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The Muscle Car is an invaluable vehicle in the Resistance arsenal. It is used to transport Resistance members from outpost to outpost. Unlike the Scout Car, the Muscle Car has two seats, for a driver and a single passenger. They are similar, however, in that they're both equipped with a turbo boost. The Muscle Car's boost is not as fast as the Scout Car's boost was, making it much more controllable. Due of this, it has shorter cool-down time than the Scout Car, so the Muscle car is more suitable for fast driving, even off-road, compared to the Scout Car. It is wider and harder to flip, which is a time gain. When making sharp turns, the Muscle Car tends to skid. This happens especially on grass or dirt. The Muscle Car appears to be a stripped down and extensively modified 2nd generation 1969 Dodge Charger, due to its flat tail lights, split-grille, and coke-bottle rear quarter design.
The Muscle Car can be used to run over Zombies as well as Hunters and other enemies, and break through barricades. While riding in it, Alyx helps Gordon by using her gun to shoot down any enemies. She also seems to take aim more and make more accurate shots.
Unlike the Half-Life 2 chapters featuring the Scout Car, there aren't many long jumps that need to be made but it can be helpful to use the turbo boost to try and stay ahead of the Hunter-Chopper, win the race to White Forest against DOG, or during the final battle to get ahead of Striders or ram Hunters (though they often jump out of the way).
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance retrieve the Muscle Car from an abandoned and recently raided Resistance outpost overlooking a bridge, on the edge of the Victory Mine area. They find the Muscle Car, seemingly intact, on the far side of the bridge which is not directly accessible. Gordon makes his way through the Zombie-infested outpost to retrieve it. The Muscle Car is used until Gordon and Alyx make it to White Forest, picking up a radar module from a still occupied Resistance outpost along the way. At White Forest, MIRT makes several changes to it before Gordon uses it against the Combine while defending Magnusson's rocket.
The Episode Two car was originally a Volkswagen Beetle, named "Jalopy". As stated by Valve's David Speyrer, that name says something about how uncool it was. Early feedback was that it seemed too similar to the Half-Life 2Scout Car. The team decided to redesign it so that players would feel excited rather than disappointed when they saw the car. Alyx's original line when she first saw the Jalopy echoed the feelings of many early viewers: "What a wreck! Forget about White Forest... we'll be lucky if we make it to the end of the block.".
When developers decided on relying on the car to get to white forest, they had to figure out how to get Alyx into the vehicle. They had to figure out ways on how to move her without ruining her believability as an NPC. Most games usually teleport their NPCs into hard-to-reach places. They also had to make Alyx's behavior while the player is driving the vehicle as convincing as possible. For example; when the car hits a wall, she shouts and jolts.
According to Jon Huisingh, the team wanted players to use the Muscle Car as much as possible during the final Strider battle, both to move around the valley quickly and to run over Hunters as a quick and satisfying way of killing them. To encourage this, and to help with orientation problems, the team added a radar to the car which indicated the location of enemies. This made the car a more valuable tool in the battle and solved the navigation problem once and for all.
According to Ido Magal, one problem the team faced in the Strider battle map was that players would abandon their car in the heat of battle and were not be able to find it later. Given the time pressure and large scale of the map, some of these players could not succeed in protecting the base on foot. To address this they started by adding flashing hazard lights to the car, which helped when the car was in view, but they still saw players lose the car among the trees or behind hills. Eventually they added a vehicle locator to the HEV Suit so that players could find the car wherever it was.
Concept art indicates the car went through at least three other body designs (such as a body from a 1970 pontiac GTO) and color iterations, such as blue, orange and green.
The Muscle car is one of the most difficult parts of Half-Life as to get the Little Rocket Man achievement the player must drive slowly and carefully to keep the Garden Gnome in the car, while under constant fire from the Hunter-Chopper. This part has become a big challenge for Half-Life players to accomplish. A common tactic used by players is to shoot the Gnome a distance using the Gravity Gun, then drive up to it and repeat the process. This method is mostly used during the initial stages of the car drive where the road twists and turns frequently. During the section with the Hunter-Chopper, players sit in their car during the Hunter-Chopper's firing sequence, and get out while it recharges.
The script file for the Muscle Car, named "jalopy.txt", starts with the sentence "This is an amazing American muscle car that must be experienced."
The sound used for the car when it stops, "jnk_stop1.wav", can also be heard in several films such as Apollo 13 or No Country For Old Men (near the end). The Half-Life series uses many stock sounds heard in many other video games and films.
If the car is lost, a black screen will appear, saying "The Freeman has failed to preserve natural resources. A glimpse of doom clouds the Vortessence."
An alternative method of getting the Little Rocket Man achievement would be to walk or hike through most of the Outlands on the way to White Forest, while carrying the gnome, although Alyx may advise against it. The Muscle Car is not actually needed except for one part in Riding Shotgun where the player and Alyx must flee from the attacking Hunter Chopper. Then, after Gordon disables the Autogun at the start of the Chapter Under the Radar, the Muscle Car is only needed to drive across a section of radioactive sludge. Once the tunnel to the next section is reached, Gordon and Alyx can hike all the way to the last section before the next chapter, where Alyx and Gordon reach the second stream. Here, DOG defeats a Strider with his bare hands. After this is done, Gordon is required to use the car to drive him and Alyx to the White Forest base or he will not be granted access-The sentries will simply greet Gordon without opening the gate.
The Muscle Car is powered by a carbureted, large-displacement V8, reminiscent of the classic 'American Muscle Car'. However, engine statistics and output power are unknown. It is possible, due to the car being modeled on the Dodge Charger, that it could be powered by either a 383 or 440 Chrysler V8. Thus having similar statistics.
When used in Garry's mod. Alyx will refuse to enter the Muscle Car by default due to lacking Episode Two code.