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I have played Portal (loved it), but not Half Life.

First, what is Black Mesa? And how is Portal related to Black Mesa? I know GLaDOS mentions it in the "Still Alive" tribute at the end of the game. But what's the relation? Please feel free to be specific, since I doubt I'd pick up Half Life anytime soon.

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You SHOULD pick up Half-Life anytime soon. –  Shinrai Apr 22 '11 at 15:44
    
Yes I should, is it just for computer or is there say the entire series for a console? Outside steam... I don't like steam all that much, and I don't know why. –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 15:50
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@Justin - There are console versions, and physical copies of the PC versions. (Especially because Half-Life predates Steam - I am pretty sure Steam originally launched with Half-Life 2) The Orange Box has Half-Life 2 and both episodes. –  Shinrai Apr 22 '11 at 16:04
    
Huh, so Half Life 1 is separate and Orange Box contains the Half-Life 2 (2 episodes) or both versions of Half Life? –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 16:28
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related: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/122/… –  Drake Apr 22 '11 at 16:31
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4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Both Black Mesa and Aperture Science are trying to develop portal technology, they are basically competitors.

Aperture Science develops the portal gun on the Borealis (a research ship, just one of the many places). But the ship disappears. Gordon finds the location of Borealis in HL2 and also finds out that their portal tech is far superior to Black Mesa's.

GLaDOS is made operational in one of Aperture's enrichment centers to portray the power of the new portal tech in Portal 1. Here's a timeline of the events.

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So Black Mesa built portal technology to but caused an alien Apocalypse? If I'm reading this correctly? –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 15:13
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yeah.. they do some stuff which cause a dimensional fissure and all the Nihilanth's people come over. then they nuke the facility and because of the stuff going on in black mesa facility the combine get 'interested' and use the massive portal storms to invade. you should really read the timeline, it is explained quite well in that –  bronzebeard Apr 22 '11 at 15:19
    
Ok you get the answer... love the timeline link. Saves me from asking more questions. Thank you! All be it both of you answered the question and both should get the points... –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 17:00
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It is not yet known what is in the Borealis ship. It is not mentioend anywhere what is in it. Its still a cliffhanger. –  rsman Jul 19 '11 at 17:58
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Black Mesa and Aperture Science were competing science research facilities in the same universe. They were rivals, and continually tried to out-do each other.

Aperture ended up falling apart (probably because of the death of its CEO, Cave Johnson), whereas a Black Mesa experiment caused an apocalyptic resonance cascade, throwing the world into the turmoil experienced in the Half-Life series of games.

The references in either game (so far) to the other are generally vague. There have been rumors of the two overlapping more in Half-Life 2: Episode 3, but they're nothing more than rumors.

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damn! 1 min. too late –  bronzebeard Apr 22 '11 at 15:06
    
So if Aperture Science fell apart how is it GLaDius is still running around putting pour robots (and a human) through testing? Did they build GLaDius to well? –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 15:07
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@Justin The company fell apart, but GLaDOS (the AI system in charge of the facility) remained. –  StrixVaria Apr 22 '11 at 15:08
    
Poor GLaDOS... now the issues make sense. I just wish you could permanently put her out of her misery... –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 15:12
    
Ultimately I choose the answer with the helpful resource. Loved your answer, being the first one that chimed in and the most concise answer. I just want the community to find the link... All of this changes if you added the link to, then I'm flipping a coin and leaving the StackOverflow Paradox. –  Justin Apr 22 '11 at 17:02
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Aperture Science and Black Mesa are science facilities in the same universe. And they continually tried to outdo one another. But when Aperture Science created the portal gun (it's full name the "handheld portal device") handheld means that the portal gun is a smaller version of something else bigger and better, something that was probably on the borealis ship. Black Mesa could not make anything better than Aperture Science so they decided to steal the ship.

In Portal 2 you see an empty ship dock. In Portal one, in one of the secret rooms if you put your ear against the wall you can hear Doug Ratman rambling on about something and what I did was slow that down 25% and you hear what he is actually saying. In one part of it he says 'The ship was stolen' which means that Black Mesa has taken it, since they are both rivals in the same universe. I hope you find this useful if you have any questions, just ask me!

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And, one of the prerecorded messages that Cave Johnson leaves is

"Greetings friend. I'm Cave Johnson, CEO of Aperture Science. You might know us as a vital participant of the 1968 senate hearing on missing astronauts, and you've most likely used one of the many products we invented but other people have somehow managed to steal from us. Black Mesa can eat my bankrupt..."

If you look at the last line, you can clearly infer that Johnson blames Black Mesa for his company going bankrupt, and because of the "products we invented but {Black Mesa}... managed to steal".

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