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Civil Protection is the Combine's law enforcement in all urban areas on Earth, including City 17. Its officers are called "Civil Protection." The spelling "Metro Cop" is also used, and "CP" is used by all Citizens and Resistance members when referring to them. The Overwatch Voice uses the term "Protection" and "Protection Teams." The entity uses the term "Metropolice" (the original term), and the subtitles use "MetroPolice."
While being part of the Combine Overwatch, Civil Protection officers are ordinary human volunteers who have "willingly" joined the Combine. Civil Protection officers joined either for more privileges, such as additional food, better living conditions, rewards for completing objectives and tasks (including "non-mechanical reproduction simulation"), an increase in authority and status over others, or out of genuine sympathy and identification with the Combine's aims.
Civil Protection officers do not receive biological modifications in any way, unlike the two other Overwatch units. Barney Calhoun is notable for having infiltrated the Combine by joining the Civil Protection ranks as an undercover Resistance member.
Civil Protection officers are the first enemy encountered in Half-Life 2 and are the main enemies throughout the first three chapters, though they make a few more appearances in later chapters set in City 17. They are armed with basic weapons and tend to attack in squads or groups. They can occasionally deploy Manhacks to flush the player out of cover; though they can easily be destroyed by a few hits.
A Civil Protection officer's uniform icludes a bullet-resistant vest, leather boots, and green slacks. An armband with "c17:i4o," emblazoned on it is worn on the right arm, and "C17" is printed on the back of the collar. Officers also wear white masks that conceal their faces, with built-in vocoders to disguise their voices. These masks contain a radio and air filters and are visually similar to a Soviet PMG gas mask. The mask is also able to display images such as pictures taken by Scanners for immediate facial recognition.
Civil Protection officers carry USP Match pistols and Stun Batons. In more critical circumstances, officers also use MP7s and Emplacement Guns with fire support from APCs and Hunter-Choppers. Some officers may be armed with a deployable Manhack and a Flare Gun to call for help in some instances.
Civil Protection officers are known to beat unarmed Citizens with Stun Batons at the slightest provocation; Barney Calhoun mentions being "way behind on [his] beating quota." It should be noted that Calhoun may be joking, playing on the violent nature of Civil Protection.
Officers regularly communicate with the Overwatch Voice over their radios. They are thus constantly fed mission objectives, rewards, reminders, and orders to respond to incidents, such as the locations of downed units or other criminal acts.
They are almost always encountered in small squads or teams and employ basic tactics, such as covering one another and running to cover when injured or reloading. Their tactical AI is noticeably poor compared to the Combine soldiers (possibly a design choice, to simplify combat).
Their behavior is aggressive towards criminals and they will often give pursuit to evading suspects. The Overwatch Voice also suggests that each squad has a particular leader. If so, the squad leaders are likely given the same uniforms as regular officers to prevent enemies from targeting them in a fight.
When killed, an officer's radio emits a prolonged tone similar to that of a flatlining ECG, followed by the Overwatch Voice declaring the officer down, along with their last known location and orders to nearby officers to respond. The constant radio chatter will generally give away officers positions before they are visible, indicating substandard training the officers receive compared with their military counterparts.
Civil Protection officers travel in APCs and Combine Dropships, often accompanied by City Scanners and Manhacks. Officers sometimes stand on Combine Watchtowers, giving them the benefit of a better view of their surroundings as well as a height advantage over their targets. They are also in an ideal location to fire flares, alerting the other nearby officers about enemy contacts.
Certain transmissions heard over the Civil Protection radios suggest that officers are rewarded with, in the words of the Overwatch Voice, "non-mechanical reproduction simulation" for good job performance. It is unknown what it implies, although it can be inferred that it is somehow sexual. Another reward addressed by the Overwatch Voice evokes a "family cohesion" being "preserved," suggesting that a mission failure might cause Civil Protection officers to be separated from their family.
Other radio transmissions indicate additional privileges given if an officer has their memory replaced, related to the promotion to Overwatch Soldier or Overwatch Elite by willfully surrendering more and more human features and characteristics. Another transmission suggests that officers have "anti-fatigue rations" of at least 3 mg; this is likely a psychoactive drug to help the individual stay awake longer.
The combat vests worn by Rebels are Civil Protection vests, either stolen from stocks or picked up from dead Civil Protection officers. Some rebels may have previously been Civil Protection officers, like Calhoun, and kept the armor.
