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1. GMan

GMan has become easily the most prominent (at least plot-wise) character in the entire Half Life Saga. Nameless and shrouded in secrecy, GMan single-handedly orchestrated the Resonance Cascade, which brought upon the Earth the Portal Storms as well as the invasion of the Combine. Even after all of these things, it is not clear who he works for, what his motives are, and who else (besides Gordon and Eli) knows of his existence.

Does anyone else know about GMan besides Gordon? GMan operates in mysterious ways, obviously not bound by the laws of physics or even space-time itself. He can make himself appear or disappear anywhere at will, or can make himself appear to only a single person at a time. We know that GMan isn't simply a hallucination of Gordon's; Dr. Eli Vance, Gordon's former colleague at Black Mesa, mentions to Gordon that GMan told him prior to the Resonance Cascade that Vance should "prepare for unforseeen consequences". We also know that GMan has also spoken to Alyx Vance on occasion. With this in mind, it could easily be extrapolated that GMan's influence acts far beyond Gordon and his close friends, perhaps even extending beyond humanity, to the vortigaunts, and even the Combine itself.

So who do you think is GMan & what is his goal ? The official HL2E1 site calls GMan a "sinister inter dimensional bureaucrat." The way things are going, I believe that G-Man is an agent of an interstellar rebel alliance, larger organization, or entire race (assuming a human form), seeking to try to break down the ruthless Combine empire, an empire which seems to have existed far before the events of HL1. This rebel force has incredible technology to be able to control teleportation in a highly advanced way, and is arguably much more advanced than the Combine itself. GMan could even be a divine being, though I'm not a big fan of that idea. I don't think GMan and his rebel alliance really cares about humanity all that much, but rather, they see Earth as a viable battleground to fight the Combine on, or a strategic way to divert the Combine's attention. I feel that GMan's motives and goals are the very nexus of the entire Half Life Saga. I feel that GMan is the deepest secret of the entire Half-Life saga, and once he is fully uncovered, we will fully understand the core of the entire series.

Doesn't G-Man say you're working for the highest bidder - does that mean you were contracted out for the Rebellion? As I see it, yes, Gordon Freeman is free for contract work outside of working for GMan. However, he's not on a contract during HL2. At the end of HL2 G-Man tells Gordon that he has received offers for Gordon's work. He doesn't mention once that he has actually taken up any of the offers, however. Right now that highest bidder is G-Man, though that may change.

What's in G-Man's suitcase? No idea. My best guess is that in order to portray himself as a respectable "human" he chose to imitiate a businessman. In which case the briefcase is simply a prop. Some of you emailed me a screenshot of a texture of the inside of the suitcase found in HL1 by noclipping, but the thing is, we were never meant to see that. It was probably an artist having fun, because if the only way we can see it is by noclipping, then it was probably not part of the intended game experience.

2. The Combine Empire

Who are the Combine? The Combine (also known as the Synth, or the Universal Union) are a ruthless empire that invades planets in order to leech resources, technology, knowledge, and power. As a race, the Combine are a "combination" of all the species they conquer, with bases on many different planets all populated by vastly different Combine modified beings. Through genetic technology, bio-engineering, and electronic implantation, the Combine is basically a "master-race" that combines together the best qualities of all the races they destroy (in terms of knowledge, weaponry, and sentient beings) We can see from the events on Xen and Earth that the Combine are technologically advanced, methodical, systematic, and powerful.

2.1.1 - Some Rebellion Propaganda. As you can see, the Combine Earth forces are a mix between the Combine technology and Human hosts. The rebels are trying to suggest that integrating with the Combine Overwatch is a regressive move instead of progressive.

2-1-1 The Combine Overwatch Humanoid Task Force is the main force behind the Combine's presence on Earth. This force is designed specifically for combat with Earth troops, and were built from captured Earth Troops, implanted with Combine technology. This is an advantage because these troops can navigate easily through existing cities that were built for human usage, and make use of human weaponry and tools.

Human citizens willing to convert to the Combine Overwatch force can do so without biological implant and become Civil Protection (not Overwatch) soldiers themselves. They are ensured a higher quality of life (than non-Combine humans) and better meals, both incentives for working for the Combine.

The Combine soldiers that Gordon fights in HL2 are exclusive to Earth, and do not represent the actual Combine citizens. Combine soldiers also employ the use of advanced combine bio-technology with rudimentary A.I such as Striders, Manhacks, and Scanners (perhaps parts of older planets the Combine have conquered).

2-2 What's the relationship between the Xen monsters and the Combine? Both of these races came over to Earth during The Portal Storms. The Xen were the race that the Combine conquered right before they conquered Earth. Once the Combine developed themselves on Earth, they found that they had a good enough hold on the monsters that they could use them as biological weapons. The Combine can place several headcrabs in a shell and launch this shell into a rebel area, where the headcrabs can de-mobilize the humans without requiring any Overwatch deployment at all.

2-3 What is the Civil Protection Unit?
This force consists of a great number Combine soldiers (both human and trans-human) whose job is to keep order within the city, using forceful tactics, similar to the Secret Police in Stalinist Russia. Apartments are raided on a regular basis. The Civil Protection Unit also imprisons and executes all that can be found in opposition to Wallace Breen's outlook on society.

2-4 What kind of Combine beside the Overwatch exist? The Overwatch soldiers are modified humans with cranial and biological Combine implants. Other captured humans or rebels (that are not fit for combat) are converted into Stalkers, who work for the Combine. The Combine hopes to make Stalkers and Overwatch soldiers out of all the remaining humans on Earth, and ultimately, enslave the entire human race.

Well what do the actual Combine look like? Well we can see one talking to Wallace Breen on a com-link, twice in the game. Here's a screenshot of the first time (and here's an even better picture straight from Hammer, HL2's editor). They've become fat and slug-like due to their dependence on their technology and other planets to do their dirty work for them. We also see Combine escape pods being jettisoned out of the Citadel in Episode 1.