployed by an Osprey, which is used only by the Marine Corps and the Air Force (in limited numbers). Then we a number of Apache attack helicopters, which again is used only by the US Army (The Marines use an updated version of the Vietnam era Cobra attack chopper called the Super Cobra). And of course Adrian Shepard star of Opposing Force is listed as being in the Marine Corps. The Real World explanation for why equipment from different branches of the military being used is that VALVe was not all that picky about being accurate and focused on it looking good.

The best reason In Game for the mix of equipment is that the H.E.C.U. draws troops and equipment from different branches of the US Military. The infantry units seem to draw heavily on US Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance units (Force Recon) as the call of "Go, Recon" is heard often and this ties in with what we see in Opposing Force. Several F-16's are seen in action after the Cascade, but I find it unlikely that those planes where an integral part of the H.E.C.U. It's more likely they are an asset that can be called in as needed. Due to the mix of branches at Black Mesa, the H.E.C.U. is almost certainly classified as a "special forces" unit and should be outside the normal chain of command of the US military. This places them under the United States Special Operation Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM), if the H.E.C.U. is part of any established chain of command at all, which they may not be.

After the Resonance Cascade, the H.E.C.U. goes on a killing spree and tries to eliminate the all but a few of the staff at Black Mesa. A couple of people seem to have been exempt for this "kill 'em all" order, Gordon Freeman being one of them. Now there is a question of why the order to kill everyone was given and who gave that order. There is no information given in game about the order other than it was to cover up the Resonance Cascade by killing all the witnesses. And this is only speculation by a member of the science staff. We never actually hear the exact orders that were given nor who gave them.

Breaking the (Military) Law

Of course if you think about it little, the order does not make a lot of sense on a number of levels. Killing the Black Mesa science teams only removes the civilian witnesses and leaves the military ones, unless it was planned that they be killed as well after the work at Black Mesa was done. The thing is, all those deaths could not be covered up. Someone (friends, family or colleagues) would notice that the personal Black Mesa where no longer around. And unless all the H.E.C.U. where killed, someone would eventually talk no matter what threats were made against them. And killing the staff was not needed from a secrecy point of view. To work in such a place as Black Mesa there are secrecy and confidentiality agreements that would have to be signed and violating those can get you in a massive amount of trouble. Keeping the Resonance Cascade quite would actually be easier than keeping the massacre of US civilian under wraps. Of course there is the point that killing the scientists would make it harder to deal with the invaders from Xen and to stop the growing Portal Storm. It's like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Another problem with the order to kill the Black Mesa staff is that it is an "illegal order". Illegal orders are those orders that break laws, violate treaties or are unconstitutional. The order to kill the staff clearly was an illegal order and members of the military given an illegal order are not to follow them and should report the person giving the order to the proper authorities. People following illegal orders can be court marshaled. With so many of the H.E.C.U. following the order to eliminate the staff it seems that they didn't think the order was an illegal one. The only explanation for this that works is that the H.E.C.U. had been fed a very convincing lie by someone. The possibilities for this lie range from the staff being contaminated or infected with something to being taken over by aliens or even that they were all traitors in control of a weapon of mass destruction. Some of the H.E.C.U. do voice a great dislike for killing the Black Mesa staff, but it's not enough to stop them from following their orders.

Besides the H.E.C.U.,there is another military unit, or more likely a paramilitary unit at Black Mesa. The so called "Black Ops". In Half Life 1 we only see the black clad female assassins. But Opposing Force adds heavily armed male members. Unlike the H.E.C.U. the Black Ops in Opposing Force seem to have the goal of not only killing the science staff, but everyone at Black Mesa, including any H.E.C.U. personnel they find. Unlike the H.E.C.U. where there was a possibility of being lied to, it's clear that the Black Ops know what they doing and who they are killing and don’t seem to be bothered by it at all. Of course the Black Ops may not be part of the US military and are not covered by military regulation. Besides killing everyone they saw, they were working on setting off a nuclear weapon to destroy Black Mesa. The willingness of the Black Ops to commits such an atrocity on US soil is really beyond the pale. If there was even a hint that the US Government had a hand in such a thing it would lead to a huge uproar that would bring down whoever was involved. Think the Watergate scandal multiplied by a factor of ten.

Do You Have Any Idea Who Is Running This Operation?

