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Alien Research Labs

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Not to be confused with Alien Research Lab.

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Alien Research Labs
General information

200-, during the Black Mesa Incident


Black Mesa Research Facility


Black Mesa Incident


Black Mesa

Game information
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Dario Casali[1]

"A scientist, thank God! Get us out of here before those military drones figure out where we're hiding!"

The Alien Research Labs[2] comprise an area in the Black Mesa Research Facility located near Sector G's Hydro-Electric Dam and partially above the Biological Waste Processing Plant. Controlled by the HECU during the Black Mesa Incident, it covers the Half-Life chapter Questionable Ethics.


The Alien Research Labs ground floor features a large lobby that gives access, through a revolving door, to a road passing by the Hydro-Electric Dam and leading to freight hangars. It can be reached from the Biological Waste Processing Plant through a drain located in a small room where Houndeyes are being kept in captivity.

Spread on two levels, the ground floor features two Sterilization Chambers, rooms that disintegrate any biological form they contain with their Biological Sterilization System using electrical current, sealing themselves from the outside when operated. There can be seen cages used to confine Xen fauna, such as Headcrabs and Snarks. The ground floor also features a surgical unit that can apparently perform surgical operations on two beds at a time, several Alien Grunts kept alive in large tanks, and Headcrabs contained in glass cases.

The second floor is dedicated to testing the large High Power Laser, which is powered by multiple lasers diverted from different rooms. The Tau Cannon is found at this level.



During his journey, Gordon Freeman arrives at the Alien Research Labs. In order to proceed further, he has to find a scientist to operate the retinal scanner located in the main lobby, though both HECU forces and the Xen creatures kept in the facility make this task difficult. Utilizing the lab equipment, such as the Biological Sterilization System, to defeat Headcrabs or HECU soldiers, powering up the large laser, taking use of the fact that the military and alien forces are busy fighting each other, and blocking the laser shield, so the beam penetrates the wall, he finds three scientists hiding from the grunts. One of them explains that their colleague Peters turned it on, but was likely killed by it. Freeman has then to turn it off so that a scientist can follow him to the main lobby. After leaving the facility, Gordon continues his journey to the Lambda Complex through the revolving door.

Opposing Force[edit]

As seen by Adrian Shephard later in the Black Mesa Incident, the road leading to the lab is obstructed by fallen rocks and Race X moss.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Main article: Alien Research Lab

The concept of the Alien Research Labs evolved from the Alien Research Lab. While none of the level architecture was reused, the idea of Alien Grunts being stored in containment chambers survived into the final game.

The facility is referred to as the Advanced Biological Research Lab in the game's Announcement System lines. However, this announcement isn't played, leaving the name unheard. Unused sign textures reveal that the facility was originally called the "High Security Research Labs" located in the Central Complex. The original design of the laser lab layout was different. There was to be a second set of stairs in the other side. It can be seen in the level plan. It was to lead to the hall with explosive crates, near the lab where they keep the Alien Grunts. Unused Black Mesa Announcement System lines for the chapter can be found in the sentences file used for the speech system. The name of the chapter is "Advanced Biological Research Lab" in the document.

There is a logo on the lobby floor featuring the Latin words "Superbus Via Inscientiae", and a DNA double helix in the middle. It was created by Karen Laur. According to Karen, she was annoyed with the hubris of some co-workers, and asked a linguist friend of hers for some help with a translation. He was specialized in Germanic languages and said the original phrase was probably incorrect. She was informed that "Superbus Via Inscientiae" meant something close to "arrogance through ignorance", and that was close enough for her.[3]





List of appearances[edit]


  1. Interview with Dario Casali on Voltron's Map Workshop (May 1, 2000) (archived)
  2. Half-Life Prima Guide
  3. Superbus via inscientiae on LatinDiscussion forums (February 19, 2010)
Preceded by
Biological Waste Processing Plant
Half-Life story arc journey Succeeded by
Topside Hydro Plant