If you have played Half Life 2 (or been watching the LP on my Youtube channel), you know these guys:
They’re the “Civil Protection” (police, in other words I think) of the Orwellian nightmare that is City 17. (And other cities; Dr. Breen apparently rules over at least one other city and probably more.) From what some in the comments have said, and from the fact that Barney is able to successfully infiltrate them (at least that certainly appears to be what he’s doing), these Civil Protection…er…officers (?) are nothing more than regular humans under the employ of The Bad Guys. Who those Bad Guys are, we don’t know yet. We DO know that Dr. Breen is their liaison and their envoy…but even he sounds as if he’s under their thumb. He’s just a propaganda spouting mouthpiece that (I would wager) doesn’t have much power. I actually assumed he was the one in control on first seeing him, but his second speech (the “reproductive suppression field” one) shows that he really has little to no say over what actually happens. (Unless that’s all an act, of course…) Are the people controlling him human? Alien? None of the above? Dunno. Assume we’ll be finding out down the road somewhere.
Coming back to my original topic, which are the Civil Protection cops: I expressed surprise in my LP when not *every* single cop tried to beat me. This led to the following, very interesting exchange in the comments section:
Comment by Half Life nerd on July 14, 2011 8:37 pm
Actually I have to say I never really noticed this when I went through the first time but at the start of the game the Combine seem to have mixed relations, most of the time they will just hit you but others will wave there hands or put it in front of you, so some of them may not be as much d***heads as you might of thought.
Or i could be wrong and there just a bunch of evil steroid monkeys who developed a 3 strike system.
Comment by Alamo on July 15, 2011 3:09 pm
Actually, that would make sense. Soldierhawk missed it, but if you talk to one of women at the food line, she says that she’s considering joining the Overwatch because they get ration increases.
Comment by Half Life nerd on July 15, 2011 3:45 pm
So I guess more people are just desperate rather than plain brutal.
So remember Hawk under the gas mask the person is not always a demon.
So, these thugs are more than just aliens or monsters. They’re people who have–for whatever reason–gotten into bed with the enemy. Given what I’ve seen of the way these invaders treat people so far, I would gauge joining Civil Protection as the rough equivalent of joining the Nazis in a similar capacity–the major difference being that the Nazis only expected their representatives to grossly mistreat minorities; the Bad Guys, it seems, see everyone as something to use, abuse and discard.
As was pointed out in the comments, I’m sure there are good reasons for joining Civil Protection–food being a big one (that was specifically mentioned by an NPC I missed talking to, it seems). One could surmise that they afford their officers and families safety from the constant harassment that other citizens endure. Maybe even better places to live. (Not that anywhere in City 17 looks particularly nice, but then we’ve only seen a small part of it so far.) And it’s true: whether by design or by a fluke of AI/programing, not all of the Civil Protection cops seem “out to get you.” Mr. Soda Can did, obviously, but there were also the cops at the security check, who didn’t touch me at all (except the one who shoved me when I tried to run away, but hey–he could have used his electric night stick.)
All of this leads me to believe that the Civil Protection cops are, like Half-Life Nerd says, more desperate than brutal. Naturally this kind of opportunity WOULD attract the type of bully who enjoys inflicting pain–like Mr. Soda Can–but I’m sure some are just trying to get by, and not particularly interested in hurting others for the sake of it.
It’s an interesting conundrum, and a classic moral dilemma: how far do you go to protect yourself and the people you care about? Is it worth having to hurt many, many other–albiet nameless–people? I mean, from where I sit, I like to think that I’m the sort of person who would much rather take a beating than give it. But after months, maybe years? And if my family was starving and there was no other way to get food? I don’t know. I think if we’re honest, none of us are really capable of knowing how we would react to a terrible choice like that one. Let’s hope none of us ever have to find out.