The Crowbar is an iconic melee weapon and the signature weapon of Gordon Freeman. It is the first weapon acquired in Half-Life, serving as a signature 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 device - a length of iron or steel hexagonal rod, one end forged into a curve and furnished with a split wedge for prying nails, the other end hammered into a simple flat wedge for general prying and levering. 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.
- The crowbar is generally more useful as a tool than a weapon. It is ideal for clearing obstructions, smashing objects, knocking padlocks off gates, etc. In combat, it is very effective against light opponents, such as Headcrabs or slow opponents, such as Standard Zombies. The crowbar is also a handy backup weapon if an enemy gets within range or if one's ammo is low - it is generally enough to deter small targets.
- Using it against Combine Soldiers is generally not a good idea unless he is on his own and within range. If the player has managed to successfully engage the soldier in hand-to-hand combat, the latter will be dispatched relatively quickly. In fact, the soldier will be unable to attack with his melee as long as the player is continuously hitting him. This tactic is also effective in Half-Life: Source against most enemies such as Alien Grunts and Vortigaunts, but not against Zombies.
- In Half-Life 2 and its episodes, Headcrabs appear to have an innate weakness against the crowbar: despite their ability to withstand a couple of bullets before dying, they will always die with one crowbar hit, regardless of their current health (whereas in Half-Life they need two or four hits, depending on the difficulty). This is also the case in Half-Life: Source, but only on the Easy and Normal difficulties. Thus, the crowbar is a very effective weapon against even large groups of Headcrabs. In this case, there are two typical ways with which to deal with them:
- If the Headcrab is unaware or is recovering after a missed jump, one can sprint towards it and hit it as soon as it is in range. While it is the simplest way to deal with them, it is less effective in more confined spaces, or against large groups of them.
- The second way, and arguably the more skilled method, is to hit the Headcrab out of the air as it jumps for the player. This requires precise timing, since the window in which this can be executed is small - too slow, and the Headcrab will cause damage - too soon, and the crowbar will miss, leaving the player vulnerable. This tactic can also be dangerous to use against large groups of Headcrabs, although if one has sufficient room behind, moving back while the Headcrabs jump will stagger the group, allowing for an easier kill.
- 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.
- Standard Zombies can be dispatched with relative ease - they will go down within five hits in Normal mode, while Poison Zombies approximately fifteen - as long as one moves out of the way of their slow attacks. If executed correctly, one can hit the Zombie up to three times, run out of the Zombie's reach while it attacks, then attack again. In fact, since the crowbar has slightly more range than a Zombie's hands, it is possible to keep walking back while hitting it, staying just out of reach. The crowbar has no effect on player movement while swinging.
- Overall, crowbars are most effective when engaging enemies in fewer numbers - the relatively low rate of attack and proximity required means that a careless handling of the situation may result in the player being overwhelmed.
- In old versions of Half-Life, the first swing causes normal damage, while all hits following without a break 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. Destroying the Soda machine in the room will reveal a secret air duct that leads to a secret room where the pistol and shotgun can be acquired early.
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 provided to the player in chapter 2 "A Red Letter Day", when Gordon encounters a door frame blocked with wooden beams, Barney arrives and drops the crowbar to Gordon saying "I think you dropped this back at Black Mesa" suggesting that Barney found another crowbar, or it may be the very same crowbar Barney himself used in Blue Shift.
The crowbar is provided in the fourth chapter, Urban Flight, when Gordon and Alyx encounter 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 Team Fortress Classic, it is the melee weapon for all classes that do not have a class-specific melee weapon. The classes in question are the Scout, the Soldier, the Pyro, the Demoman, the Heavy Weapons Guy, and the Sniper. In Deathmatch Classic, 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!"
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- 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:
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a crowbar similar to Gordon's can be seen lying on a table inside the Area 69 government facility.
- One of the weapons available in The Ship is a crowbar, with the description "to be used by a free man."
- In Penumbra: Overture, the player must cross an ice-covered lake to retrieve a crowbar, held in a frozen hand that resembles Gordon's HEV glove. Upon receiving the crowbar, the narrator comments in inventory on the name "Freeman" being etched into the side. In addition, a note is found nearby to reveal that the crowbar belonged to a 'Joe Freeman', another reference to Gordon Freeman.
- In Left 4 Dead 2, another game developed by Valve, crowbars can be found in several campaigns and act as melee weapons, replacing pistols in the secondary slot. Also, some protagonists may say quotes about crates, referring to its primary use.
- In Halo 3, a crowbar can be found lying around in the multiplayer map Sandtrap that bears a striking similarity to Gordon's crowbar. "Sandtraps" is also the name of Half-Life 2's eighth chapter.
- In Scribblenauts Unlimited, using a crowbar to break open a crate awards the player the "Free Man!" object shard.
- In the later chapters of Half-Life 2, if Freeman dies near a Rebel while using the crowbar, they may pick it up and use it themselves, just like any other weapon used by Rebels. However, they tend to move on a ragdoll position, as they were not intended to use it. After a few seconds, they will release it and pick up again their proper weapon.
- As when the player dies and somebody is in their squad, rebels sometimes make the remark "Somebody... Take his crowbar."
- The crowbar's swinging sound in Half-Life is taken from the sample library Cuckooland: UNHINGED by Zero-G. The sound comes from a sample called PERC FX-10.
Half-Life story arc
Half-Life 2 story arc
List of appearances
- Half-Life: Day One (First appearance) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Uplink (Non-canonical appearance)
- Deathmatch Classic (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force (Multiplayer only)
- Half-Life: Blue Shift
- Half-Life: Decay
- Half-Life 2
- Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (Non-canonical appearance)
- 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
- Portal (Non-canonical appearance) (Cheats only)
- The Final Hours of Portal 2 (Non-canonical appearance)