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Combine Prisoner Pod

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Combine Prisoner Pod
General information



Portable prisoner pod

Used by
Game information

The Combine Prisoner Pod,[5] also known as the Prisoner Pod,[5] Combine Cell,[5] or Combine Iron Maiden,[6] is a device used by the Combine to contain prisoners (oftentimes Citizens or Refugees), and Stalkers.


Alyx explaining to Eli in his Prisoner Pod in the Depot's interrogation room how they are going to rescue him.
Pods in the Citadel.
  • The Prisoner Pod consists of two main components: a casket/iron maiden-like external shell which opens in two vertical halves, and can be attached to a conveyor rail or a wall (provided there is a mechanism on the wall which can mount the casket); and a straitjacket-like frame that holds the prisoner in place during storage and transportation. The straitjacket is usually placed inside the casket for storage and transportation along railings. The straitjacket alone is sometimes used for transportation, allowing the prisoner to have visibility during their journey, but a closed casket with the straitjacket locked inside is the most common incarnation of the Prisoner Pod. The Pods are usually controlled automatically or remotely and can be attached or detached to walls through their arm, which can move the Pod onto a fixed conveyor rail, allowing it to travel through the facility it is stored in.
  • When Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance infiltrated the Depot and searched the Prisoner Pods to find Eli Vance in Half-Life 2’s ninth chapter Nova Prospekt / Entanglement, they found many unconscious prisoners in other Prisoner Pods, suggesting that the Pods have some means of rendering their prisoners unconscious or in stasis. Eli Vance himself was unconscious, but he almost immediately returned to life once the casket opened, suggesting that the Pods use air deprivation to pacify prisoners.
  • Prisoner Pod straitjackets can be sterilized through a large device (similar to the one used in the Confiscation Field, although this device uses two of the Confiscation Field's emitters), which will "spray liquid-hot metal"[6] into it. During the process, the double device will form a Force Field around the Pod. This instantly kills any living being contained in the Pod at that time.
  • Pods sometimes go through two simple Combine Power Generators connected with a red laser that acts as a detector for Pod contents. When the Pod contents appear to be irregular, a buzzer goes off and the Pod is photographed by a Combine Camera for analysis. The Pod will then change its course, and the irregular passenger will be taken care of at a different location.
  • The Prisoner Pods represent an important element of any Combine facility meant to house prisoners or Stalkers, since they are the primary means of captive transportation for both possible detainee types. Razor Trains often carry Pods as cargo, and both the Nova Prospekt Depot and the Citadel have extensive railway systems meant to transport and store the Pods. In the Citadel, even Dr. Breen's office is connected to this system, allowing him to summon prisoners at will, as seen during Half-Life 2’s thirteenth chapter Dark Energy when the captured Gordon, Alyx, and Eli are brought up to him.
  • As seen in the Depot, Prisoner Pods can be selected and brought to an interrogation chamber, where the prisoner can be interrogated from behind a glass, without leaving their Pod (although the casket shell must be opened in the process). Prisoner Pods are controlled through Combine interfaces on the left of the glass, while information about the prisoner's health state is shown on two transparent green screens on the right. This is in such a room that Alyx is able to explain her prisoner father how they are going to rescue him.
  • Straitjacket Pods can also be forced open by other devices, such as Alyx's EMP Tool.
  • Gordon's journey through the Citadel in a Prisoner Pod during Half-Life 2’s twelfth chapter, Our Benefactors, is similar to Half-Life’s first chapter, Black Mesa Inbound, in which the player is able to observe the facility he is in, from a rail-mounted vehicle.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Concept art for Prisoner Pods in the Depot, based on a Citadel map.
  • The Prisoner Pod went through several iterations:
  • At the time of Half-Life 2’s development, when the Combine only recycled Earth materials, and the interior of the Citadel was covered in tiles, the Pod was the brush of a large container made of grey metal on the outside, and of yellow metal on the inside, as seen in the WC map pack map demo_citadel01, last edited in 2001. It was to have a double door on both sides, with a small barred window on both sides as well, or simply bars instead of the double door. The Pods moved using rails, and were placed in allocated spaces inside the walls, using cranes. The prisoner was apparently able to move freely inside, and have some free room for themselves, more close to a traditional "cell" design, as well as that of an industrial cargo container. The missing model found in the Borealis map d3_borealis_01_017, "combine_cage001c.mdl", is probably a model version of that variant. A "freezer" variant is also found on the Borealis, there used to contain Combine Assassins, and with a window instead of the double door with a barred window / bars.
  • As seen in Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, the next known design, still used in the tiled Citadel and the Depot, has a design closer to the final overall Combine designs. It is more similar to the retail Pod, but still has bars and is still encased in the tiled walls, with a metallic structure around it. It is also still moved by cranes, but the prisoner has less room to move.
  • The third known design is the model featured in Half-Life 2 leak files, with a design even closer to the final overall Combine designs. Consisting only of the casket part, it is opened on each side except the left and right sides, and has no animation. In can be found for instance in the Borealis map d3_borealis_01_017, where the Combine cage model is also found.
  • The fourth known design is the one appearing in Half-Life 2, introduced in Nova Prospekt. A pod in which the prisoner is kept restrained, it is attached to walls with an arm which can move it to a fixed rail allowing it to travel in the facility it is stored in.
  • The fifth design appears in Episode One, and is used for the train transport of Stalkers. Upon leaving the Citadel, Gordon and Alyx board a Stalker train that crashes in the City 17 Underground. Following the crash, Alyx is trapped under a Pod, with its Stalker occupant trying to break loose from the Pod. Panicked, she is promptly set free by Gordon's Gravity Gun.
  • In-game, the Prisoner Pod acts as a sort of vehicle, and is to be entered using the Use key. However, the player cannot control the Pod's movement, and can only look around, although their perspective is limited. The file prisoner_pod.cfg gives the following description of the Prisoner Pod: A combine prisoner pod. Used in the Citadel sequence in which the player is taken captive, this vehicle is intended to be attached to a path follower (such as a func_tracktrain) via a hinge constraint. A vehicle was used so that we could do the enter/exit animations, and any view dampening or constraints that were necessary. Since the player is a captive they cannot affect the motion of the pod, they can only look around.
  • The Vorti-Cell was to be a more utilitarian confinement cell, intended for Vortigaunts only, but was eventually cut from the game.


Half-Life 2[edit]



Half-Life 2: Episode One[edit]

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]