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The Crowbar is the signature weapon of Gordon Freeman. It is the first weapon acquired in Half-Life, serving as a melee weapon and a tool for puzzles. The crowbar is also used as a tool for breaking open supply crates and clearing destructible obstacles. The main melee weapon in the Half-Life story arc and the only melee weapon in the Half-Life 2 story arc, it is widely considered the iconic weapon of the Half-Life series, perhaps almost as famous as Gordon Freeman himself when referring to Half-Life.
Originally a tool, it has been reused as a surprisingly effective melee weapon, useful against smaller and/or lone enemies, or when the player is short on ammo. It is a very simple weapon - a single piece of cast iron, shaped like a crow's foot at the tip, and a wedge on the other end in accordance with its primary use as a lever (although it is not featured in the Half-Life 2 viewmodel). It can be swung at a relatively fast rate and does not appear to use up stamina. The lack of ammo required aids in its use as a backup weapon.
The Gravity Gun may substitute the crowbar in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes as a backup weapon, considering it is a safer and quicker way to deal with almost all sorts of enemies if heavy objects are available. However, the crowbar is still faster at destroying barricades and boardings on passages, and it is also better at killing Headcrabs, as any variant dies with one whack, while three punts are needed with the Gravity Gun. It is also quite hard to hit them with objects – especially the Fast Headcrab.
- Primary fire makes Gordon swing the crowbar. It hits whatever is before the player instantly, and has no effect on the player's movement, making dodging of counterattacks easy. However, attacks cannot be blocked with the crowbar. A decent amount of room in which to manoeuvre is essential for effective melee combat.
- Gordon can swing the crowbar fairly rapidly - about every 0.3 seconds in Half-Life, and about every 0.6 seconds in Half-Life 2 - and therefore can deal a decent amount of damage over time. However, damage is variable, and humanoid enemies will require multiple hits to dispatch.
- The crowbar has relatively low stopping power and will not stop enemies charging. However, Gordon is agile enough to easily do sidestepping rushes and dodging swipes. The range of the crowbar in Half-Life 2 is greater than that of most enemies' melee attacks. Crowbar attacks will prevent Combine Soldiers from pistol-whipping, allowing an easy kill when in melee range. This tactic is also effective in Half-Life: Source against most enemies such as Alien Grunts and Vortigaunts, but not against Zombies.
- In the early stages of each game in which the crowbar appears, it is an invaluable tool for clearing obstructions and opening crates without expending ammo needlessly. While this role can be supplanted by the Gravity Gun once it is acquired, the crowbar is still functional as an effective close-combat weapon. As the game progresses, it becomes more of a backup weapon due to Gordon's improved firepower, but it's perfectly viable when ammo is low, or firearm usage is unnecessary.
- In Half-Life 2 and its episodes, Headcrabs appear to have an innate weakness against the crowbar: despite their ability to withstand numerous bullets before dying, they will always die with one crowbar hit, regardless of their current health (although they can take up to three hits in Half-Life). The crowbar is capable of swatting them out of the air before they connect, but this requires good timing. However, they can also be killed when not in the middle of a jump. Poison Headcrabs are notably vulnerable to this.
- The crowbar need not be aimed directly at the enemy to hit, instead one must only face in the general direction of the target. This aids in its use as a melee weapon, making moving targets much easier to hit.
- Most melee-only combatants can be taken on with relative ease, assuming their numbers are less than overwhelming. Dispatching of groups of zombies with the crowbar can easily be done without taking a hit as long as Gordon remains out of their reach (or dodges their swings) - since Gordon has greater reach with his crowbar than a zombie's hands, one can easily strike without retaliation.
- Contrariwise, engaging in normal hand-to-hand combat while under fire from ranged opponents is unwise, as Gordon will be unable to easily avoid incoming fire. In such a case, one should use cover as much as possible, and engage lone enemies rather than attacking groups at once.
- Crowbars are not effective at crowd control as they cannot hit multiple targets in one swing. Since it cannot engage enemies more than a short distance away, it's especially weak against a combination of ranged and melee combatants. In fact, use against more than a few ranged enemies without use of cover will result in a quick death. Melee enemies are relatively easily countered with the crowbar, but in all situations, careless handling of the situation may result in the player being overwhelmed.
- In old versions of Half-Life, the first swing would cause normal damage, while all hits following without a break would only cause half the damage. In newer versions, all swings do half a damage only, making it impossible to instantly kill Headcrabs, even in Easy and Normal modes.
The first crowbar encountered is in the tutorial level Hazard Course, where the player is taught how to use it. The crowbar used in the majority of the game is acquired in the third chapter Unforeseen Consequences and is used to break some nearby glass doors. After Gordon is captured in the chapter Apprehension and is relieved of all of his weapons, another crowbar is found at the top of the trash compactor. It is notable that crowbars can also be found in various areas of Black Mesa beyond the chapter Unforeseen Consequences, such as in a tool room just above the freight lift at the beginning of the chapter Blast Pit.
The crowbar in Uplink is found in a maintenance room near the start of the game, sitting on a table near a toolbox. It is also a single room away from the first guns available. Strangely, a soda machine is in the room for no apparent reason other than to be destroyed.
