Gordon Freeman is a Douche
Disclaimer: I haven’t played the original Half Life, so I have no idea how this transfers over, and how many of my complaints belong to it rather than Black Mesa. It makes no difference. Similarly, I may have messed up some of the quotes, but I think you’ll get the idea. I like to think of myself as a friendly, helpful person. If a person’s standing on a street corner with a map looking confused, I’ll ask if they need a hand. I hold the door for strangers. I took an appallingly long time to play through Mass Effect 1 because there were all these sidequests; individuals would approach with a legitimate problem that ranged from life-altering to culture-saving, and I straight-up felt bad if I didn’t help. That’s why I’m having trouble playing through Black Mesa (the recent Half-Life 1 cover) – because Gordon Freeman is a total douche.
Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?
The game starts with Gordon being late – and the security guard comments on it. That’s a little unfortunate, but okay. It’s probably not that important. Then I’m walking around, trying to chat with my coworkers, and they tell me to bugger off, and usually rather impolitely:
“You’ll just have to wait until after the test.”
“We can talk later, Gordon!”
“Gordon, this had better be important… mm-hmm, I thought not.”
“Weren’t you supposed to be in the test chamber half an hour ago?”
Not only am I late, but I’m late for something that this entire section thinks is important. This is already speaking volumes about Gordon’s character.
Then comes the part with which I’m having the most trouble.
The calamity strikes, shit hits the fan, and people are dying left and right. As Gordon wanders around, trying to find a way out and a way to survive, he’ll encounter the occasional hiding scientist or wayward guard. “Thank goodness, Gordon!” they’ll say. They’re so glad to see him – another person who is not only alive, but seems to have a pretty good hold on the situation. “Yeah, we might live longer if we work together” they say. Excellent! So you gather a handful of people who think you’re their best bet for survival.
Then you come to some obstacle that cannot be surmounted; chest-high walls over which they cannot jump, doors that they cannot crouch under, or something else. Gordon, without a word, soldiers on. There’s no way to turn around, and say “bye.” He just… leaves. If you want, he can command them to stay; “Um, yeah. I’ll wait here,” they respond uncertainly, as they watch him walk away.
You may actually find a nice place to hide out – “We should be safe here – thanks!” they say. Gordon, without a word, soldiers on. Sure, he’s seen dozens of identical rooms, filled with identical bodies that thought they were safe. No warnings, no additional help – sure, you kids think you can survive here? Have fun. At least you’re out of my hair.
Even worse is when he finds a scientist hiding in a room – “it’s not safe, so I’m going to wait here until the situation is significantly improved” or “I’m going to wait out the catastrophe in here.” Gordon has seen the military gunning down scientists, and dozens of similarly fortified rooms with dozens of similarly lab-coat-wearing corpses. Nobody’s coming to rescue you, and the situation will not improve. There are two independent groups running around trying to kill everything that moves – you think that you, a scientist hiding behind a console, will survive? Sure. Have fun, kid. Let me know how that works out.
He shows up late to work on a day that is clearly of great import, he leaves people behind when they become too much trouble, and he doesn’t go out of his way to help the wayward strays he finds along his journey. While some might call this “realistic,” “utilitarian,” or simply “survivalist,” I think in a video game protagonist, his actions make him selfish and douchey.