Now this does bring up an interesting question, who the hell is in charge around here? Obviously we will never really know the name of the H.E.C.U. commander or who ordered the Black Ops to set off a nuke. Or will we? As I stated, killing everyone at Black Mesa is a very poor way of trying to cover up the Resonance Cascade. And setting off a nuclear weapon to destroy Black Mesa? Such an event would actually *attract* attention to Black Mesa. The shockwave of a nuclear detonation is very well known and seismologists are good enough that they can make a fairly accurate prediction on the size of the weapon used as well as its exact location. Not to forget the fallout from the blast would set off radiation detectors all over the place and contaminate a huge area. It makes me wonder if covering up the Resonance Cascade was the real reason the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops where sent in to kill everyone.

A Rumor of Responsibility

I don't have any solid proof to support this theory, but here it goes. The person that likely had the most to gain from the destruction of Black Mesa is the person that arms the nuke in Opposing Force, the so called G-Man. As I already made clear the destruction of Black Mesa does nothing to cover up anything and generally makes matters worse. But for the G-Man, what benefits are there? It's fairly clear that the G-Man is not really a "Government Man". His real employer at the time of Half Life 1 was not the US Government, though he pretended to work for them and clearly had a great deal of influence.

So why blow up Black Mesa? Maybe the real cover up was to obscure the G-Man's involvement at Black Mesa and his part in the Cascade. The few people that do know a lot about the G-Man would either be killed, lose credibility or would be put into a position where they would owe a debt to him. The perfect example of this is the G-Man's rescue of Alyx Vance as a way of putting Eli in his debt. Another possible reason for the nuke was the destruction of Earths biggest and most successful interdimensional portal research project. The death of most of the researchers and the loss of all equipment and data would make restarting interdimensional portal development very difficult and could even cause the whole project to be scrapped. The G-Man's real employers may have wanted to eliminate a potential competitor (kill ‘em while they are young). Of course the destruction of Black Mesa could be as simple as the G-Man "cleaning up" after the job was done.

The G-Man is a player of pawns and a master manipulator. He sets up a situation and puts people into situations so they perform a certain job for him. In Half Life 1 it was Gordon Freeman killing Nihilanth, in Half Life 2 it was causing the Combine on Earth a major problem and/or killing Dr. Breen. In Opposing Force it was Adrian Shepherd destroying the Race X Gene Worm and/or destroying the Race X Gate. It's unknown how many pawns the G-Man has and there could be number of people in the US Government or military that he has influence over and could have give the orders for the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops to go into Black Mesa. Of course the G-Man may have just given the orders himself. We really don't know how much power he had in the US Government and military at the time, but it seems to have been considerable. He could also have faked or changed orders to send the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops in. In Half Life 2 the G-Man demonstrated the ability to control human built communications equipment (such as the unplugged TV in Half Life 2 which was playing music and showing a picture) and even influence Combine equipment. With abilities like that, the possibility of a "special order" from the President of the United States or Joint Chiefs could be faked. If the G-Man didn't want to fake the orders, he has also shown the ability to program a person to do or say certain things when triggered. Considering the G-Man's MO, I think the use of a pawn is a little more likely than others.
Solarmech is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:15 PM   #2
Solarmech
 
 
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Reputation: 2279
Posts: 7,915
Is that a Gun or are you Happy to See Me?

