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The Gonome is the next stage of a headcrab's prolonged mutation upon its host. If not killed, the host increases in size and gains a dangerous ranged attack where it reaches into its chest cavity and throws a poisonous substance. The host's claws and chest cavity also increase in size.
This mutation is a demonstration of the Headcrab's brutality; it will go to any lengths to help it survive. It also shows the sheer power of the mutation, and how the headcrab is able to dramatically change a host's biology.
Behavior and skills
Gonomes generally stay with groups of lesser zombies and Headcrabs. If they observe any threat, they will first use their ranged attack. Should the enemy get closer, they will resort to manually attacking with their claws. They can sprint if they spot a distant target. In many ways, the Gonome's behavior is similar to that of a Bullsquid.
Near the beginning of Opposing Force where Adrian Shephard finds his PCV on a table near some headcrabbed bodies, two scientists talk about headcrabs, saying they can take over the host's nervous system like a parasite, and one of them asks the player, "Can you imagine what the next stage of mutation looks like?" This hints to the Gonome being a natural or artificial mutation not previously witnessed by the Black Mesa Science Team, or that the scientists in the Infirmary were not aware of Headcrabs until the Resonance Cascade.
Behind the scenes
Being an expansion, Opposing Force briefly demonstrates the continued mutations of a zombie. Various model designs were made by Gearbox in planning the zombie models.
It should also be noted that the frequent zombies of Marines and Security Guards were also created only by Gearbox. It could be assumed that Gonomes are only critically mutated scientists, since they're only depicted with plain white scientist pants as seen in the standard-definition models.
- The Gonome model has an unseen dancing animation named "veryhappy" in the original model, while it is "sohappy" in the Steam version. It was reused for the scientist model under the name "sohappy" in the original model, and "hambone" in the Steam version, for a scientist seen dancing through a security camera at the start of Blue Shift.
- On Easy mode, it is possible to kill a Gonome with a single shot with the Desert Eagle when aiming for the head.
- In Half-Life 2, the Poison Zombie is very similar in comparison to the Gonome. The Gonome uses its gut-throwing attack, while the Poison Zombie throws Poison Headcrabs.
- Gonomes also share some type similarity with Fast Zombies from Half-Life 2 as they are quite fast and also dont have double slash, an attack which the Fast Zombies lack.
- In Half-Life 2, no Gonomes are seen in Ravenholm, despite the fact that the Humans there were transformed into Zombies for more than a few hours. This is likely a deliberate design decision.