The Combine Cell, also sometimes referred to as a Prisoner Pod, is a device used to contain human prisoners or humanoid troops/servitors.
When Resistance members and extremely disobedient civilians are arrested and captured, they are placed in Combine Cells and transferred (usually by Razor Train) to Nova Prospekt or another Combine prison facility to be interrogated or turned into a Stalker. The inside of the Combine Cell contains a straitjacket device that holds the prisoner in place during storage and transportation. When Gordon and Alyx infiltrated New Nova Prospekt and began searching the Cells for Eli Vance, they found many unconscious prisoners in other Cells. This would suggest that the Cells have some means of rendering their prisoners comatose.
The Cells are an important factor in any Combine facility, meant to house prisoners or stalkers considering they are the primary form of transportation for both. Razor Trains often carry them as cargo, and both the Nova Prospekt Depot and the Citadel have comprehensive systems of railways for transporting and storing the Cells. In the Citadel, Dr. Breen's office is even connected to this system allowing him to summon prisoners at will, such as what is seen during the Half-Life 2 chapter Dark Energy when the captured Gordon, Alyx, and Eli are brought up to him.
Behind the scenes
- As seen in the WC mappack, the cells were originally different-shaped.
- It appears that the sound they use is that of escalators.
- The file prisoner_pod.cfg states, A combine prisoner pod. Used in the Citadel sequence in which the player is taken captive, this vehicle is intended to be attached to a path follower (such as a func_tracktrain) via a hinge constraint. A vehicle was used so that we could do the enter/exit animations, and any view dampening or constraints that were necessary. Since the player is a captive they cannot affect the motion of the pod, they can only look around.
- When looking through the models of the Combine Pod Cells, cell_array_01_extended has a different shape for the prisoner pods, donning a more longer by length look to the prisoner pod - This model is most likely utilized when the player looks down to the lower levels of the Citadel and seing the pods from a birds-eye view.