The crowbar in Blue Shift is first found in the second chapter, Duty Calls, right outside the elevator the player starts in. It is used there to smash through the dozens of cardboard boxes in the room. After that, it is never found again. It is seen at the very end, though, where Walter Bennet is using one to open the gate to freedom. This is also the only scene where the crowbar is actually used for its intended purpose and the only scene where an NPC actually uses it.
In Decay, two crowbars can be found in the first chapter, Dual Access. Colette Green find hers on the ground right before entering the room under the Anti-Mass Spectrometer. Gina Cross finds hers in the room itself, jamming the lift mechanism to be used to bring the crystal sample to Freeman in the test chamber.
The crowbar is the first weapon acquired in the game, late in the chapter "A Red Letter Day". Before Barney Calhoun gives Freeman the crowbar, he remarks, "Oh, and before I forget! I think you dropped this back in Black Mesa!", suggesting this very crowbar is the last one used by Gordon during the Black Mesa Incident, although the only one found by Calhoun during Blue Shift cannot be a crowbar left by Gordon, since the latter did not pass through that particular location during the events of Half-Life. However the crowbar is eventually destroyed by the Confiscation Field in the Citadel.
The crowbar is provided in the fourth chapter, Urban Flight, when Gordon and Alyx encounters Calhoun in an apartment building near the Hospital. He gives Gordon a crowbar wedged in a bridge control, jokingly remarking "I don't have many more of these so... try not to lose this one, okay?".
In Episode Two, the crowbar is found in the first chapter, To The White Forest, in an elevator shaft inside an abandoned mining complex, wedged in an elevator's controls. Prying it loose will yield it but will send the elevator crashing down into an Antlion nest, separating Freeman from the Vortigaunt and Alyx.
 Other Valve games
- The crowbar also appears in Team Fortress Classic and Deathmatch Classic. In TFC, it is the standard melee weapon for classes that do not have a specific one. In DMC, it is the only melee weapon in the game; the player spawns with it and a shotgun. In both cases, the crowbar is a Half-Life themed replacement for the axe, which is the standard melee weapon in the original Team Fortress and the first Quake.
- The crowbar appears in Left 4 Dead 2 as a melee weapon. In addition, one of the sound files has Louis declaring "Man, I feel like I'm Gordon Freeman!".
 Related Achievements
|Trusty Hardware (5G)|
|Get the crowbar.|
 Behind the scenes
Following the release of Half-Life, Sierra Entertainment offered a "Congratulations for Raising the Bar on Action Games" award to Valve in the form of a golden crowbar. It is showcased in the lobby at Valve's headquarters, also featuring the replica of the Half-Life 2 crowbar.
- As the crowbar is one of the most iconic weapons in gaming, multiple references are made to it by subtle use of crowbars in games. It is however unknown how many of these references are actually intended.
- One of the weapons available in The Ship is a crowbar, with the description "to be used by a free man," a reference to Gordon Freeman.
- In Deus Ex, the crowbar is the first weapon picked up by the player. It looks almost identical to the Half-Life crowbar, but is shorter and has a painted straight end.
- In Sim City (2013), a low-density factory may be called "Freeman Crowbar Mfg".
- In Zombie Pandemic, a Facebook game about zombies, the description reads: The multipurpose weapon of choice of all survivors. Portable lever, hand to hand weapon and skeleton key, the crowbar does it all. This one reads “Property of Black Mesa Research Facility”.
- In Penumbra: Overture, the player must cross an ice-covered lake to retrieve a crowbar. Upon receiving the crowbar, the narrator comments on the name "Freeman" being etched into the side. In addition, a note is found later to reveal that the crowbar belonged to a 'Joe Freeman', another reference to Gordon Freeman.
- In the later chapters of Half-Life 2, if Freeman is killed near a Rebel while using the crowbar, they may pick it up and use it themselves, just like any weapon normally used by Rebels. However they will tend to switch between a normal and ragdoll position, as they are not to use it in the normal course of the game. After a few seconds, they will release it and pick up again their proper weapon. This is the only weapon not used by NPCs that Rebels pick up, as they never pick up the crossbow or the Gravity Gun.
- In the Half-Life 2 game files, a sound from the crowbar folder is named "iceaxe_swing1.wav". It was originally used for the Ice Axe, a cut melee weapon.
 Half-Life story arc
Early viewmodel sans hand, as found in Half-Life Alpha.
Deathmatch Classic viewmodel.
Walter opening the gate to freedom with a crowbar.
 Half-Life 2 story arc
Stained glass of Gordon and his crowbar in the E3 map in "e3_techdemo_5", reused with small changes for Counter-Strike: Source's "Video Stress Test".
March 2010 image of Gordon Freeman and his crowbar promoting the arrival of Steam on Mac, sent by Valve to MacRumors. The Apple logo can be seen in place of the Lambda logo on the HEV Suit.
March 2010 image of Alyx Vance throwing a crowbar in a screen where Wallace Breen is addressing Citizens, taken from a video promoting the arrival of Steam on Mac, sent by Valve to Macworld. This references an Apple commercial directed by Ridley Scott and released late 1983, itself referencing the film/novel 1984.
 List of appearances
- Half-Life: Day One (First appearance)
- Half-Life: Uplink (Non-canonical appearance)
- Deathmatch Classic (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Blue Shift
- Half-Life: Decay
- Half-Life 2
- Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
- Half-Life 2: Lost Coast (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode One
- Source Particle Benchmark (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two
- The Final Hours of Portal 2