If Gordon Freeman approaches any of the Civil Protection officers in the chapter "Point Insertion," they will respond with an order, commanding him to move away. If one continuously approaches them, they will light up their Stun Batons, giving a final warning. After that, interacting with those officers will make them violently attack or give chase for a limited distance. Another note is that throwing an object at an officer will instantly turn them aggressive and chase the player. Moreover, in some areas where a City 17 civilian is being interrogated or killed, the guards may be more aggressive.
After meeting Calhoun, Freeman eventually meets an officer who deliberately pushes a soda can off of a trash can and orders Freeman to pick it up and toss it in the bin. Since the guard blocks the only exit, the player can either follow this order with peace (and unlock the achievement "Submissive"). Throw the can at the Civil Protection officer (unlocking the achievement "Defiant"). Throw the can past the officer, or step back, causing them to pursue the player until they leave the building. If the player picks up the can and puts it in the bin, then picks it up again and throws it after the officer steps aside, the officer will still chase them.
Throughout most of the game, Civil Protection Officers are absent, only mentioned by Barney Calhoun and then encountered in the game's finale. Barney remarks, "Now it looks like we are going to have to cut a path through every chicken shit Metrocop who is having second thoughts about defending City Seventeen." Later we see Barney again next to a dead Civil Protection officer outside of the Technical Trainstation.
Civil Protection officers make a brief appearance in the game's final chapter, "Exit 17," attempting to stop Freeman from escorting the citizens to the train. The officers engage Freeman with MP7s while also deploying Manhacks in their assault. The officers only show up once the player reaches the last group to escort. This timing has given rise to the suggestion that the officers were trying to board the train for themselves to escape City 17, as it is unlikely that they would continue serving as rear guard units.
In Half-Life: Alyx, Civil Protection has a different and more minor role than the previous installments. Civil Protection officers are never directly fought in Half-Life: Alyx, but are encountered in the first chapter of the game, either patrolling the streets or driving the prisoner transport trucks. Specifically, two Civil Protection officers drive a transport truck holding Alyx Vance after her capture before they are killed by a grenade and the vehicle is taken off the road by Russell's drone.
Outside of the first part of the game, there are no encounters with officers. Criminal Holding mentioned early in the game likely refers to Civil Protection's main operational headquarters building (as opposed to the Overwatch Nexus), or part thereof, was to make an appearance in Half-Life 2.
10-0: Begin scanning
Airwatch: Aerial support
- Civil Protection officers are not as organized or effective as the other Overwatch units. They are generally armed with lighter weaponry and are not very accurate.
- Officers almost always work in groups. When in a firefight with a squad, it is advised to hide if possible and shoot while officers reload. As most of all combat they encounter is against unarmed and untrained Citizens, they will appear inexperienced in firefights against more competent opponents. Officers also do not carry out melee attacks unless armed with a Stun Baton.
- In the early Half-Life 2 levels, a few rounds from a pistol or a couple of hits from the crowbar will kill a Civil Protection officer. If they wield a Stun Baton in combat, they will drop a battery upon death it used to charge the armor of the HEV Suit. Later in the game, one of the most effective weapons against the officers is the MP7, which can dispatch large numbers of them at once.
- Civil Protection Team units will hammer your cover (if breakable) until you have no protection.
- In the Canals, many explosive barrels are on, under, or near wooden structures. Officers tend to stand on these structures. Shooting these barrels will provide more effective (and more spectacular) results. Officers will also occasionally use these barrels as improvised explosives, igniting them and rolling them toward Freeman. It is advisable to shoot them while they are still rotating to prevent them from reaching the player.
- Also, in the Canals, officers tend to throw themselves in the path of the Airboat or stand on wooden structures. Officers act in a similar way to the Overwatch Soldiers with the Buggy in the Coast levels. Ramming either the officers or the wooden structures upon which they are standing can produce more effective results than simply shooting them.
- Since officers don't perform melee attacks with their weapons, it can be very effective to close in on officers with an MP7 if the enemy has an MP7, this tactic rendering it more or less moot.
- Civil Protection officers fire their MP7s from their hip, resulting in poor accuracy.