Since the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops are non standard units they have access to many different weapon systems, some of them not being used by the military at large. The main weapon for the H.E.C.U. is a little hard to determine because of the High Definition pack which changes several weapons. In the original version of Half Life the H.E.C.U. is armed with a Heckler and Koch MP-5 Submachine gun with a M203 40mm Grenade launcher attached. The High Def Pack changes this to a M4A1 Carbine with an underslung M203. There are actually problems with both these weapons. For the MP-5, putting a grenade launcher on one is not normal by any means. Now it can be done, and such a combo is supposed to be used by the US Navy SEALS, but such a weapon would be rare. With the M4 there is an ammo problem. In game the pistol and submachine gun both use the same 9mm ammo. This is not a problem for the MP-5 as most versions use 9mm ammo. But the M4 uses the NATO 5.56mm round, so they clearly are not interchangeable. Considering the size of the unit and nature of the H.E.C.U.'s mission I would find it very strange if both weapons were not being used. So I guess this is a case there both options are correct and wrong at the same time.
Members of the H.E.C.U. are equipped with hand grenades as are most front line US troops. The odd thing is that a M-2 "pineapple" grenade is being used and the US Military stopped using that type hand grenade a long time ago. I suspect that VALVe used the "old fashioned" type since they are so recognizable. The M67 Fragmentation Grenade in widespread use by the US Military looks like a green ball with a handle on it and it is not very threatening to look at.
In Half Life 1 the H.E.C.U. is never seen to be using their sidearms (and why should they?), but in Opposing Force we see the standard US sidearm, the M9 (A military version of the Baratta 92F/FS) being used by the Medic. Since the H.E.C.U. is a nonstandard unit though, it is almost a given that other handguns would be in use be different H.E.C.U. members according to their mission and personal tastes. The .357 Desert Eagle being used by the Engineer is an example of this. With much of the infantry elements coming from the US Marines, it's most likely that they brought their M40 Sniper Rifle with them. In Half Life we really don't get a good look at the weapon, but in Opposing Force we get to use one, though it comes from a dead Black Ops.

For support weapons the H.E.C.U. is equipped with some easily recognized weapons and number that are more exotic. Let's start off the oldest, the M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun. We see this weapon a number of times in Half Life and get to use it as well. Another support weapon that we see is a rapid fire rocket launcher mounted on a stand. Fortunately this weapon is only seen in the "On a Rail" chapter of Half Life. This heavy weapon is likely new and possibly experimental. Something else seen in "On a Rail" are a number of sandbag bunkers armed with a pair of heavy guns mounted in a protective shield. There is really not enough info to even guess on what kind of guns are used and it does not resemble any real world hardware that I know of. Another support weapon that the H.E.C.U. brings with them (though they never use it that I can see) is a weapon commonly called the RPG. RPG actually stands for "Rocket Propelled Grenade", but the weapon we see in game is certainly not firing grenades, its firing laser guided missiles. I have not been able to find any real world weapon that is a real close fit for this. The H.E.C.U. also uses a standard squad automatic weapon (SAW) for the US Military, the M246 light machine gun, though it is only seen in Opposing Force. Without a doubt the largest "support" weapon is a towed light antitank gun. I have not found anything even close to this weapon as the US military stopped using guns like this some time ago. I suspect that it's a fairly small caliber (for a field gun), say about 50 or 55mm and has an automatic loader due to its rate of fire.

Standard H.E.C.U. kit includes a variety of equipment, some for which is not in widespread use, if it is used by standard US Military Forces units at all. The most recognizable piece of H.E.C.U. equipment is the M40 Gas Mask. This mask is worn by many of the H.E.C.U. in Half Life 1, Blue Shift and by Corporal Adrian Shepard. The H.E.C.U. version of the M40 seems to have been upgraded and some of them are equipped with nigh vision equipment and a Heads Up Display. Another piece of high tech equipment is the Powered Combat Vest (P.C.V.). In Half Life we don't find out much about the P.C.V., but from Opposing Force it works much the same way as a Hazardous Environmental Suit (H.E.V.) worn by Gordon Freeman and has a similar set of sensors to detect toxins and radiation. In fact it would not be a surprise if the P.C.V. was developed at Black Mesa as an outgrowth of the H.E.V. suit. H.E.C.U. members are also equipped with short range radio's (which are probably blocked by the walls of Black Mesa most of the time), a combat knife (KA-BAR) or M6 bayonet and other sundry items.

In the way of vehicles, the H.E.C.U. seems to be able to pick and choose what they want to use. The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter (which actually has "Army" written on the side of it) and V22 Osprey are all in use. As a note the Osprey only entered full service in 2007. So this indicates that the procurement of material for the H.E.C.U. is top priority or that in the Half Life Universe the Osprey was put into production faster than in the real world. There are also more conventional vehicles about such as the venerable M35/M44 2 and 1/2 (deuce and a half) heavy truck. The H.E.C.U. almost certainly has HUMVES as well, but I don't recall seeing any. It is probably that they also have Black Hawk helicopters but we don’t see them either. In addition to their own forces the H.E.C.U. clearly can call on the US Air Force for support and may even have a specific unit attached to them (this would make security easier). The USAF is seen using F-16 Fighting Falcons at Black Mesa, but I believe that other types of aircraft where deployed as well but we didn't see them. I find it possible that a AC-130 Gunship was used and that was the unit that was supplying the fire support when Gordon was marking targets on the technical map and used it to kill the Garg. Shortly after that the bombardment of Black Mesas begins in earnest and the level of destruction being wrought can only be inflicted by a heavy bomber such as the B-52 Stratofortress or B-1B Lancer. I don’t think the B-2 “Spirit” Stealth Bombers would have been called in. As a note when the heavy bombers were called in it’s a near certainty that operational security has been compromised in some way.

