Gordon Freeman

From Academic Kids

  of Gordon Freeman holding a
Half-Life 2 concept art of Gordon Freeman holding a crowbar

Dr. Gordon Freeman is the fictional protagonist of the Half-Life series of first-person shooter computer games. He is a theoretical physicist who has been forced to defend himself against hostile aliens and other enemies following an experiment gone wrong.



Facts known about Freeman include that he is 28 years old at the time of Half-Life, has no dependents, and is a graduate of MIT (MIT Directory entry (http://web.mit.edu/bin/cgicso?query=gordon+freeman)), having earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. His thesis was entitled Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supraquantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array. A native of Seattle, Washington, Freeman harbored an early interest in theoretical physics, such as quantum mechanics and relativity. After observing a series of teleportation experiments conducted by the Institute of Experimental Physics, applications of teleportation became Freeman's obsession.

Eventually, he became disappointed with the slow pace of teleportation research in academia and began to search for a job in the private sector. By coincidental circumstances, Freeman's MIT mentor Dr. Isaac Kleiner had taken charge of a top-secret research project at the Black Mesa Research Facility and was looking for some associates. Freeman was an obvious choice. He accepted the job offer, in hopes that part of the immense funding would go towards civilian applications of astrophysics and quantum computing.

At the start of the first game, Freeman is employed and lives at the top secret, integrated research facility known as Black Mesa Research Facility, located somewhere in New Mexico. He is assigned to the Anomalous Materials department, located deep inside the facility, doing nuclear and subatomic research. Quite humorously, even while having obtained a Ph.D from the prestigious MIT, what work that the player actually does as Freeman (pressing a button and pushing a cart) does not require any intellectual knowledge. Barney Calhoun pokes fun of this in the beginning portion of Half-Life 2, when Freeman performs similarly "technical" assistance.

Freeman is bespectacled, wears a goatee, and is quite athletic. Although seeming to be an expert with weapons and explosives (depending on who is playing the game, of course), Freeman had actually not handled any weapons until the Black Mesa incident (aside from the butane-powered tennis ball cannon he constructed at age 6). What separates Gordon Freeman from other games heroes is that he is a scientist – a rather unlikely kind of hero when compared to past characters such as Duke Nukem, or the generic soldier types in many other games. This fact was poked fun of in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

According to the book Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar the name Gordon Freeman is a homage to Freeman Dyson.


Missing image
Art of Freeman from the original Half-Life.

On May 5, 2000 Freeman and his team perform an experiment that goes horribly wrong. As a result, the space-time continuum is ruptured, allowing alien lifeforms to enter the facility and begin killing any humans they can find. Freeman finds himself hunted by two groups: the invading aliens and a military cleanup team that has been sent to contain the situation, silencing aliens and surviving personnel alike.

After numerous adventures, and after eliminating countless aliens and soldiers, Freeman manages to travel to the alien home world of Xen and eliminate their "leader" as well. Subsequently, Freeman is offered a job by the mysterious G-Man, who is often spotted observing Freeman from a distance (and perhaps manipulating his fate as well), seemingly evaluating him. (Screen messages players see when the Freeman character performs an action causing the game to become impossible to finish, such as eliminating a character who must open a locked door, refer to 'Subject Freeman', who 'failed evaluation'.) Fans assume that the mysterious G-Man arranged for the whole incident, as he can be seen talking with some scientists before the experiment, and since the sample which caused the accident is described as having "just been delivered that morning". Although it is not explicitly stated in the game, the sample that causes the resonance cascade is a fragment of the crystals in the lair of the Nihilanth at the end of the game.

Half-Life 2

Missing image
A stained glass image of Gordon Freeman.

Half-Life 2 begins with the G-Man speaking to Gordon. The scene is somewhat psychedelic, with the G-Man's face in extreme close-up fading in and out of visibility over backgrounds representing scenes from the original Half-Life as well as scenes he will visit in the course of Half-Life 2. The G-Man delivers a typically cryptic speech, concluding by telling Freeman he must "wake up and smell the ashes." (It is presumed that Gordon accepted the G-Man's job offer on the train at the end of Half-Life, since refusal brought certain death.) At the beginning of Half-Life 2, Freeman wakes up on a train with two citizens being "relocated" to City 17.

During the course of the second game, Freeman battles Combine forces in order to free humanity from its grasp. Periodically he meets up with, and fights alongside, organized resistance freedom fighters such as Barney Calhoun and Alyx Vance. Half-Life 2 "concludes" just as cryptically as its predecessor did, with perhaps even more questions unanswered.

H.E.V. suit

In both games, Freeman wears a special full-body suit, known as the H.E.V. suit, H.E.V. standing for Hazardous EnVironment. The HEV Mark IV suit worn by Freeman in Half-Life 1 has a built-in flashlight, morphine administrator (the "health" of the player), anti-toxin delivery, an optional long-jumping module which allows jumps over immense distances, and a heads-up display (HUD) which tracks health status and weapon ammo usage. The suit can be charged by power modules throughout Black Mesa, which provide additional protection. Freeman dons the suit at the start of the first game, and keeps it until the game ending, when he is allowed to keep it by the G-Man.

In Half-Life 2, Freeman nevertheless starts without the suit. After a visit to Dr. Isaac Kleiner, his former professor, Freeman gets a new HEV suit, this time a Mark V. New features include a zooming capability, sprinting capability, and the capability to use Combine power nodes to charge the suit. Unlike the Mark IV however, the Mark V uses only one auxiliary power source for flashlights, sprinting and oxygen supply. In addition, the long-jumping module is no longer a feature. (The characters occasionally refer to this suit as Gordon's "old suit", indicating that it may simply have been upgraded.)


  • Hodgson, David. Half-Life 2: Prima Official Game Guide. Prima Games, 2004. ISBN 0761543627.
  • Hodgson, David. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar. Prima Games, 2004. ISBN 0761543643.

External links

Template:Half-Lifefr:Gordon Freeman pl:Gordon Freeman


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