- One effective method of conserving ammunition and taking minimal damage is to wait until an officer deploys a Manhack or fires a Flare. They cannot attack for the duration of this action, making them easier to engage in close combat or sprint past. If they deploy a Manhack, it is possible to use the Gravity Gun to fire it back.
Behind the scenes
- Originally, the Civil Protection officers were to be named "Metropolice", a name that survived in the Civil Protection entity, "npc_metropolice". Many Metropolice posters were to be seen around City 17, but were removed when the development team thought that the Combine did not need to rely on subtle messages to achieve their goals. Three posters, designed by Randy Lundeen, are known of: one involves the Consul, an early Citadel, early Civil Protection officers (such as Combine Guards), and the slogan "It's great to be part of the greater good." Two other posters, again including Combine Guards, bear the ironic slogan "They're here for you." Some of these posters are featured in WC mappack maps, when propaganda was still an important storyline tool for the team.
- The term "Civil Protection" could be seen as "doublethink" (a term from George Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which shares other similarities with the Half-Life 2 universe), or the ability to accept and believe two mutually contradictory beliefs at the same time, which becomes apparent fairly quickly due to the way they treat Citizens. Civil Protection could be read as a protection of the state from the Citizens, instead of protecting the Citizens themselves. The early slogan "They're here for you" is in that vein, the "for you" being ambiguous in the Civil Protection role towards the Citizens, being at the same time "for" and "against" them.
- Metrocops were originally to have other colors on their uniforms, such as red or yellow. One version also depicts their visors with bright blue lenses, hinting that they might have had some form of night vision.
- In the playable Half-Life 2 Beta files, several early Metrocop sounds can be found, with the prefixes "mc1ans" and "mc1que". They mostly consist of chat between at least two different idle cops (as there are two different voices). Sometimes a bit hard to make out, these sounds include phrases like "You're in a helluva mood", "Watch your mouth", "You expect me to believe that?", "Yep, this was definitely the best career choice I ever made", "I'm feeling pretty good about myself, ok?", "I wouldn't have kids even if they let me", "Supposedly we're getting a raise next week", "Your wife doesn't like me, does she?", among others.
- In the playable Half-Life 2 Beta, setting Metrocops on fire causes them to start screaming. Although they flail when ignited in the retail game, they do not scream.
- A Civil Protection headquarters building was originally to be seen near the Manhack Arcade, with above it the sign "C17 MP", or "City 17 Metropolice", in the WC mappack map "
c17_04" and its variants. In Raising the Bar, it is nicknamed "Cop Station", and was to be seen after and not before Kleiner's Lab.
- Civil Protection units were originally to stand near Doors, Guard Towers, hanging cabins used either to operate gates or guard an area. They were also to use early Combine Watchtowers near Sensor Gates, another cut Combine device.
- According to Valve's animator Doug Wood, the Metro Cop went through several sets of animations during its development. None of them felt right until the team decided to give them a more bullying personality. Wood also put a slight swagger into the CP walk and changed the chest posture to a more leading position to enforce this.
- Originally in the 2003 version of Half-Life 2 the Metropolice were to use Resistance RPGs. The rocket does the same damage as it does when used by any other NPC and they were to use it when in watchtowers. It was cut for an unknown reason, though it might have been due to it being too overpowered.
Elite Metro Cop
Just like the Overwatch Soldier has the Overwatch Elite, Civil Protection was to have its own elite version, the Elite Metro Cop. Intended to be a Civil Protection team leader, its model is mostly the same as the standard model, but with a different helmet. Other differences include a red patch on the chest, red shoulder pads, grey trousers, and a slightly different colored armband. It cannot be found in the leaked files.
|Hit the trashcan cop with the can.|
|Put the can in the trash.|
- The Half-Life 2 soundtrack track "CP Violation", played during the chapter Route Kanal, refers to the Civil Protection and Gordon running against them to Black Mesa East. One of the most fast-paced tracks of the soundtrack, it also has a shorter remixed version. CP Violation is also a concept in theoretical physics.
- Civil Protection units appear to lack animations for many weapons. If given a weapon such as the OSIPR, they will do a reference pose and the gun will shoot 2-3 round bursts at the ground repeatedly.
- Some of the codes used by Civil Protection officers are also California penal codes. An example of this is code 603, which is used to refer to unlawful entry.
List of appearances
- Half-Life 2 (First appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
- Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode One
- Half-Life: Alyx
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