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"Attention ground units. Anticitizen reported in this community. Code: lock, cauterize, stabilize."
―Overwatch Voice[src]

The Overwatch Voice,[1] sometimes simply referred to as Overwatch in-game, is an Artificial Intelligence device with a feminine voice that broadcasts orders to units via their communication radios, as well as via local PA systems. She is tasked with commanding all overwatch forces on the earth, as well as giving orders to Citizens. Her role also offers significant insight into the inner workings of the Combine.


Almost certainly artificial in origin, the voice will usually issue warnings of resistance infiltration or instructions to nearby units in a distinctive flat, clinical tone. Her disjointed speech, similar to that of telephone banking systems, and ability to apparently broadcast to more than one location at once suggests that she is an artificially intelligent computer system.

She also effectively acts as a warning siren to the citizens living under the combine, and is effectively viewed as a harbinger of death as hearing the Overwatch voice on the intercom in your apartment building means an incoming raid and near certain death.

The voice uses a type of medically-inspired Newspeak to describe resistance activity in the context of a bacterial infection and treatment. Some of her announcements also display the coercive and violent tactics used by the Combine to ensure conformity. Parallels can be drawn between the Overwatch Voice and the telescreen news announcer in the 1984 film version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, who serves a similar role and is somewhat similar to the Overwatch Voice in terms of voice. There are also similarities with the MFP dispatcher from the film Mad Max.

Notable encounters[]

  • She announces the threat of "permanent off-world relocation" to various people (usually Overwatch personnel, but this tactic has also been seen being used on citizens) as punishment for either mission failure or not informing on potential "anticitizens." Doctor Breen makes this same threat to Alyx and Eli Vance near the end of Half-Life 2; however, he is kept from delivering on it.
  • It is announced near the beginning of Route Kanal that "inaction is conspiracy," thus encouraging local residents to turn in Gordon Freeman, who is just beginning his insurrection. As proof of this, food credits are deducted from humans as punishment for what is termed "permissive inactive coercion."
  • Freeman is progressively referred to as "staph infection" and "malignant". Instructions are issued to CPs to "inoculate," "shield," "clamp," "contain," and "pacify." His implicit citizenship (he could not be a legitimate citizen, as he has been presumed missing or dead for some time) is revoked due to his "multiple anti-civil violations." In this case, Freeman is addressed as "individual," and as such declared "malignant." When the Overwatch soldiers are introduced and the resistance movement is in full rebellion, she euphemistically orders the soldiers to "treat" and "amputate" rebels.
  • It is announced around half way through Route Kanal that the "judgment waiver" is in effect, stating that "capital prosecution is discretionary," and that sentencing is at their own discretion, effectively allowing Civil Protection officers to deal with humans as they see fit.
  • At Nova Prospekt, turrets are referred to as "sterilizers" in keeping with the medical theme, and Combine attention starts with a focus upon an "exogen breach," presumably the antlions present in the complex, a large portion of whom are under Gordon's control.
  • At the start of Gordon's run-ins with Civil Protection, he is referred to indirectly as a "miscount" when a building he enters is raided and he is not identified as a resident, and, as such, making him a threat ("Attention, residents: miscount detected in your block. Cooperation with your local Civil Protection will result in full ration reward.") Gordon is awarded "Anticitizen" status during the chapter Route Kanal ("Individual, you are charged with multiple anti-civil violations - Anticitizen status approved") and is referred to as "Anticitizen One" by the Overwatch starting roughly around Water Hazard, and retains this designation throughout the rest of Half-Life 2 and Episodes One and Two. As Gordon advances into Nova Prospekt, the Overwatch Voice begins to refer to him alternatively as "Anticitizen Freeman" as well as "Anticitizen One"; however, this change of habit only happens during the course of Nova Prospekt.

Interactions with Combine units[]

Whether or not the transmission is intended for receipt and processing by the Overwatch Voice, Overwatch Soldiers use a code phrase to signal that some force has broken through their guard. The last soldier in the unit will call "Outbreak! Outbreak! Outbreak!" over the radio the moment the second-to-last soldier is killed. They also have notification phrases such as "Overwatch, request reserve activation!" "Overwatch, be advised, we have heavy resistance!" and "target Freeman sighted".

Half-Life 2: Episode One[]

In Episode One, the tone of the Overwatch Voice changes drastically to a malfunctioning state, Combine Advisors appeared to have taken her role and proceeded to command the overwatch forces themselves due to the circumstances. Inside the Citadel, her voice is slowed down, looping, and is generally confused and detached; she issues long strings of nonsensical directives that are clearly being ignored by the soldiers still present, which adds to the feeling that the Citadel's functions are failing. All of her statements, such as "Warning bypass detected" and "Deploy, diagnose, deploy, diagnose, resonant singularity, resonant singularity" are reused from City 17 broadcasts, some Citadel broadcasts, and some are possibly from Nova Prospekt. However, when Freeman goes through a confiscation field beyond a red evacuation room, which supercharges his gravity gun, she does manage to declare an alert, the same as when Gordon falls from a pod into a similar field during Half-Life 2 ("Security alert, unregistered weapons detected; confiscation field engaged. Security alert, counter-resonance singularity device detected. Confiscation field failure, Deploy, diagnose, dissect."). The nonsensical directions continue during and after this event though.

