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Advanced Biological Research Lab

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Bio lab outside.jpg
Advanced Biological Research Lab
General information

200-, during the Black Mesa Incident


Black Mesa Research Facility


Black Mesa Incident


Black Mesa

Game information

  • c2a4d
  • c2a4e
  • c2a4f
  • c2a4g
"A scientist, thank God! Get us out of here before those military drones figure out where we're hiding!"

The Advanced Biological Research Lab, also known as the Alien Research Labs,[3] 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 Advanced Biological Research Lab's 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 Advanced Biological Research Lab. 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]

The concept of the Advanced Biological Research Lab 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 name of this area is given in one of several unused Announcement System lines, which can be found in the sentences file used for the speech system. Unused sign textures reveal that the facility was originally called the "High Security Research Labs" located in the Central Complex.

On the main lobby floor can be seen a logo featuring the Latin words "Superbus Via Inscientiæ", and a DNA double helix in the middle, designed by Karen Laur.[2] The best translation for that sentence would be "Proud by way of ignorance", although the phrasing is not common. Karen Laur allegedly shed some light on the phrase's origins, admitting in a post on a forum dedicated to the Latin language that she was irritated with the hubris of some co-workers and asked a linguist friend of hers for help with a translation. Due to the fact that he specialized in Germanic languages, the phrase ended up being rather incorrect. Having been informed by him that "Superbus Via Inscientiæ" could be translated as "arrogance through ignorance," she decided that it could be used in-game.[4]

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 the Alien Grunts are kept. Moreover, there was to be a security guard waiting in the booth of the first sterilizer chamber. He was to push the button and tell the player to get in the booth immediately.[5] The animations for this scene can be found in the SDK. The related quote sounds are still present in the game files. Another scene was to involve a Bullsquid jumping on a security guard, and both of them falling down (512 units in the level editor) to their death.[6] The height of the scene matches the room behind the destroyed wall in the laser room. It is possible that the destruction was to trigger this sequence.

The scientists mention their colleague Peters switched on the surgical unit, but never made it back. His body is never seen, but his remains can be found in the room. He actually appears in the game, but his body is destroyed by the machine on map load. His character model is randomly selected.





List of appearances[edit]


  1. Interview with Dario Casali on Voltron's Map Workshop (May 1, 2000) (archived)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Half-Life section on Karen Laur's official website
  3. Half-Life Prima Guide
  4. Superbus via inscientiae on LatinDiscussion forums (February 19, 2010)
  5. maps/c2a4d.bsp
  6. Half-Life SDK
Preceded by
Biological Waste Processing Plant
Half-Life story arc journey Succeeded by
Topside Hydro Plant