This chapter details Gordon Freeman’s infiltration in the Combine Citadel.
It is also a playground for the newly charged Gravity Gun, having many Combine Soldiers and Elites to kill.
After making his way into the Citadel, through use of a ‘Stalker pod,’ Gordon is caught in a Combine weapon confiscation field.
This destroys most of Gordon’s weapons, except for the Gravity Gun, which causes the field to malfunction and ‘overcharge’ the Gravity Gun.
The Gravity Gun becomes infused with dark energy, making it much more powerful, capable of picking up and throwing organic beings. Making use of the overcharged gravity gun, Gordon fights his way through the Citadel against large numbers of Combine soldier, as Dr. Breen tries, increasingly desperately, to convince Gordon to surrender.
Gordon is forced to enter another Stalker pod, and is quickly discovered by camera and transferred to the top of the Citadel to Breen’s office.
Click on the thumbnails below to open a 1024 pixel wide image.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.
This post is part of the The Replay Experience Experiment event. This is a chance to replay all the Half-Life games and discuss them based on our experiences since we first played them.
The intro and trivia text are taken from the CombineOverWiki, a fan-supported, editable wiki covering the Half-Life series of games.
On the left is a complete text walkthrough for Half-Life 2.
It has been written by Stanley E. Dunigan and updated with all the tricks and tips from PlanetPhillip.Com readers.
It is in PDF format, meaning you can open it directly in modern browsers or download it and print it.
(Left-click to open and right-click to save)
You can purchase Half-Life 2 directly through Steam and could be playing in within moments, depending on your internet connection.
I have definitely lost the sense of wonder I had when I first played this chapter.
The scale and power shown here is supposed to blow your mind and make you feel like a little speck of dust compared to the grandeur of the Universal Union. What they don’t understand is the self belief that Gordon has.
This chapter certainly impresses and shows us more behind the scenes details and it also gives us the power of Super Gravity Gun which was worth losing all the other weapons for.
Breen is seen and heard through this chapter, vocalising the visual impression mentioned earlier. Essentially, this chapter moves us up to the top of the tower and ready for the final battle.
When problem I also encountered was the room I played in was bright and I think that took away from the immersion, but that’s my fault.
I’m ready for the shit to really hit the fan!
Playtime: 29 minutes
Our Benefactor is set to show the real aspect of the Combine. That’s what I think at least.
When we reach the citadel we only can be impressed by the structure, huge, taller, seems to be fallen from the sky. If we look carefully we can see many vestige in the hole and, upper, a building which is now part of the citadel foundation.
I still don’t understand those hammers, does the Citadel is so heavy, requiring cramming the ground even after it’s completion ?
Then we enter by lower levels, even it seems to be as deep as it’s high. There, is the very symbolic thing to me : pods noise. I cant” associate it to something else.
The setting is now clear, no human building or technologies. It’s not the mixing seen in Nova Prospekt, but pure Sci-Fi. I salute designers and mappers work.
The ride in pod shows many things : how the Combine have replaced Vortigaunt in salvation, a djÃ -vu, and the conviction that the rebellion is not ready to enter in.
At last, action ! We only have one weapon (sorry for this crowbar, Barn…) but what a weapon ! I only can say it was very amazing in my first play, and for many replay later.
During infiltration Dr Breen does some speech. He want talking to Gordon, despites his soldiers. He try to question Gordon about his behave by setting doubts in his mind.
Finally, a second pod ride showing more things, especially some Xen animals. At this point the Citadel seems to be higher and higher.
CAUGHT MY EYES
This is the last crab, choose it’s way to death >).
Where is he now ?
None, the elevator is a bit tricky but I have THE weapon.
MY FRENCH LET’s PLAY
The Citadel at last. It’s been the goal ever since we stepped out of the train station and it loomed over the city. We’ve caught sight of it many times throughout the game, and in “Follow Freeman!” we’ve been getting closer and closer to it. And finally we reach it.
It looks and feels alien, even if it is metal. The architecture is certainly Combine, and the blue lighting gives a cold feel to everything. To add to the sense of being out-of-sorts in an alien environment, the combat also takes an about face with the Super Gravity Gun, we begin to buy into the One Free Man idea – maybe we are the all-powerful savior of the rebels after all.
