In previous articles, I've covered some of the horrors that arose as a result of alien species mingling with earthlings, such as the zombies and the town of Ravenholm where you first encounter them in abundance. Today we're going to look at another disgusting result of the Combine invasion, which are Stalkers.
Believe it or not, Stalkers were once human beings. Through heavy surgical modifications, they have been transformed into disturbing Combine slaves whose main purpose is to maintain Combine machinery. As you can see, their hands and lower legs have been removed and replaced with some form of multi-use prosthetic tools.
Their internal organs and gender-defining...um....features have also been removed. Whatever form of nutrition the Combine is giving them is obviously not enough, seeing as their skin clings tightly to their skeletons. It appears that their vocal chords have also been messed with, because the only sounds they are capable of making are hisses and growls.
At some point before becoming Stalkers, these people were either resistance members who were captured and sent in to be converted, or they lived in a location such as City 17 and were unknowingly shipped to the processing facility. The processing facility, a level in Half-Life 2 called Nova Prospekt, is a former prison which is now mainly used to create Stalkers and Combine Soldiers (they are heavily modified humans as well).
Although they make only a brief appearance near the end of Half-Life 2, Stalkers are encountered much more frequently in Half-Life 2: Episode One. Here you will cringe in disgust as you see these mutilated beings working frantically to repair the collapsing Citadel in City 17. Also you will be forced into some claustrophobic locations where you're forced to see these monstrosities up close. It is in the Citadel where you discover that the metal plate attached to a Stalker's face contains a functioning laser beam.
|Note the Stalker in the background using his head-mounted laser.|
Attacking any Stalkers or interrupting their repair efforts will cause them to focus those laser beams on you. Thankfully protagonist Gordon Freeman is always armed to the teeth, so these battles aren't too difficult. Also, these former people deserve to be put out of their misery, don't you think?
That concludes our quick look at one of the most unsettling things in Half-Life 2. Seeing a human being who is so disgustingly altered is sure to bring about a shudder now and then. What did you guys think of the Stalkers?