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Half-Life Wiki
This subject is from the Black Mesa Incident era.This subject is from the Combine era.This is a good article.
Imagecat For other uses, see Scanner (disambiguation).

"We all have retinal scanner access. Escort us to the lobby, and we can get out of the lab!"

The retinal scanner is a device used by the Black Mesa personnel in the Black Mesa Research Facility.


Barney sector c

Security guard stationed near a retinal scanner in Sector C.

Half-Life and its expansions[]

  • When the only way to proceed further is to have a scientist or security guard operate a retinal scanner and there is only one available, it is vital to keep him alive, otherwise the "postmortem" message "Subject failed to effectively utilize human assets in achievement of goal" will show up and the game will restart. In that way the player is forced to think and be careful before shooting anything that moves.
  • When idle, the screen is blue. When used, it turns to orange and shows a green circle around a flesh-colored dot. When the access is granted, a beep can be heard. When the access is denied, a voice says "Access denied". Sometimes an idle retinal scanner will have display an active state, as seen for instance in the Advanced Biological Research Lab.
  • Some retinal scanners have the words "Caution: Avoid motion while retinal scan is in progress" above them.
  • After the Resonance Cascade many retinal scanners are broken, preventing the player from using the nearby door or forcing them to break the door window.
  • In Blue Shift, Barney and Dr. Rosenberg reach an older part of Black Mesa, where Hand Scanners and different Chargers are used. It is likely they were the primary scanners used in Black Mesa in the past, subsequently replaced by retinal scanners in the modernized areas of the facility.
  • In Decay, the brush retinal scanner was replaced by a detailed model. This shows the actual scanning component on a hinged pivot with the word "SECURITY" on it. The screen, when activated, shows a clockwise circling of a crosshair-like scanner process around an orange retinal image. It also contains a tube of electrical wires on the right hand side, lacks the flashing dots of the original version, and emits a buzzing sound instead of a voice answer when access is denied. This model also replaces the brush retinal scanner in the PlayStation 2 version of Half-Life.
  • The beeping sounds of the original version vary. Sometimes briefly, sometimes very long, and either high or low.
Kleiner scan

Dr. Kleiner using a retinal scanner to open the door to the Kleiner's Lab teleport.

Half-Life 2[]

In Half-Life 2, a retinal scanner is operated by Kleiner in his lab to access the teleport. Hidden inside a column, it can be accessed by moving the Black Mesa scientists portrait. It is not seen later, being mostly a nod to the previous episodes. When deploying and hiding back into the column, it uses Combine Camera sounds. It is unknown if it is a newly made scanner or a retconned Black Mesa scanner.

Behind the scenes[]

The Security Card was originally to fill this role but was cut in favor of the retinal scanner, forcing the player to preserve lives instead of picking a security card off a corpse.


List of appearances[]


External links[]