The Black Ops from Opposing Force seem to have much the same equipment as the H.E.C.U. does. The standard weapon for the Male Black Ops is the M-4 Carbine with a M203 grenade luncher. The M40 Sniper Rifle is available and all male Black Ops wear the same type of P.C.V. as the H.E.C.U. does. Black Ops members are not using the M20 gasmask, but all have night vision equipment (possibly the AN/PVS-14, which is the current standard for the US Military). For support weapons the Black Ops appears to use anything they can find, which has some logic to it. The Black Ops seem to be a highly mobile force and taking a lot of support weapons on a mission would slow them down. I find it quite likely that the Black Ops ambushed and killed H.E.C.U. members just to be able to take their equipment. As an “off the books” unit the Black Ops probably don't have much in the way of dedicated ground vehicles, they would just take whatever is convenient or available at the time. But they do have their own (black) Apache Attack Helicopters and a black Osprey is seen as well.

Unlike the H.E.C.U., Black Ops clearly does have female members (the assassins) as seen in Half Life 1 and Opposing Force. They are more lightly armed than their male counterparts since they don’t use the M-4 Carbine and make use a light version of the P.C.V. which offers less protection. What female members of the Black Ops lack in fire power and protection they make up for in accuracy, speed and agility though. The normal weapon for the female Black Ops is a silenced pistol which is used in hit and run attacks. They shoot and then avoid return fire either by taking cover or using some acrobatic move. When played on “Hard” they also have optical camouflage which makes them almost invisible part of the time. Female Black Ops have the same night vision equipment their male counterparts.

Count em' Off!

Nothing in the Half Life games gives an indication of how large the H.E.C.U. is. But clearly it at least three companies in size just for ground troops, possible four companies considering the number we see and the size of Black Mesa. That put's their troop strength at well over 300. US military companies can vary greatly in how many people they have in them so there could be up to triple that number. Then you have to add in the armor assets. If figure there was at least one Platoon each of the Abrams and Bradley’s at Black Mesa. While only three Abrams are in action in Half Life 1, there are others that where clearly at Black Mesa at the start of the Resonance Cascade, but where teleported to Xen at some point. We see a number of these tanks and an Osprey (destroyed) at the end of the game when the G-Man is teleporting Gordon around . It can be presumed that the H.E.C.U. lost other assets and people this way. If those tanks and people had not been transported to Xen, the H.E.C.U. might have had a better chance of beating the invaders. The Black Ops unit at Black Mesa is fairly small, and could be made up of less than a hundred people.

Results and Lack of Them

The military forces at Black Mesa didn't end up with a very good track record when all things where said and done. Right after the Resonance Cascade the H.E.C.U. where fairly successful in fulfilling their orders. It’s clear they eliminated a large portion of the Black Mesa staff and where handling the creatures from Xen that had accidentally been transported to Earth. But then things started to go south. Gordon Freeman, with help from some of the remaining staff, is able to evade capture and kill a fair number of H.E.C.U. soldiers. Things get worse as accidental transports give way to an invasion force from Xen pouring through the dimensional breach.

Additional forces being flown in from Sanetgo Military Base take heavy losses as the Ospreys transporting them are shot down or totally destroyed by Xen Manta Rays. On the ground, the close quarters nature of the fighting favors the invaders and leads to heavy H.E.C.U.'s losses. The H.E.C.U. is forced back despite the use of Apache Attack Helicopters and F-16 Fighting Falcons giving air to ground fire support. In the end the H.E.C.U. is has to withdraw leaving a large number of its people behind. This retreat is ostensibly to allow the Air Force to bring it's firepower to bear without having to worry about hitting friendly forces. We never find out how effective this heavy bombardment is. Abandoning people behind like the H.E.C.U. does is *very* unusual for the US Military. Both the US Army and Marines hold the concept of not leaving anyone behind as being highly important.