What stands out for me the most in the Citadel is the audio design. Some music from Half-Life is used to nice effect, but what I really was impressed by is how well the ambient sounds were combined to give the Citadel a musical nature. The metallic hammering sounds blend well to give an unnerving soundtrack to your journey in the pod. Even the steps of the striders below you echo Gordon’s own heart thumping. If you want to see (er, hear) what I’m talking about I urge you to play the beginning section again paying attention to the sounds during the pod ride.
Playtime: 25 minutes
After two chapters” worth of engaging and climactic urban warfare in the streets of City 17, we finally reach the Combine’s true seat of power: the Citadel. Valve have employed various subtle methods of illustrating the Citadel’s importance and significance all throughout the game; as a matter of fact, it’s the first thing we see when we exit the Train Station at the beginning of the game.
Raising the Bar explicitly tells us that Valve wanted to make the game’s end goal something the player would have in mind from the very beginning of the game (and that this was one of Half-Life’s failings). In that regard, the Citadel certainly accomplishes its mission.
As we exit the narrow brick tunnel into the giant abyss that cradles the Citadel, we realize the true scale and nature of this ominous construction. Not only is it staggeringly tall, but it also stretches far underground into a crater that it likely formed on its own, by being directly teleported into the sky, and crashing down into place.
Such an impact would have clearly devastated the area, and we see the Citadel’s dark frame surrounded by damaged and wrecked buildings, as well as the now iconic Smart Walls and watchtowers. We’re now firmly in the Combine’s territory, without any allies by our side.
At the same time, it’s oddly quiet, and the desolate, apocalyptic stillness is really unsettling. It’s almost as if the Combine themselves have abandoned this place, but as we’re about to discover, they’ve done anything but that.
We quickly discover the Citadel’s unwelcoming and alien nature, as the player is only able to enter its frame by jumping on the massive thumpers that are constantly hammering the ground underneath; presumably keeping Antlions away from the entire city by virtue of their size and strength, or perhaps giving the Citadel flatter and more stable footing (the thing can’t have gotten so deep into the earth simply by crashing down).
But it’s the interior of the Citadel that gives us a real glimpse into the Combine’s true nature. After all, this thing came down from the Overworld “as-is”, and that shows: it really doesn’t seem fit for any kind of human usage or habitation. Bright, clinical white light of unknown origin is the only illumination in the Citadel’s dark halls, and many of its cavernous halls seem to have almost no purpose apart from storage and transport. The place doesn’t seem to have any entrances or exits, either, which is even more unsettling. The architecture is, in many ways, almost incomprehensible, but very clearly gives off an imposing and aggressive vibe.
Mostly, however, it’s very utilitarian and shows us how the off-world Combine empire would build a place that could reasonably “contain” any kind of species, but not actually “house” them in any actual way, not without them being completely transformed by the Combine’s war machine. Stylistically, the Citadel is a true embodiment of Half-Life’s cosmicism – humanity is little more than a tiny speck on the Combine’s radar, and while we have been fighting in the most memorable and remarkable of Earthbound settings, our only true destination lies off-world.
What is being transported and stored, you ask? Stalkers, Overwatch soldiers, and many of the Combine’s synthetic fighting vehicles. The Stalkers are hard at work performing maintenance on the Citadel itself, while the soldiers are presumably brought here to await deployment (we see Dropship containers being transported by rail throughout the Citadel). We also see a few synths that have never been deployed against Freeman himself, like the Crab and Mortar Synths (which were actually meant to be used in the game itself, during the earlier development stages), though these are presumably also actively used by the Combine (HL2’s Prima Guide describes them as part of the Overwatch’s “backbone”).
Gordon rather recklessly decides to hitch a ride on the Citadel’s integrated prisoner transport rail system. Taking the pod on the right side will lead to Gordon’s premature demise by way of the dark energy-spewing device that sterilizes the pod. Taking the one on the left leads us to a lengthy “tram ride” of sorts (isn’t it ironic that Half-Life 2 only gets its first true tram ride until the end of the game), taking Gordon on a tour of the Citadel’s facilities. Strangely enough, it almost seems as if it’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and given the Combine’s ability to distort dimensional space, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case!