Later on in the course of events when the Citadel destabilizes again, the dispatch for Civil Protection units remains the same as in Half-Life 2 which could mean that Civil Protection has a separate dispatch system, or perhaps the developers did not take into account the malfunctioning state of the Overwatch Voice.

The Overwatch Voice's citywide broadcasts are never encountered again during the course of episode 1, which suggests it is not functional anymore. However, the malfunctioning Overwatch Voice can be heard repeating its unintelligible messages which seem to be coming from the Citadel itself as they are very faint in the distance from the Citadel's general direction.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

In Episode Two the Overwatch Voice is first heard during the chapter To The White Forest, specifically right after Alyx's video conference with her father and Arne Magnusson is disrupted and the signal drops out.

The Overwatch Voice seems much colder and more imposing in Episode Two, speaking in short, fragmented sentences during the few times it is heard, e.g. "Anticitizen One engaged. Vance subprime engaged. Expunge. Mandate removal of active signature imprint. Cauterize and expunge." In Episode 2, its lines are also shown in the subtitles, while it is not in previous episodes. This is not a retcon of Overwatch's voice, as her voice returns to its previous state in Half-Life: Alyx, a later title. This behavior could be attributed to the destruction of the Citadel as the voice functions as a backup version, or alternatively, with the Combine Advisors taking direct control of the Combine forces after Dr. Breen's death, that the Advisors are simply much less subtle in their intentions and the Overwatch reflects this.

Half-Life: Alyx[]

The Overwatch Voice is first heard when meeting Olga during the basement sequence.

Overwatch Voice transcripts[]

City 17[]

Quote Play
"Attention, ground units - anti-citizen reported in this community. Code: lock, cauterize, stabilize."
"You are charged with anti-civil activity level 1. Protection Units: prosecution code: duty, sword, operate."
"Protection team alert: evidence of anti-civil activity in this community: code assemble, clamp, contain."
"Individual, you are charged with capital malcompliance. Anti-citizen status approved."
"Individual, you are now charged with Socio-Endangerment, level 5. Cease evasion immediately, receive your verdict."
"Individual, you are convicted of multi-anti-civil violations. Implicit citizenship revoked, status: malignant."
"Attention, please: unidentified person of interest - confirm your civil status with local protection team immediately."
"Attention, please: Evasion behavior consistent with mal-compliant defendant. Ground Protection Team: alert, code: isolate, expose, administer."
"Citizen reminder: inaction is conspiracy. Report counter-behavior to a Civil Protection team immediately."
"Alert: Community Ground Protection units: Local unrest structure detected. Assemble, administer, pacify."
"Attention Protection Team: status evasion in progress in this community. Respond, isolate, inquire."
"Attention all Ground Protection Teams: Autonomous judgment is now in effect. Sentencing is now discretionary. Code: amputate, zero, confirm."
"Attention all Ground Protection teams: Judgement waiver now in effect. Capital prosecution is discretionary."
"Attention occupants: your block is now charged with permissive inactive coercion. 5 ration units deducted."
"Individual: you are charged with Socio-endangerment, level 1. Protection Units: prosecution code: duty, sword, midnight."
"Citizen notice: priority identification check in progress. Please assemble in your designated inspection positions."
"Attention please: All citizens in local residential block, assume your inspection positions."
"Attention residents: miscount detected in your block. Cooperation with your Civil Protection team permits full ration reward."
"Attention residents: This block contains potential civil infection. Inform, cooperate, assemble."
"Citizen notice: Failure to cooperate will result in permanent off-world relocation."
"Attention community: unrest procedure code is now in effect. Inoculate, shield, pacify. Code: pressure, sword, sterilize."

Nova Prospekt[]