Black Ops forces arrive at Black Mesa at some unknown point of time and may have been in place before the Resonance Cascade (A Barney mentions that the Black Ops had been staging out of underground warehouse until the aliens came. But this statement can be taken two different ways). The Black Ops proceed with a different plan than the H.E.C.U. and remove a nuclear warhead from a theater class missile, intending to detonate it and destroy the facility. This nuke is eventually detonated, but not by the Black Ops.

In general the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops both fail in their missions. The H.E.C.U. was supposed to stop the invasion from Xen, capture a few selected individuals from the Black Mesa staff (Gordon Freeman being one of them) and kill the rest. The H.E.C.U. took heavy losses in both men and material, but was able to withdraw. The Block Ops failure was terminal. They failed to eliminate the survivors they encountered and even failed to detonate the nuke as the G-Man was forced to reactivate the nuke personally. What's more, all their personnel at Black Mesa where almost certainly killed. The only thing they were really able to do was to locate and deliver the nuke to the proper location.

After Black Mesa things would have gotten even worse for the H.E.C.U. survivors in many ways. The Black Mesa Incident clearly was not covered up and there would be a lot of angry people looking to pin the blame on someone. The H.E.C.U. was almost certainly disbanded and members were probably going to be put on trial. How many got to trial, if any, is open to debate. Most likely the trials where never started as the Portal Storms would have been going strong and causing havoc across the world. Those troops that survived the Portal Storms likely died when the Combine Invaded.

Someone decided that Black Mesa had to be destroyed. In the end though Black Mesa ended up destroying those sent to carry out the mission.
Solarmech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:20 PM   #3
Lilgreenman
 
 
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Reputation: 1457
Posts: 2,433
This all seems nominal...

hurr hurr scientist quote
Lilgreenman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:22 PM   #4
smash
 
smash's Avatar
 
Volunteer Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2003
Reputation: 8649
Posts: 28,565
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
smash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:40 PM   #5
Gman_Killah
 
 
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Reputation: 810
Posts: 711
Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
This a thousand times. I enjoyed reading all his "essays" and I'd love to read them in the future. Perhaps a mod could also sticky it?

LE: Heh, you forgot to add your signature

Last edited by Gman_Killah: 02-20-2012 at 01:43 PM.
Gman_Killah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:42 PM   #6
Lilgreenman
 
 
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Reputation: 1457
Posts: 2,433
Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
Yes please.
Lilgreenman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:45 PM   #7
Sajuukkhar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Reputation: 757
Posts: 5,598
I would like to point out that Half-Life starts at 8:47 am, with the Resonance Cascade happening around 9am, and the chapter On A Rail, where we see the Military's little sandbag bunkers, happens late at night with almost 11-12 hours passing between the two events. I don't find it hard to imagine that they could set them up in 11-12 hours.


Also as for the radiation concerns of setting off a nuke, they could have used a clean bomb instead of a dirty one.

Last edited by Sajuukkhar: 02-20-2012 at 01:49 PM.
Sajuukkhar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 01:58 PM   #8
Haaselh0ff
 
 
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Reputation: 991
Posts: 3,518
@Solar "You deserve a medal soldier!"
Haaselh0ff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 06:13 AM   #9
Atomic Bang
 
 
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Reputation: 560
Posts: 2,154
Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
I approve of this.
Atomic Bang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 08:14 AM   #10
ZidaneTribal
 
 
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Reputation: 45
Posts: 158
I think Dr. Breen might have something to do with all this mess.
ZidaneTribal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 10:14 AM   #11
Solarmech
 
 
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Reputation: 2279
Posts: 7,915
Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
When I get a chance I will start a new thread then copy all the articles into it and post my last one I am working on at the moment. (May be a few days before I can do this). Is that ok? sm
Solarmech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 10:16 AM   #12
Solarmech
 
 
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Reputation: 2279
Posts: 7,915
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZidaneTribal View Post
I think Dr. Breen might have something to do with all this mess.
Breen was a civilian head of a research facility. He would not have the authority to give orders to the military. Be like the head of IBM giving orders to a general. sm
Solarmech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 11:33 AM   #13
Mr. X
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Reputation: 784
Posts: 964
Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Solar, it might be best if you had all of these essays in one thread, and the OP could link to each essay individually.
I don't really agree with you there Smash.
Essay threads are prone to lengthy discussions. Not all but some of them do. I'm afraid discussions will get disorganized and derailed more quickly.
Mr. X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 12:53 PM   #14
Solarmech
 
