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Half-Life Wiki
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Imagecat.png This article is about the Half-Life 2 mechanical Scanner. For its predecessor, see Combot.
Imagecat.png For other uses, see Scanner (disambiguation).

"Oh hell, Gordon! Were you followed again?"
Barney Calhoun[src]

The City Scanner, also known as Scanner Type I[2] and often referred to simply as Scanner, is a lightly armored, flying security camera used by the Combine to monitor City 17's (and possibly other cities) residents. Its Synth counterpart is the Shield Scanner.


City Scanner using its searchlight on the Trainstation Plaza.

Scanners are equipped with a searchlight and a camera used to take photographic images. The flash emitted when taking an image can temporarily blind a person, even when not looking directly at the flash. The scanner also has a spotlight mounted on its top, which is used for illumination and can move independently from its source.

Scanners are powered by a single Combine battery, which can occasionally be salvaged from a destroyed unit and reused for the HEV Suit. Scanners are lightly armored and can be destroyed easily by gunfire, impacting against walls or being hit by objects. A critically damaged scanner will usually attempt to kamikaze dive into its attacker, while spinning and emitting an alarm.

As the name implies, Scanners are generally used only in cities and are rarely encountered anywhere else. They are commonly seen patrolling City 17's Canals, searching for refugees. Other applications include reconnaissance and searching for wanted individuals. Scanners help by locating targets and alerting other nearby Combine units. During emergencies, Scanners can be mass-deployed in thousands from the Citadel, to perform a city-wide, and possibly out-of-city search such as when Gordon Freeman was detected in City 17.

Interestingly, it appears that parts from a salvaged City Scanner were used in one of the more recent additions to Dog; both machines have a similar frontal design, though Dog's face possesses three face plates while Scanners have four.

Behind the scenes

The Combot.

  • As the Combot, the mechanical Scanner was to throw gas from its front,[3] and fire from the small ergots on its two sides.[1]
  • The mechanical Scanner design was initially modeled after the shape and movement of a piranha.[1]
  • 11 sound files found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta files also indicate that the mechanical Scanner was to talk directly to people via prerecorded messages. Spoken by a robotic female voice, they include sentences such as "Citizen, do not move.", "You may proceed.", "Hold still for scan.", "Hands on your head." or "Violation has been noted.".[4]


  • When a City Scanner is "pissed" (as stated by Gabe Newell in Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar), their "pupil" contracts. This happens when the City Scanner is injured.
  • Strangely, if a City Scanner is spawned in Garry's Mod whilst the "notarget" option is enabled or if it doesn't see any kind of enemy NPCs, it will just start flying up into the sky and won't behave normally unless brought back down with the physics gun. However, in properly coded maps, they will perform normally.
  • If the player uses the cheat "notarget" the Scanner will still flash at them but will not chase them.
  • It is possible to destroy a scanner during the first chapter, when Gordon is unarmed. The scanner present during the rooftop chase can be destroyed by throwing objects at it; after being destroyed it will drop a suit battery that can be carried all the way to Dr. Kleiner's lab.


List of appearances


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
  2. Half-Life 2 Prima Guide
  3. 3.0 3.1 Playable Half-Life 2 Beta
  4. Playable Half-Life 2 Beta files