Bullsquids are a fictional alien species in the science fiction computer game Half-Life. They are bipedal, highly aggressive creatures that appear throughout the Black Mesa Research Facility due to a dimensional rift. Bullsquids appear to be able to survive, if not thrive, in environments that are unfriendly or even toxic to humans, including sewers and pools of radioactive, chemical, or biological waste. In Xen, the border world from where they came (but to which they are not native), bullsquids are sometimes found near pools of an unknown liquid that has healing properties to humans. Note that the bullsquid is referred to as the bullchicken in the console, (e.g., "give monster_bullchicken"); this is probably because in the beta version and artwork they were named as such and remained like that, while their official name now is "bullsquid." Bullsquids are notably the first Xen lifeforms to be seen in the game, when Gordon Freeman is accidentally teleported to Xen for a few seconds.
The body of a bullsquid is vaguely similar in appearance to that of a small theropod, with two short, muscular legs and a thick tail that tapers to a point. The thorax abruptly joins the creature's head with no neck or other visible separation. A typical specimen stands roughly one meter tall and about two meters in length. Two slit-pupiled eyes are mounted on either side of its head.
The bullsquid's most striking feature, however, is the collection of bright red, tentacular protrusions which surround its mouth and allow it to grasp prey. The tentacles are most probably red because bullsquids tend to eat human remains, covering the tentacles in blood. The bullsquid can also charge an opponent with surprising speed and force; these two attributes (tentacles and a tendency to charge) lend the creature its portmanteau name.
The bullsquid's overall coloration is roughly comparable to that of a spotted cat: its skin is a sandy brown covered on its upper surfaces with dark spots. The tail features a pair of prominent, outlined spots, one on either side, that are noticeably different than the dark spots on its back. These spots are similar in appearance to the bullsquid's eyes and may serve as a form of mimicry to confuse potential predators or lure prey much like the eyespots on various terrestrial animals. The creature's skin appears to be slimy, similar to that of a terrestrial amphibian such as a frog.
Bullsquids display a very territorial disposition, as they have often been seen attacking other creatures and even members of their own species. They viciously attacked headcrabs in Half-Life, usually not stopping until all headcrabs in the vicinity had been eliminated.
Although being intensely territorial, the bullsquid seems to be much more docile while in the border-world, or Xen, as seen in multiple areas in Half-Life and Half-Life: Opposing Force. When seen in the mysterious fluid that has such healing properties to Humans, the bullsquids do not attack, but just look on as you run by or kill them.
HD Pack Differences
The Half-Life High Definition Pack version of the bullsquid features a few key physical differences from the original version.
- The tail has a hooked claw at its tip. This may have been introduced to explain the large amount of damage caused by the bullsquid's spin attack.
- Each tentacle surrounding the bullsquid's mouth ends in a distinct sharp claw or perhaps more appropriately, "tooth," based on their white coloration.
- The prominent "eyespots" on the either side of the tail are missing.
- The eyes are black and glossy as opposed to white and relatively dull on the original version.
The bullsquid has an array of offensive capabilities: At close range, a hostile bullsquid will either maul its victim with its teeth, or suddenly spin around, delivering a powerful strike with its tail, often causing a gibbing. Additionally, the bullsquid is able to "spit" a toxic, bile-colored substance from its mouth. While not overly accurate, or fast, it causes moderate damage, even at very long range.
While not in Half-Life 2 itself, the book Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar explains that the creatures were, at least, going to be visible or mentioned during it. Dr. Eli Vance's lost leg was to be explained as a result of a bullsquid attack, and one of the scenes during a plot-reveal scene would have shown bullsquids frollicking outside a supermarket. In the leaked pre-alpha of the game, it seems that bullsquids were mainly intended to be fought underwater while swimming. Their skin color was changed to a deep maroon, while another alternate texture made them pale green.
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