 
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Reputation: 2279
Posts: 7,915
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajuukkhar View Post
I would like to point out that Half-Life starts at 8:47 am, with the Resonance Cascade happening around 9am, and the chapter On A Rail, where we see the Military's little sandbag bunkers, happens late at night with almost 11-12 hours passing between the two events. I don't find it hard to imagine that they could set them up in 11-12 hours.
You are assuming that they statered to set up the bunkers shortly after the RC. That does not fit things well. There where very few people down in that area (and not many creatures from Xen either) and no reason to haul heavy weapons down there. No reason until Gordon Freeman headed down there to launch the rocket on his way to Lambda Sector. Those troops where there specifically to stop Gordon. And built the bunkers and added heavy weapons to them for just that purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajuukkhar View Post
Also as for the radiation concerns of setting off a nuke, they could have used a clean bomb instead of a dirty one.
There is no such thing as a "clean" nuclear weapon. There are dirty ones and less dirty ones. Also the nuke was set off just sub-surface. That means it blew hundereds of tons of irradiated dust and dirt into the air. sm
Solarmech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2012, 01:08 PM   #15
Agent-1138
 
 
 
Banned
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 39
Posts: 456
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solarmech View Post
Is that a Gun or are you Happy to See Me?

Since the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops are non standard units they have access to many different weapon systems, some of them not being used by the military at large. The main weapon for the H.E.C.U. is a little hard to determine because of the High Definition pack which changes several weapons. In the original version of Half Life the H.E.C.U. is armed with a Heckler and Koch MP-5 Submachine gun with a M203 40mm Grenade launcher attached. The High Def Pack changes this to a M4A1 Carbine with an underslung M203. There are actually problems with both these weapons. For the MP-5, putting a grenade launcher on one is not normal by any means. Now it can be done, and such a combo is supposed to be used by the US Navy SEALS, but such a weapon would be rare. With the M4 there is an ammo problem. In game the pistol and submachine gun both use the same 9mm ammo. This is not a problem for the MP-5 as most versions use 9mm ammo. But the M4 uses the NATO 5.56mm round, so they clearly are not interchangeable. Considering the size of the unit and nature of the H.E.C.U.'s mission I would find it very strange if both weapons were not being used. So I guess this is a case there both options are correct and wrong at the same time.
Members of the H.E.C.U. are equipped with hand grenades as are most front line US troops. The odd thing is that a M-2 "pineapple" grenade is being used and the US Military stopped using that type hand grenade a long time ago. I suspect that VALVe used the "old fashioned" type since they are so recognizable. The M67 Fragmentation Grenade in widespread use by the US Military looks like a green ball with a handle on it and it is not very threatening to look at.
In Half Life 1 the H.E.C.U. is never seen to be using their sidearms (and why should they?), but in Opposing Force we see the standard US sidearm, the M9 (A military version of the Baratta 92F/FS) being used by the Medic. Since the H.E.C.U. is a nonstandard unit though, it is almost a given that other handguns would be in use be different H.E.C.U. members according to their mission and personal tastes. The .357 Desert Eagle being used by the Engineer is an example of this. With much of the infantry elements coming from the US Marines, it's most likely that they brought their M40 Sniper Rifle with them. In Half Life we really don't get a good look at the weapon, but in Opposing Force we get to use one, though it comes from a dead Black Ops.

For support weapons the H.E.C.U. is equipped with some easily recognized weapons and number that are more exotic. Let's start off the oldest, the M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun. We see this weapon a number of times in Half Life and get to use it as well. Another support weapon that we see is a rapid fire rocket launcher mounted on a stand. Fortunately this weapon is only seen in the "On a Rail" chapter of Half Life. This heavy weapon is likely new and possibly experimental. Something else seen in "On a Rail" are a number of sandbag bunkers armed with a pair of heavy guns mounted in a protective shield. There is really not enough info to even guess on what kind of guns are used and it does not resemble any real world hardware that I know of. Another support weapon that the H.E.C.U. brings with them (though they never use it that I can see) is a weapon commonly called the RPG. RPG actually stands for "Rocket Propelled Grenade", but the weapon we see in game is certainly not firing grenades, its firing laser guided missiles. I have not been able to find any real world weapon that is a real close fit for this. The H.E.C.U. also uses a standard squad automatic weapon (SAW) for the US Military, the M246 light machine gun, though it is only seen in Opposing Force. Without a doubt the largest "support" weapon is a towed light antitank gun. I have not found anything even close to this weapon as the US military stopped using guns like this some time ago. I suspect that it's a fairly small caliber (for a field gun), say about 50 or 55mm and has an automatic loader due to its rate of fire.

