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"It used to be a high security prison - it's something much worse than that now."
Alyx Vance[src]

Nova Prospekt is an old run-down prison that was, according to Alyx Vance, transformed into "something much worse" by the Combine. Featured in Half-Life 2, it is played throughout two chapters set between the Coast and the City 17 street battle chapters, Nova Prospekt and Entanglement.

Prior to the Combine occupation, it was a high-security penitentiary; however, it was later acquired and used as a facility to process and detain citizens who were determined to be a threat - so called "anti-citizens." During Half-Life 2, it is used to contain Eli Vance, after he is captured by the Combine during a raid on Black Mesa East. Other people known to be detained include political prisoners, Resistance fighters, and troublesome citizens. The facility is used to process prisoners into Stalkers, Overwatch Soldiers, Synths, etc.


Nova Prospekt is separated into two parts as illustrated respectively in the two chapters of the game titled Nova Prospekt and Entanglement.

The original prison (Nova Prospekt itself)

The old section of the building is riddled with open confinement chambers (useless to the Combine), labeled cell blocks, offices, and large shower and maintenance facilities.

The Combine, while they probably used the old prison prior to the introduction of the newer facilities, appears to have made little use of this particular area as they progressively moved all Combine-related facilities and processes into the new section of the massive complex.

This section exhibits many signs of disrepair and disuse, such as large pools forming in the sub-basements. Some of the less visited corners of the old section even contain vermin such as Barnacles, Headcrabs and Zombies.

These sections of Nova Prospekt are also slowly being absorbed into the new Nova Prospekt by means of Combine technology. It can be noted that large amounts of graffiti are located in these parts of the prison, indicating that humans had still been inside the facility after the Seven Hour War and its abandonment.

The Combine Depot

Main article: Depot

Razor Train and Combine cells in the Depot.

The newer section of Nova Prospekt houses the processing facilities utilized by the Combine to convert prisoners into Stalkers, as well as the developmental technology for the Combine, like teleports, and the machines used to build the Stalkers themselves.

The architecture of this section is an example of Combine land development technology, seen in the final scene of "Nova Prospekt" and in City 17 later in the game. This technology, in its pre-developed stage, is a massive wall of assorted bars, wires, and machinery arranged randomly. The random positioning of any particular part of the structure, working with every other part of the structure each with its own variable function, allows for millions of permutations of arrangements that, according to a specified program, will build into whatever Combine facility it has been told to become.

This mode of automated construction allows for the Combine take-over of any particular area. This development is shown in the final scene of "Nova Prospekt" when the player happens upon an absolutely wrecked part of the old facility bordered on all sides by this wall of random machinery. As the player progresses through this odd valley of destruction, the walls begin to slowly change position eating up more of the old facility and becoming more specific in its arrangement. Shortly after this scene the player enters into the train depot of the newer Nova Prospekt, upon close examination of the wall, it is discovered that the depot has been composed entirely out of the moving machinery seen earlier.

Later in the game startlingly detailed examples of similar Combine architecture are seen in the Overwatch Nexus, and in the Citadel. This technology is also quite similar to Aperture Science Panels in the way that they can both change shape depending on what they are needed for.

Cell blocks

Combine cells in cell block D7.

Nova Prospekt's prison areas are divided into 12 different cell blocks. All other cell blocks are seen as abandoned or in complete disrepair.

Old Nova Prospekt

  • A3 - Highest security cell block, the first visited by Gordon Freeman. Clearly not taken care of, the floors are dirty, cell bars are broken, toilets non-functional, and ceilings appear likely to break apart and collapse at any given moment. A flooded maintenance room needs to be taken to access cell block A5. Cells have small windows in their ceiling.
  • A5 - Larger but infrequently patrolled cell block. It is followed by a large room with turrets.
  • A7 - After the showers comes a larger, very commonly patrolled cell block, where a torture room and a Vortigaunt can be found.
  • B2 - This block cannot be accessed.
  • B4 - Primary prison control cell block (besides New Nova Prospekt/depot cell blocks) where an important battle between Antlions and Nova Prospekt Prison Guards occurs.
  • B7 - Extremely small cell block, annexed to block B4.

New Nova Prospekt

  • C1 - This block does not contain cells but the laundry facilities and the kitchen. After that comes the cafeteria.
  • C2 - This cell block is linked to the cafeteria and cannot be accessed. An Antlion Guard comes from it.
  • C3 - This cell block is linked to the cafeteria and is entirely flattened by Combine mobile walls. After that comes the Depot itself and maintenance areas.
  • D7 - More commonly used control cell block, in which Combine cells are installed. In the control room, Alyx Vance discovers that Judith Mossman betrayed the Resistance. After that comes another flooded maintenance room.
  • D8 - Cell block where a difficult turret standoff is lead by Gordon Freeman against the Nova Prospekt Prison Guards. Combine cells are also installed. After that can be accessed the lower levels of the Depot where the teleporter is located.

