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"Hmmm. A Combine zombie. That's, that's like a...a.. Zombine! Right? Heh... Zombine, get it? Heh heh. Okay."
Alyx Vance[src]

The Zombine, a portmanteau (coined by Alyx Vance) of Combine and Zombie, is the result of a Standard Headcrab attaching to the head of an Overwatch Soldier.

The appearance of the Zombine is taken as evidence that the Combine were losing control of City 17 following the near-destruction of the Citadel. Prior to the human uprising, there were very few headcrabs in the city, only found in areas that had fallen into disrepair. However, thanks to the prolific use of headcrab shells against rebel safehouses before and during the uprising, headcrabs came to infest large areas of the city, particularly its underground sections. Zombines are first encountered in Half-Life 2: Episode One, when Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance stumble upon a troop train in the severely headcrab infested City 17 underground, in the chapter Lowlife.


Zombines are commonly found alongside other Standard Zombies. Zombines walk slower than the average Zombie; however, they are capable of short sprints which allow them to quickly close in on their enemy.

Like Standard Zombies, Zombines attack with their claws. However, because Overwatch Soldiers are normally equipped with grenades, a Zombine will often take out a live grenade and attempt a kamikaze-style attack on their prey, rushing towards them until the grenade explodes, killing the Zombine and damaging the objective. When Zombines attempt to use their grenade attack, they will start to walk when their grenade is stolen from them.

Ep1 c17 02a zombine

A "sleeping" Zombine in the Hospital.

Zombines also have significantly more health due to the relatively intact body armor retained from the former host, in addition to a Headcrab's ability to give the host body increased damage resistance.

The Zombine's groans are filtered through the soldier's vocoder. This "speech" consists not only of Zombie growls but also Combine Soldier reports, such as "Necrotics inbound" or "Sector is not secure." Zombines may also say things like: "Contact," "Biotic overrun," and "Infestation." Although removal of a Zombine's Headcrab reveals that, aside from the lower jaw and a small lower portion of the skull, there doesn't appear to be a head on the soldier's corpse.


Zombine dark

A Zombine holding a grenade in the dark of the City 17 Underground.

  • The best way to handle a Zombine is to shoot from a distance. The .357 Revolver and the SPAS-12 are the most effective weapons against them. Players should keep in mind that the Revolver's ammo is very scarce and that it reloads somewhat slowly. Also, to use the SPAS-12, one must be fairly close to the Zombine to actually get a good hit. As with all Headcrab zombies, aiming for the head is far more effective than hitting the lower portions of the body.
  • If the Zombine pulls out a grenade, it is best to run back and allow it to explode. However, this may not be the most effective tactic, as they will generally run after the player. Alternatively, taking the grenade with the Gravity Gun and either tossing it back to them or into the distance can be useful in preventing damage.
  • If caught up with multiple Zombie types, the Zombine should be targeted first, due to their ability to run and deal high damage with their grenades. Other zombies can be taken out later, due to their slow hobble (with the exception of the Fast Zombie).
  • If a gas canister or flare is nearby, it is actually a good idea to pick it up and light the Zombine up, as the Zombine on fire cannot pull a grenade out or sprint at the target.
  • A Zombine's grenade can be used to kill multiple targets if they are in a small space or in a cluster.
  • It is possible to shoot the grenade out of the Zombine's hand by aiming at the grenade, however, this may prove to be difficult to perform when the Zombine is up close or sprinting at the player. Weapons with high accuracy such as the AR2 or .357 revolver are the best choice to shoot the grenade out of a Zombine's hand.
  • Zombines can be more of a threat when in larger groups. The most favorable tactic is to keep a good distance from the group and deal with them one at a time.
  • Zombines are much tougher than normal zombies, most likely due to their overwatch soldier armour covered the exposure of the former host chest making them much harder to kill. It's a good idea to use a high fire rate weapon, such as the AR2, or use a high damage weapon such as the crossbow, or .357 Magnum revolver.

Behind the scenes[]

A Zombine texture sheet can be found in the Half-Life 2 files, which might indicate that the Zombine was going to be featured in Half-Life 2, but was cut during development. It is not present in the Half-Life 2 Beta files.

Related achievements[]

Grave Robber
Grave Robber 5 Gscore
Steal a Zombine's grenade.


No headcrab combine soldier

The Zombine without the Headcrab.

  • There is a minor discrepancy between the Zombine's uniform and that of a regular Overwatch Soldier. The arm & leg padding on Overwatch Soldiers is dark gray, whilst the Zombine's padding matches the camouflage on the rest of their uniform. This is because the Zombine were originally intended to be in Half Life 2, using pre-release Overwatch uniform textures as a base before they were cut. There is a mod that fixes this.
  • The Combine Autogun will not target Zombines, even if all other enemies have been killed. This may be due to an error in the Autogun's targeting system, be it on the Combine's programming or the game developers', which renders it unable to distinguish zombified Combine units from living ones.
  • Many of the groans and other noises they emit are modified or reversed versions of regular zombie and soldier sounds.
    • Their footsteps are slowed down versions of the original Overwatch Soldier's footsteps.
    • The screech they sometimes emit when charging at the player is a reversed version of the original zombie's death sound.
    • Their voice lines are slowed down versions of Overwatch Soldier voice lines with some zombie sounds mixed in, as are the death sounds.
    • When speaking you can faintly hear a broken vocoder activate, meaning their artificial larynx is still somewhat present with the headcrab taking control over it.
    • Despite the presence of an apparently functional vocoder, Zombines will not scream when set ablaze.
  • Whilst many Zombine lines from the English version are consistent across localisations, other language versions may differ (e.g. mentioning grenades in the Spanish version).
  • Another interesting fact about the Zombine is that they can be chopped in half whilst the original Combine Soldier cannot.
    • Doing this reveals that the Zombine model lacks a visible spine and internal organs.
  • Although not seen in-game, it is possible that Zombies formed from Civil Protection officers also exist, given that the Combine’s units were confirmed to be depleted following the constant shelling of City 17.


List of appearances[]