Standard H.E.C.U. kit includes a variety of equipment, some for which is not in widespread use, if it is used by standard US Military Forces units at all. The most recognizable piece of H.E.C.U. equipment is the M40 Gas Mask. This mask is worn by many of the H.E.C.U. in Half Life 1, Blue Shift and by Corporal Adrian Shepard. The H.E.C.U. version of the M40 seems to have been upgraded and some of them are equipped with nigh vision equipment and a Heads Up Display. Another piece of high tech equipment is the Powered Combat Vest (P.C.V.). In Half Life we don't find out much about the P.C.V., but from Opposing Force it works much the same way as a Hazardous Environmental Suit (H.E.V.) worn by Gordon Freeman and has a similar set of sensors to detect toxins and radiation. In fact it would not be a surprise if the P.C.V. was developed at Black Mesa as an outgrowth of the H.E.V. suit. H.E.C.U. members are also equipped with short range radio's (which are probably blocked by the walls of Black Mesa most of the time), a combat knife (KA-BAR) or M6 bayonet and other sundry items.

In the way of vehicles, the H.E.C.U. seems to be able to pick and choose what they want to use. The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter (which actually has "Army" written on the side of it) and V22 Osprey are all in use. As a note the Osprey only entered full service in 2007. So this indicates that the procurement of material for the H.E.C.U. is top priority or that in the Half Life Universe the Osprey was put into production faster than in the real world. There are also more conventional vehicles about such as the venerable M35/M44 2 and 1/2 (deuce and a half) heavy truck. The H.E.C.U. almost certainly has HUMVES as well, but I don't recall seeing any. It is probably that they also have Black Hawk helicopters but we don’t see them either. In addition to their own forces the H.E.C.U. clearly can call on the US Air Force for support and may even have a specific unit attached to them (this would make security easier). The USAF is seen using F-16 Fighting Falcons at Black Mesa, but I believe that other types of aircraft where deployed as well but we didn't see them. I find it possible that a AC-130 Gunship was used and that was the unit that was supplying the fire support when Gordon was marking targets on the technical map and used it to kill the Garg. Shortly after that the bombardment of Black Mesas begins in earnest and the level of destruction being wrought can only be inflicted by a heavy bomber such as the B-52 Stratofortress or B-1B Lancer. I don’t think the B-2 “Spirit” Stealth Bombers would have been called in. As a note when the heavy bombers were called in it’s a near certainty that operational security has been compromised in some way.

The Black Ops from Opposing Force seem to have much the same equipment as the H.E.C.U. does. The standard weapon for the Male Black Ops is the M-4 Carbine with a M203 grenade luncher. The M40 Sniper Rifle is available and all male Black Ops wear the same type of P.C.V. as the H.E.C.U. does. Black Ops members are not using the M20 gasmask, but all have night vision equipment (possibly the AN/PVS-14, which is the current standard for the US Military). For support weapons the Black Ops appears to use anything they can find, which has some logic to it. The Black Ops seem to be a highly mobile force and taking a lot of support weapons on a mission would slow them down. I find it quite likely that the Black Ops ambushed and killed H.E.C.U. members just to be able to take their equipment. As an “off the books” unit the Black Ops probably don't have much in the way of dedicated ground vehicles, they would just take whatever is convenient or available at the time. But they do have their own (black) Apache Attack Helicopters and a black Osprey is seen as well.

Unlike the H.E.C.U., Black Ops clearly does have female members (the assassins) as seen in Half Life 1 and Opposing Force. They are more lightly armed than their male counterparts since they don’t use the M-4 Carbine and make use a light version of the P.C.V. which offers less protection. What female members of the Black Ops lack in fire power and protection they make up for in accuracy, speed and agility though. The normal weapon for the female Black Ops is a silenced pistol which is used in hit and run attacks. They shoot and then avoid return fire either by taking cover or using some acrobatic move. When played on “Hard” they also have optical camouflage which makes them almost invisible part of the time. Female Black Ops have the same night vision equipment their male counterparts.