The turning point of the Uprising

In Nova Prospekt, it becomes clear to the player that the Combine is not as invincible as once thought. Multiple visual clues suggest that the Combine, with all their technological superiority, were losing ground to the human "infection", even before Gordon arrived, such as:

  • General disrepair
  • Mechanized security (turrets, forcefields, etc.)
  • Headcrab infestation
  • Some evidence of escape (Such as Lambda symbols.)

Nova Prospekt is a turning point in the story. Up until this moment, the Combine forces seemed to be in full control over the situation. They were chasing Gordon, and he was constantly on the run. After the "Nova Prospekt" chapter of the game, this drastically changes. Gordon stops running and engages them in their very base.

As Gordon progresses from the beach to Nova Prospekt proper, radio transmissions can be heard about Gordon wiping out hardpoints, and utilizing "biotics".


Half-Life 2

Nova Prospekt's presence is first seen in the first chapter of the game, shortly after Gordon Freeman arrives in City 17. On his way through the train station, Gordon is restricted by CPs from entering the city, leaving his only route as a gate to a waiting Razor train, labeled "Nova Prospekt". Before he can take this route, however, Barney Calhoun uses his undercover presence within Civil Protection to intervene and smuggle him in, commenting to Isaac Kleiner that "he was about to board the express to Nova Prospekt." Other newly arrived citizens can be seen entering the city through the route Gordon was barred from, suggesting that many citizens are sent directly to Nova Prospekt upon arrival at City 17, rather than living in the city for any amount of time, and that Barney narrowly saved Gordon from this fate.

Nova Prospekt Prison Guards fighting Antlions in the laundry room of block C1.

As mentioned above, the player visits along with a pack of Antlions. The Antlion swarm heading into the complex, goaded by Gordon Freeman, seemed to trigger practically all the Antlions in the area surrounding the complex to help invade. This can be seen in-game by Combine having to fend off endless hordes of Antlions either flying or tunneling into the structure. Even a few of the extremely-tough Antlion Guards appear, smashing through thin walls with impunity and ramming any Combine they find, as well as Gordon himself. Although the Combine Overwatch attempted to defend the older section, they were overpowered by the numbers of Antlions as well as the occasional Antlion Guard and the efforts of Gordon Freeman. The older sections are assumed to be overrun and destroyed by hordes of Antlions as towards the end of the chapter, "Nova Prospekt", the player can hear the P.A. system ordering the soldiers to retreat from the older section.

Although background noises suggest that Antlions are present in some areas, the Combine-occupied newer section remained untouched by the Antlions as witnessed in the chapter Entanglement. Thus, this portion of Nova Prospekt suffered minimal structural damage. This was until Gordon and Alyx used the main Combine teleport located deep within the newer section in an attempt to flee the facility with Eli Vance and Judith Mossman. While the teleportation was successful, the teleporter became unstable during the process and exploded just after the teleportation was complete. It is assumed that the explosion destroyed most or all of the newer sections. The destruction of Nova Prospekt was the event that signaled the beginning of the rebellion and the one-week long urban battle that resulted in the destruction of the Citadel's dark energy reactor.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

While Nova Prospekt is not seen or mentioned in Episode One, during the second half of the chapter Exit 17, one can see a train platform labeled "Nova Prospekt" in a very similar way to the one seen in Half-Life 2's first chapter. However, the player can observe that the platform is largely sealed and littered with empty crates and other useless junk which suggests that the Combine gave-up using Nova Prospekt after the teleporter was used by Alyx and Gordon to escape the complex causing the room (and presumably, the rest of the facility) to explode into a great fireball that nothing could ever hope to survive.

Half-Life: Alyx

When Eli Vance is captured by the Combine, Russell speculates that he will likely be taken to Nova Prospekt for torture and interrogation.

Behind the scenes

Concept art for the Gunship Bays.

  • The design of Nova Prospekt was based on that of an existing prison, the infamous Alcatraz prison, located in the San Francisco Bay.[3]
  • Its name continues with the Eastern European setting in the game. Translations proposed have included new prospectnew perspective, or new hope - it is unclear which language Nova Prospekt is supposed to be in; whereas Nova is a root meaning new in all Slavic languages and other European languages, Prospekt can have meanings ranging from prospectus to view to street depending on the language.
  • Originally, the chapter Nova Prospekt was just the Depot flanked with a smaller prison simply known as the "Gulag" or the "Prison", a simple stopping point in Gordon's path to the cut Air Exchange (where the signal for the uprising was originally to be given from) much like New Little Odessa or Lighthouse Point (the lighthouse originally appearing there), until it became one of the longest chapters of the game. After the AirEx chapter was cut, the uprising trigger was moved to Nova Prospekt. Before getting into the Depot, Gordon was to pass through the "Gunship Bays", where Gunships were built. This area was moved to the Citadel levels, as a more anecdotal location.[1][2]
  • At some point, Gordon was to reach the facility by train. Arrived there, it would derail, Gordon would meet Alyx and Skitch, and they would then be attacked by a Combine Elite.


  • Gordon's attack on Nova Prospekt is similar to the Storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution.
    • Like Nova Prospekt, the Bastille was considered a symbol of oppression among the general population. It's destruction also galvanized the common people into armed revolt.


Concept art




List of appearances


See also