Quote Play
"Overwatch acknowledges critical exogen breach. Airwatch augmentation force dispatched and inbound. Hold for reinforcement."
"Alert. Contact status zero with land-sea intercept teams. Possible Anticitizen One re-infection. All Nova Prospekt stabilization delegates move to hard points."
"Nova Prospekt stabilization force directive Two: Engage reserve, contain exogen incursion."
"Contact lost in block B2. Deploy, reinforce, intercept in central block B4."
"Attention Nova Prospekt internal containment teams. Deservice all political conscripts in block A7. Prohibit external contact."
"Warning. Surveillance and detection systems inactive. Remaining stabilization team members report containment status please."
"Contact has moved to block D8. Warning. Sterilizers and containment fields may be compromised. Airwatch augmentation force six, eight, drop and converge immediately."
"Priority Alert: Nova Prospekt exogen breach. Perimeter communication status zero. Internal stabilization teams deploy sterilizers in suspected infection blocks A5, A7, B2."
"Incursion Warning. Airwatch reports probable Anticitizen Freeman re-acquired zone Nova Prospekt. Ground units deprioritize exogen containment. Hold for override codes."
"Warning. Malignant Viral Interface bypass detected. Polyphasic core reprogramming detected. Sterilizers and containment fields may be compromised."
"Attention ground units. Mission failure will result in permanent offworld assignment. Code reminder: sacrifice, coagulate, clamp".
"Alert. Nonstandard Exogen activity detected. Execute containment procedure and report."
"Priority Warning. Outland stabilization force six Nova Prospekt. Perimeter restrictors disengaged. Priority Warning. Perimeter restrictors disengaged."
"Priority warning: perimeter restrictors disengaged. All stabilization delegates move to incursion hard points immediately."


Quote Play
"Warning: Three minutes to singularity."
"Warning: Two minutes to singularity."
"Warning: One minute to singularity."
"Priority Warning: Forty-five seconds to singularity."
"Priority Warning: Thirty seconds to singularity."
"Priority Warning: Fifteen seconds to singularity."
"Priority Warning: Ten seconds to singularity."
"Security Alert: Unregistered weapons detected. Confiscation field engaged."
"Warning: Counter-resonant singularity device detected. Confiscation field failure."
"Security Alert: Illegal counter-resonant singularity device detected. Deploy, Diagnose, Dissect."
"Attention: Transport singularity interlock sequence engaged."

Half-Life 2: Episode One[]

Quote Play
"Deploy, Diagnose. Deploy, Diagnose. Resonant singularity. Resonant singularity."
"Warning. Bypass detected."
"Security Alert: Unregistered weapons detected. Confiscation field engaged."
"Warning: Counter-resonant singularity device detected. Confiscation field failure."
"Warning. Core reprogramming detected."
"Alert. Alert. Alert."
"Stabilization force disengaged."
"Sterilizers and containment fields compromised."
"Priority alert: Internal stabilization teams, deploy sterilizers. Deploy..."
"Priority warning: Restrictors disengaged."

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[]

Quote Play
"Ongoing sector sweep. Biotics confirmed. Continue surface sector sweep. Remote compliance. Exterminate. Seek passive signature imprint. Mandate sublevel restrictions."
"All autonomous units: Accept mandatory sector assimilation. Coordinated constriction underway. Debride and cauterize. Entering phase nine, enhanced compliance. Deploy advisory control and oversight. Submit and be subsumed."
"Vital alert. Autonomous units subsumed. Mandatory compliance with all tenets of advisorial assistance act. Threat level adjustment. Probe. Expunge."
"Alert. Anticitizen One engaged. Vance subprime engaged. Expunge. Mandate removal of active signature imprint. Cauterize and expunge."

Half-Life: Alyx[]

Quote Play
"Alert ground units, invasive operation of anti-citizen origin. Response code: Engage. Quell. Inquire."
"Ground Protection Team: Alert. Incident response deployment required. Nine-two-one-two."
"Attention please. Access is not permitted. Anti-citizen scavenging will result in immediate capital prosecution."
"Attention please. Access to this block is not permitted. Local security deployed and designated to prosecute."
"Attention please. Access to this block is not permitted. To receive this message is to be in civil code violation."
"Alert ground units. Alert command units. Emergency Code: Void."
"Overwatch acknowledges activity. Confirm sector zero two, possible necrotic interference. Sweep sector, report containment status."
"Security alert. Re-administration in progress. Asset allocation adjustment code: Flint. Inspect. Extirpate. Priority: Immediate."
"Individual, you are now charged with multiple level 5 anti-civil activity violations. Please cooperate with ground protection team. Ground protection team: alert. Code: Engage. Isolate. Neutralize."
"Security alert. Critical civil insurrection. Deploy technical teams to Blocks 49, 64, 77. Maintain priority."
"Security alert. Reminder, ground teams: Mission failure will result in permanent relocation. Response code: Breach. Maneuver. Inoculate."
"Critical breach. Standby. Standby."
"Full system alert. Operation engagement Five-one-two-nine. Immediate, concurrent deployment. Five-one-two-nine."
"Response code: Shield. Key. Migrate."
"Alert. Response team. Overload protocol: Angle. Cauterize. Flash. Angle. Cauterize. Flash."
"Citizen Reminder: A civilized society demands swift and targeted oversight. Prohibit fellow citizens from threatening the community."
"Converge sector station one, weapons free. Target has been designated as primary one objective. Prosecute on sight."
"Overwatch acknowledges containment failure. Hold for reinforcement. Suppressor inbound."
Alert response units, update code: Flush, Escort, Continue.


List of appearances[]


See also[]

External links[]

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