Count em' Off!

Nothing in the Half Life games gives an indication of how large the H.E.C.U. is. But clearly it at least three companies in size just for ground troops, possible four companies considering the number we see and the size of Black Mesa. That put's their troop strength at well over 300. US military companies can vary greatly in how many people they have in them so there could be up to triple that number. Then you have to add in the armor assets. If figure there was at least one Platoon each of the Abrams and Bradley’s at Black Mesa. While only three Abrams are in action in Half Life 1, there are others that where clearly at Black Mesa at the start of the Resonance Cascade, but where teleported to Xen at some point. We see a number of these tanks and an Osprey (destroyed) at the end of the game when the G-Man is teleporting Gordon around . It can be presumed that the H.E.C.U. lost other assets and people this way. If those tanks and people had not been transported to Xen, the H.E.C.U. might have had a better chance of beating the invaders. The Black Ops unit at Black Mesa is fairly small, and could be made up of less than a hundred people.

Results and Lack of Them

The military forces at Black Mesa didn't end up with a very good track record when all things where said and done. Right after the Resonance Cascade the H.E.C.U. where fairly successful in fulfilling their orders. It’s clear they eliminated a large portion of the Black Mesa staff and where handling the creatures from Xen that had accidentally been transported to Earth. But then things started to go south. Gordon Freeman, with help from some of the remaining staff, is able to evade capture and kill a fair number of H.E.C.U. soldiers. Things get worse as accidental transports give way to an invasion force from Xen pouring through the dimensional breach.

Additional forces being flown in from Sanetgo Military Base take heavy losses as the Ospreys transporting them are shot down or totally destroyed by Xen Manta Rays. On the ground, the close quarters nature of the fighting favors the invaders and leads to heavy H.E.C.U.'s losses. The H.E.C.U. is forced back despite the use of Apache Attack Helicopters and F-16 Fighting Falcons giving air to ground fire support. In the end the H.E.C.U. is has to withdraw leaving a large number of its people behind. This retreat is ostensibly to allow the Air Force to bring it's firepower to bear without having to worry about hitting friendly forces. We never find out how effective this heavy bombardment is. Abandoning people behind like the H.E.C.U. does is *very* unusual for the US Military. Both the US Army and Marines hold the concept of not leaving anyone behind as being highly important.

Black Ops forces arrive at Black Mesa at some unknown point of time and may have been in place before the Resonance Cascade (A Barney mentions that the Black Ops had been staging out of underground warehouse until the aliens came. But this statement can be taken two different ways). The Black Ops proceed with a different plan than the H.E.C.U. and remove a nuclear warhead from a theater class missile, intending to detonate it and destroy the facility. This nuke is eventually detonated, but not by the Black Ops.

In general the H.E.C.U. and Black Ops both fail in their missions. The H.E.C.U. was supposed to stop the invasion from Xen, capture a few selected individuals from the Black Mesa staff (Gordon Freeman being one of them) and kill the rest. The H.E.C.U. took heavy losses in both men and material, but was able to withdraw. The Block Ops failure was terminal. They failed to eliminate the survivors they encountered and even failed to detonate the nuke as the G-Man was forced to reactivate the nuke personally. What's more, all their personnel at Black Mesa where almost certainly killed. The only thing they were really able to do was to locate and deliver the nuke to the proper location.

After Black Mesa things would have gotten even worse for the H.E.C.U. survivors in many ways. The Black Mesa Incident clearly was not covered up and there would be a lot of angry people looking to pin the blame on someone. The H.E.C.U. was almost certainly disbanded and members were probably going to be put on trial. How many got to trial, if any, is open to debate. Most likely the trials where never started as the Portal Storms would have been going strong and causing havoc across the world. Those troops that survived the Portal Storms likely died when the Combine Invaded.

Someone decided that Black Mesa had to be destroyed. In the end though Black Mesa ended up destroying those sent to carry out the mission.
You didn't put ". sm" at the end of each post , your slacking.
Agent-1138 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Steam Users' Forums > Steam Game Discussions > H - L > Half-Life 2: Episode Two


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:22 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Site Content Copyright Valve Corporation 1998-2014, All Rights Reserved.