As Unq mentioned above, we also get some amazing sound design during this bit, most notably the infamous “citadel_ambient_voices_loop1” and “citadel_ambient_scream_loop1.wav” (among a few others), which both set an incredibly eerie atmosphere, and make the player really unsure regarding what they’re about to face.
Next, we run into a confiscation field. Presumably, the Combine has detected Gordon, and intends to detain him and bring him to Breen’s office. However, the dark energy fails to actually annihilate the Gravity Gun, which leads to it actually being super-charged with that energy. The rest is history, as Valve abandons all semblance of balance in favor of letting the player throw anything and everything at the Overwatch soldiers attempting to intercept his deadly course, including themselves.
It’s a real spectacle, but thanks to Valve’s clever and well-crafted level design, it manages to remain challenging. Thanks to the shortage of health kits and armor batteries, it’s a lot more exciting and tense than some of the game’s more “consistent” combat engagements.
After all that, we eventually hitch one last pod ride which takes us to the very pinnacle of the Citadel… or at least as close as we can get. We even get to see City 17 from high above (as noted by the OverWiki, it’s actually a satellite image of Brooklyn, New York) – the lack of detail is a bit disappointing, but it’s still a really impressive vista.
Playtime: 17 minutes
This is Half Life’s quintessential Combine level starting with a interesting sewer tunnel and a dark drop off. A little retro platform jumping leads to a bit of a maze with very deep falls and a not so clear path. When I first played I was stumped many times and had to resort to some online help as even no-clipping failed to show me the path! This time it was still a little difficult but at least I enjoyed the ride, after trying the wrong one just for old times sake. What a laugh, not! The first time I had that short ride and frazz!
The Combine’s power is shown during the ride and you do see some very disturbing creatures along with their biomechanoid tech.
And then you loose all your weapons, blue screen, writing, black then restart! CRASH!
The new blue gravgun is this chapter’s revelation; such amazing power to capture and spit bodies to oblivion, whilst grinning as heavy tech is wrenched from walls. Nice sound effects too!
The strider battle is a little epic, set in that deep trench on a glassy floor with hordes of combine to boot.
Topped off with an epic high-rise ride as you watch the city lights from above through gaps in the citadels walls and Tron-like clouds float past as you ascend, you feel the might you are facing. Bit of a niggle here; the city would be rather dark as, from my ground view, it seems most off the city is lit by fires! But it still impresses.
CAUGHT MY GAZE:
Those creepy stalkers and unidentified creatures ambling along a walkway.
The dragonfly style rotor blades on the gunships.
CAUGHT MY EARS:
Breen on the monitors, blah, blah, blah, righteous banter!
DEATHS: None, well one for a laugh!
PLAYTIME: 15 mins.
FIVE WORDS OR LESS REVIEW:
The only way is up! Baby 😀
Sorry for the long wait, had a lot of work with finals and stuff.
Our Benefactors is a pretty easy level, that was obviously created with the goal of making the player visit the Citadel. There are some very long sequences in stalker pods where you have absolutely no control over your character, and you can only look around. The design is incredible, and it clearly shows the power of the combine. There are still a few fighting scenes and some puzzles, which are very nice. We also get the super gravity gun, which is by far the best weapon in the game as it combines the advantages of multiple weapons.
– Infinite ammo (gravity gun, crowbar, bugbait)
– Long range (.357, crossbow, rpg)
– instant kill (crossbow, rpg, grenades)
– No damage for user (unlike explosives)
the only downside is that it destroys the weapons of the soldiers you kill, but I don’t think many of us would have used them anyway
We learn the real purpose of the combine energy balls, they are not just weapons :0
– Kill the strider
didn’t do it, good luck with that one
– Skip the entire elevator climb
Requires a LOT of luck. you’ll see that in HL2DWaHMoV
Five words or less review:
stalker pods seem uncomfortable
11 minutes 20 seconds 542 milliseconds
So much time lost in the stalker pods :/
Good to see you back! There’s no feeling quite like finishing the last exams, is there? TREE is up to Lost Coast currently, so not far to catch up..
yeah I know, I didn’t have time to play and upload, but I kept watch over the project. and I’m already done with lost coast, I’ve actually started Episode 1 already, so that I wouldn’t be late.
I’ll write my lost coast review soon ^^
What are those fat bugs we see before the end?
5 words or less review: Yay for yoyo!
Playtime: 17 minutes