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Black Ops

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Black Ops
Political information

Assassins/Commandos group


Federal government of the United States[1]

Societal information

Cloaking field

Historical information

Black Mesa Incident

Game information
Voiced by
  • monster_human_assassin
  • monster_male_assassin
  • monster_blkop_apache
  • monster_blkop_osprey
"Why do we always have to clean up a mess the grunts can't handle?"
― Male Assassin[src]

The Black Ops, sometimes hyphenated to Black-Ops[5] and sometimes referred to as Black Operations,[6] are a commando group of trained government assassins[1] briefly seen in Half-Life and later expanded upon and featured in Half-Life: Opposing Force. Soon after the HECU, they invade the Black Mesa Research Facility to conceal any evidence of the Resonance Cascade.

While it is stated that the HECU and the Black Ops are officially known to enter the facility in the event of an emergency and work with the Security Force as "a dangerous and very efficient clean-up crew"[7] (although some employees consider it a rumor[8]), they are shown to work independently, killing all living things inside the base, whether they are Black Mesa employees, HECU soldiers, or Xen lifeforms, and eventually destroying Black Mesa itself altogether through use of a nuclear weapon.

They are divided into two groups: the female and male Black Ops, also known as Female and Male Assassins.



The Black Ops first appear in Sector E in Half-Life during the chapter Apprehension, and later make one more appearance in Sector F, during the chapter Lambda Core. Only Female Black Ops are seen by Gordon Freeman in the game.

Female Black Ops are strikingly nimble and agile, able to sprint faster than any other enemy and can jump to extreme heights. They wear a black jump suit and use night vision goggles that include a headset with a microphone, although none are ever heard speaking. They are armed with a silenced 9mm Pistol and grenades.

The distinction between the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit and the Black Ops was not made at first in the original Half-Life. Although the two groups never encountered one another in the game, Female Assassins were coded to fight on the same side as the Marines. Many players assumed this meant they were working with the military since assassins had no backstory, and as such, many fan-made maps included them fighting alongside each other. It was not until the release of Opposing Force that more insight regarding the Black Ops was revealed.

Half-Life: Opposing Force[edit]

Male Black Ops in Opposing Force.

Black Ops are featured much more prominently in Opposing Force. The reason for their presence at Black Mesa is also explained, something that was never made clear in the original game. Opposing Force explains that, after the initial failure of the HECU's clean-up operation, the Black Ops are sent to cover up the whole incident by destroying the entire facility. To do this, they intend to set off a thermonuclear device within the complex. Adrian Shephard locates the bomb the Black Ops deliver in a parking garage and is able to disarm it, but shortly thereafter it is seen being reactivated by the G-Man. The flash of a nuclear explosion is later witnessed in the epilogue, indicating the successful detonation of this bomb.

During gameplay, Black Ops are shown to have utter contempt for the HECU soldiers, considering them incompetent and inept. One assassin angrily remarks to another, "Why do we always have to clean up a mess the grunts can't handle?". The Black Ops are openly hostile towards Marines, killing any who have not yet escaped as part of their mission. While the HECU are aware that the Black Ops group exists, they are confused by their arrival and wonder if they are there to assist. However, the Black Ops soon start killing all of the non-Black Ops personnel they can find. HECU radio traffic shows that the Marines are at first totally taken by surprise, much like how the HECU initially overwhelms the Black Mesa personnel. Further evidence of their viciousness can be seen after discovering a Marine engineer who, after being brutally beaten and interrogated, is simply left for dead, trapped in a garage.[5]

Along with the Female Black Ops, Opposing Force introduced the group's male variant. Male Black Ops wear black combat gear and ski masks that only expose their eyes. Some are seen wearing night vision goggles. Although not visible, they apparently have a communicator in their ear which they are seen listening to whenever they eliminate a target.

They are equipped with the same Submachine Gun with grenade attachment that the HECU use, but some male Black Ops have a M-40A1 Sniper Rifle. They utilize equipment and vehicles, such as the M44 cargo truck, the AH-64 Apache, and the Osprey Heliplane similar to the HECU, but black in color.

Black Ops soldiers can run much faster than the Marines, and up close, they use martial arts kicks and punches as melee attacks. They also have a little more health. Also, unlike their Marine counterparts, Black Ops operate in total silence when in combat, refusing to even yell in pain when injured.

Half-Life: Decay[edit]

In Decay, the Black Ops assassins are only featured in the bonus chapter, Xen Attacks. In it they battle against the players' two Vortigaunt characters, X-8973 and R-4913, in the underground parking lot originally featured at the end of Opposing Force, under Sector E's largest Ordinance Facility.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Early model, with a crossbow.
  • The female assassins originally had the ability to attack their enemies at close range by kicking them. The unused attack animations are still present in the model file.
  • The female Black Ops were originally to be armed with crossbows. The quivers used to hold the crossbow bolts are still featured in the model, attached to the belt.
  • The early female Black Ops model features yellow goggles, turned red in the retail model.
  • As seen in the Opposing Force model files, the male Black Ops were originally to use flash grenades.
  • Early concept art for Quiver features special CIA units, one of which is a female. The original Black Ops likely stem from it.[2]
  • The female Black Ops model's breasts possess a highly exaggerated bounce when she walked, a feature held to much amusement by fans. This was removed in Opposing Force and in the PlayStation 2 console port of the original game.
  • When playing in Hard mode, female Black Ops also have a cloaking field, which they use to become partially invisible during combat.


Dead Female Assassin, with flipped up goggles.
  • In some instances, if a Female Assassin is killed by being shot in the back while running, her nightvision goggles flip up, revealing blue (in Half-Life) or brown (in Opposing Force) eyes, and she will pull her legs together and lie dead on her left side.
  • The Female Assassin model featured in Opposing Force has brown eyes, while they are blue in that of Half-Life. She also does not have grenades attached to her belt. The textures are also of lower resolution and slightly different, such as a different, darker grey for the Pistol's silencer. Her overall build is also thinner.






List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]



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