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General information

City 17


Combine occupation

Game information
  • proto_skyscraper
  • maps starting with vert
  • maps starting with d4_palace
  • sky_walk
  • city
  • d4_streetwar_01
  • scraper_base[1]
"What are the odds two people survive this crash?"
Overwatch Soldier[src][listen]

The Skyscraper,[1][2] also known as Vertigo[1] or Palace,[1] is the generic name of a City 17 location and chapter cut from Half-Life 2 and an informal predecessor for the Overwatch Nexus. Being the first location of the fourth day, it was to be set after the Weather Control chapter, and to be the first chapter of the street wars. According to the dates of the maps and the related sound files, it was worked on from around November 2000 to February 2002.[1][2]


[edit] Overview

After the Weather Control battle,[2] Gordon and Alyx were to go back to City 17 with a C-130[2][3] and head for the Citadel, but the plane was to crash at the top of a very high skyscraper, originally housing a museum and a hotel/palace, after being damaged by Hunter-Choppers. The crash was to cause Alyx to be hurt and kidnapped by the Combine, and Gordon to have to find her father, Captain Vance, in an emergency bunker near the inner gates. Alyx sound files (two versions of the lines made by temporary actresses) found in the Half-Life 2 leak files and created late 2000 indicate that Alyx cannot move and tells Gordon to find an "emergency bunker near the inner gates" where her father is "in command".[1][4] It seems that Vance was to get back to City 17 by other means or with another chopper/C-130 than Gordon and Alyx's one, since he is already there and busy in his headquarters when they crash.

Gordon was then to go through the whole building from its top to its street level, while fighting Combine forces and Headcrabs (see below for a detailed list of enemies encountered). Then, after leaving the Skyscraper, he was to join the war on the streets by the rooftops of the surrounding buildings, to eventually reach ground level.[1][4]

Further sound files, created in November 2000, indicate that after Alyx's speech to Gordon and her being taken away, the player was to hear an Overwatch Soldier squad being deployed in the area, talking through radios with normal human voices. A leader was to order two of the Overwatch Soldiers to search the building's upper decks and work their way down to the lower floors. During their search of the several floors they were to discuss Alyx talking to someone below before being taken away, her and Gordon crashing with "Rebel chopper" (instead of the earlier C-130), the possibility of finding Rebel weapons in the building (reportedly used as a cache by the Underground, and with an indirect reference to the Brickbat) or in the crashed chopper, and possibly keep them to themselves despite the weapon being forbidden contraband. While talking, they were to be interrupted by a noise supposedly made by Gordon, then look for a way to reach the location of the noise, then blow rubble barring their way with explosives. Right after that, it seems they were to find themselves facing Gordon.[4]

While the two Combine units are clearly identified as Overwatch Soldiers through their dialogue sounds named "#sky_sol#", for "skyscraper" and "soldier", and the presence of two OICW-wielding Overwatch Soldiers in the atrium in the map "vert_03_010", in the conversation they suggest they use Stunsticks and one of them states their nervous system is unmodified, restricting them access to more complex Combine weapons, which would rather refer to Metrocops.

[edit] Versions

The building comes in two versions, almost totally unrelated to each other: "Vertigo", last edited in October 2001, and "Palace", last edited in February 2002.[1]

[edit] Vertigo

The first version is an Art Deco-style American building with brick, stone and concrete, reminiscent of the Empire State Building, City 17 having at American look at this time of the game's development. It contains a large atrium with a pound, but no museum. There the player was to be attacked by humanoid Combine units, Headcrabs and Zombies. It is the most complete version, the next chapter starting at the foot of the building on the rooftops of the nearby smaller buildings. This latter part was also to contain Shuttles (flying APCs) flying above the battle, and Merkavas.[1]

[edit] Gallery

[edit] Screenshots
[edit] Models

[edit] Palace

The second version, much more incomplete (although more detailed), is a rather Stalinist-style building, made mostly of stone instead of brick, as well as plaster and wooden wainscots inside, a style more similar to the Eastern European City 17 design seen in the final game. In there can be found a museum, featuring pedestals with vases and Breen busts, showcases containing vases, a Vortigaunt, as well as two Citizens and Cohrt, most likely serving as placeholders. An Ichthyosaur is also hanged to the ceiling, and the horse bronze statue from the final game and and the E3 2002 demo "Terminal" can also be found. The player was to be attacked by Overwatch Soldiers, a Headcrab, a Combine Assassin and a Mortar Synth. A Gunship was also to fly around the building, firing at the player. It seems that the development team wanted to remake the skyscraper from scratch with the new style they settled on, removing the battle on the rooftops below (since it belongs the the older City 17 style), but the chapter was dropped before any link to the streets was made, although what seems to be the first street war map, "d4_streetwar_01", last edited September 2002, features the building at an incomplete stage, with streets and houses at its foot. In the WC mappack, final names for the game's last part tend to start with "d4_", while in the final version it stops at "d3_", since the number of days covered by the game was reduced from four to three (disregarding the week spent between the two portals by Gordon and Alyx).[1]

[edit] Possible inspiration

The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.

Palace is likely based on an actual skyscraper, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, although its adornments were heavily simplified and the clock removed. It currently serves as an exhibition center and office complex, much like the Half-Life 2 building originally did in the storyline.

The Palace of Culture and Science is a controversial Stalinist tower completed in 1955, the tallest building in Poland and in the European Union. The most famous Stalinist towers are the Seven Sisters buildings in Moscow; they include the headquarters of the former Soviet Ministry of Heavy Industry, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Hotel Ukraina or the Hotel Leningradskaya, among others.

The Consul statue might be inspired by that of Lenin that was to stand above the never completed supertall skyscraper Palace of Soviets in Moscow, another Stalinist tower.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] Screenshots
[edit] Models
[edit] Palace of Culture and Science

[edit] Fate

  • Since these levels are visited shortly after the beginning of the uprising sparked in the Air Exchange, it is logical that the city is still in good condition. This was changed in the final Half-Life 2 storyline, where Gordon and Alyx are stuck for one week during the teleportation.
  • The high tower concept became redundant with the Air Exchange and was therefore also recycled in the Citadel levels.
  • The concept of the Skyscraper being a museum was reused for the Overwatch Nexus, as said by Barney in Half-Life 2: "There's an old building up ahead, a bank or museum or something like that."
  • The bronze horse statue can still be found at the end of the chapter "Follow Freeman!". It was also originally featured in WC mappack maps such as "e3_terminal" and "c17_assault2".

[edit] Trivia

  • Vertigo contains several burned corridors that were reused in some Combine Factories maps.
  • The building where the player starts the E3 map "e3_strider" is actually a partial floor from Palace.

[edit] List of appearances

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Half-Life 2 original storyline Succeeded by
Vance Headquarters
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