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The Manhack Arcade[2] is a City 17 area cut from Half-Life 2 that was to be visited in the first chapters of the game. It was to be located in a business/entertainment area, between the Trainstation Plaza and Kleiner's Lab.[1][2]


In this entertainment place, the player was to see Citizens playing a video game wherein they control Manhacks flying through the streets and killing fugitive Citizens for points, ignorant of the fact that the Manhacks they are controlling are real, and that people are actually dying as a result.[2]

There Gordon was to meet with Barney, who would tell him to head to the radio tower building, the starting point of the sewers leading to Kleiner's Lab (in the map "subt").[1]


  • The earliest map dates go back to 2001. It seems that the concept was dropped around December 2002.[1]
  • In the maps of the inside, the arcade game is only shown at a prototype stage and does not work. Like in most of the leaked maps, the Citizens are all Citizen Male 01, group 2. Since the NPCs do not have any special properties, they by default are distracted by the player and tend to follow him while they should be concentrated on the game or the queue and mostly ignoring the player.[1]

First version

The first version started as a blocky and empty building, located in map "c17_04_23" (last edited December 2002), which cannot be entered. At the end of the street can be seen the Citadel inner wall, stationed Metrocops and APCs. This map was also partially used for Captain Vance's headquarters, in the map "VanceHQ".[1]

In a more recent map, "c17_05_06" (last edited September 2002), the building facade is remade in displacement s and it can be entered. In it can be seen classic arcade machines from Earth, spread on two levels, and a counter where belongings that will be stored in a locker room can be given to a Citizen. The player was to head upstairs, where Barney was to be found. He was then to tell Gordon to leave the building through a storage room where chairs and other machines can be found and head in the direction of the radio tower. This version of the path between the Arcade and the radio tower was likely to be located in a map possibly named "c17_06", but is missing from the mappack.[1]

The radio tower may be inspired by the three radio towers of Queen Anne in Seattle.

Second version

The second version shows drastic changes; the building facade and inside have been remade from scratch. As seen in "c17_04_38", "c17_04" is split, heavily enlarged and now features a Breencast device, a Metropolice station and an expanded area leading to another Manhack Arcade building. A plaza with a column is added, column that will be reused in the latest version of "e3_terminal". It will be doubled and its top will be replaced by a horse statue, finally to appear at the end of the Half-Life 2 chapter Anticitizicen One. The inside building can be seen in "arcade_04" (last edited December 2002) and "arcade_06" (last edited January 2002). In "arcade_06", the most complete map, Gordon was to go down escalators, follow a corridor and see a small room where Citizens are queuing to play. The corridor going further, he was to meet with Barney in a maintenance area. As in the previous version, Barney was to tell him to proceed through the sewers starting under the radio tower located nearby ("arcade_06" directly precedes "subt"). "arcade_04" is a smaller version which only features the arcade room cited before and another, bigger one, with several levels and a lift.[1] This bigger room is the one featured as concept art in Raising the Bar.

Third version

This third version was to feature the same inside elements as the previous one, only with a different facade. One version can be found in "arcade_04" (last edited December 2002), and its facade, decorated with a star, seems to be based on Macy's facade in Seattle, building also seen in concept art for the Citadel. Viktor Antonov, who made the picture, has been living in Seattle and likely based the building appearance on Macy's facade. (Half-Life 2 being located somewhere in Eastern Europe, it would seem in the first place that the star is related to Russia, while it was just taken from Macy's logo). Antonov being from Sofia, another building found there, the National Palace of Culture, also bears some similarities, although Seattle's Macy's seem to be principal inspiration.

Another version, probably the most recent, can be found in "c17_04_41" (last edited December 2002). Its position is different to the previous version featured in "c17_04_38" and the facade can be seen from the column plaza. It does not feature a star anymore.

Although this version seems to be the third mapped version, it is likely the first version to have been designed.


  • In the novel Ender's Game and the film Toys, a similar idea shows teenagers unknowingly controlling remote-controlled military robots that actually kill in real-life.

List of appearances


See also

Preceded by
Combine Factories
Half-Life 2 original storyline Succeeded by
Kleiner's Lab
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