So apparently the Combine have weaponized headcrabs. This is not something I had foreseen. (And apparently some of these headcrabs come pre-stocked with explosives, but that’s another blog entry.)
Aside from just being a cool idea, let’s step back for a moment and think about this logically. When humans conquer something, what’s the usual objective? Power, right? (Not that there aren’t other motives, but we’ll get to those in a moment.) If the Combine is launching zombie-creating headcrabs at people–rendering entire areas inconvenient to reclaim at best–then this means one of two things: they don’t care about humans, or they don’t care about land. (Or maybe they care about neither one.) Maybe we’ll learn which later on–maybe the Combine actually will send troops in to clean out the area. Or maybe they’ll be content to let all the non-City areas become post-apocalyptic nightmares, which is exactly what will happen if they use this weapon regularly.
Which choice the Combine makes is actually very important. See, we know they want to keep humans alive–clearly they have systems in place to provide for them at least minimally, and aside from that, they didn’t exterminate the species on invading, which it seems they could have done fairly easily if they had wanted to. So we serve some purpose to them. Slave labor, maybe? All of those City citizens must have jobs–perhaps they’re being forced to work for the Combine. (What a human could possibly do that would benefit such a technological species is beyond me, but then humans have found uses for slaves in all sorts of cultures, so who knows.) Clearly they DON’T care enough about humans to worry about infecting an entire countryside’s worth of population though. (Unless, like I said, they have some clean up plan in place–but that would be a LOT of resources to spend, when they could have just used regular rockets and weapons instead, if it was something they cared about.)
I’m going to assume that the Combine understands resource management, and thus doesn’t care about reclaiming the places they’ve infected. That pretty well eliminates land and power as a motivation for them. This has gone from 1984 to something far, far worse, just like that. Even the Party, while it certainly wasn’t shy about killing those who opposed it, wanted as many bodies under it’s control as possible–more people, more power, more laborers too. But this seems to demonstrate that the Combine are oddly indifferent to that. This is especially troubling given the elaborate systems they have in place for supporting humans within the City. They clearly NEED humans–but they don’t need ALL the humans they can get. And they don’t need our land either.
I suppose their motive could be resources–if you’re going to use magic alien tech to strip mine an area (or whatever), I guess you don’t really care one way or the other if it was covered in zombies before you started laser-drilling. If that was the case though, wouldn’t it have been easier to simply exterminate the humans before sucking the world dry? And why haven’t we seen any evidence of that at all, if resource gathering is indeed their goal?
No, the Combine want humans. But they don’t care WHAT humans, and they don’t care if many are needlessly lost along the way. This is getting into Twilight Zone “To Serve Man” territory. And while I doubt they’re using us for food (and they’re not right? Because that would be stupid), whatever cog we ARE serving as must be far from pleasant. And I have the distinct and very nasty feeling we haven’t even seem the tip of the iceberg yet. (Also, I’m only like four hours into the game, and there’s no way Valve would tip their whole hand this early.)