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Combine Advisor

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HLA Advisor.png
Combine Advisor
General information



Overlord, Synth[1]

Individual information


  • Telekinesis
  • Telepathy
  • Tendril
  • Mechanical arms
Game information
  • generic_actor (HL2, Ep1 and HL:A)
  • npc_advisor (Ep2)

Ted Backman[2]

Combine Advisors, sometimes simply known as "Advisors" by the Resistance, "Shu'ulathoi" by the Vortigaunts, and Overseers,[1] are the command-units behind the Combine occupation of Earth. Advisors are Synths,[1] being heavily modified with technology.


The Advisor seen being spoken to by the Scientist.

The Advisors are large, pale, grub-like creatures with no discernible facial features, save a gas mask-like device attached to their front end as well as a cybernetic eyepiece on the left-hand side of the faceplate. Advisors possess a long, prehensile tendril that protrudes from their front which they use to kill creatures by driving it straight through the skull as demonstrated on Eli and a dead Rebel in Episode Two. Using it, they are able to extract information from the minds of their prey, "courtesy of a brain-stem savaging" said to be "too disgusting to contemplate."[1]

Each Advisor wears a skintight olive-green body suit that covers all but both ends of their bodies, with a collar around their "necks" adorned with golden symbols, the meaning of which is unknown. These golden symbols are absent on the Half-Life: Alyx Advisors. Some Advisors also have a pair of spindly black robotic arms strapped to their back that is capable of grabbing and lifting an adult human. In Episode Two, Advisors are seen grabbing humans, both living and dead, and plunging the proboscis deep into the back of their necks.

Combine Advisors have a wide range of odd vocalizations, from robotic growls and groans, to loud shouting noises and screeching. Besides their technological prowess, the Advisors also possess incredible psychic powers.

As stated by Ted Backman, Combine Advisors were once a race not unlike humans. Over time, they began to use technology to improve their quality of life. Eventually, however, they became completely reliant on this technology and evolved into their current 'grub-like' form.[2]

Advisor rule[edit]

Breen bargaining with an Advisor in the Citadel.

Under normal circumstances, the Advisors appear content to live in artificial seclusion. During the Combine control of Earth, a number of them lived within the City 17 Citadel and ruled the planet through the medium of Dr. Breen, who was more or less their puppet. They subsisted in pods during this time, reliant on life support systems for survival. None of the citizens of City 17 or even the Resistance seem to have been aware of their existence; the outward face of the Combine on Earth was Dr. Breen and his transhuman minions, and the Advisors seemed happy to retain this facade.

During the events of Half-Life 2, it becomes obvious through the increasingly panicked Breencasts that the Advisors have grown to suspect both Dr. Breen's motives and his usefulness to them. One is shown communicating telepathically with Breen as he pleads and bargains for rescue. With the apparent death of Breen, the Advisors seem to have taken control of the Combine on Earth directly. In Episode One, they are shown preparing to evacuate themselves from the damaged Citadel while their soldiers and other minions are ordered to push the Citadel's dark fusion reactor into a meltdown state, in order to send a portal transmission to the Combine Overworld. This indicates that they are of a high position in the known Combine hierarchy, as their minions have no chance to evacuate once the reactor begins to detonate, whilst their escape pods ensure they can flee to a safe distance, outside the city limits.

In Half-Life: Alyx, it is revealed that the Razor Train that was transporting Eli Vance to Nova Prospekt also carried Advisors, which indicates that they were present on Earth well before Gordon Freeman's return.


The Advisor's tendril appendage which is used to burrow deep into the victim's skull during a process that kills the victim.

Following their escape from the Citadel, the Advisors seem to have gradually abandoned their life support systems; they have, in the words of the Vortigaunts, begun to "hatch", implying that the Advisors are undergoing some sort of metamorphosis, or perhaps the Vortigaunts are simply poetically describing their abandonment of the comfort of life support. The Advisors in Episode Two do seem to cope with living outside of life support. During Episode Two, Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance shut off the life support systems of one, but it is evidently too late to kill the Advisor they are attached to. During the events of Episodes One and Two, they are shown to have a keen interest in Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance, frequently appearing on screens and in the open, monitoring their progress and dispatching Combine Soldiers to apprehend them. This is probably due to the fact that they are carrying a data packet containing Judith Mossman's transmission from the Borealis and, more importantly, the contact code for the Combine Overworld.


Combine Advisors possess considerable telepathic and telekinetic abilities. They are able to communicate telepathically with Dr. Breen, as demonstrated near the end of Half-Life 2, and launch psychic attacks to ward off unwanted attention. Such attacks take the form of mostly harmless visions which warp the perceptions of those affected and also appear to cause severe headaches.

Advisors also possess telekinetic abilities, allowing them to manipulate multiple objects with considerable force. They can completely immobilize several adult humans, crush a metal barrel, fracture a human skeleton with ease, and pull wooden planks off of buildings to use as protection. They presumably also levitate themselves with telekinesis. When they take to the air, loose dust and debris can be seen whirling around them, possibly as a side-effect of the force that levitates them, though this was only added as a method to prevent the player from firing upon them. Though they are able to concentrate on multiple independent objects, they cannot maintain their abilities under immense pain.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Unused particle system for the Advisor's "psychic shield" found in the Episode Two game files.
  • Alternate skin variants can be found in the Half-Life 2 leak files. They include yellowing tones, red, blue or green.[3] The Half-Life 2 model is almost identical to the leak version, save from an alternate camera texture and a different blue tone on the balls located on top of its body.
  • When viewing earlier versions of the Advisor in the model viewer, they appear to have another attack which uses their mechanical arms. There seems to be a small amount of this at the end of Episode Two when they confront Eli Vance.
  • The shaft seen in the Citadel in Episode One where the Advisor leaves is one of the oldest concepts created for Half-Life 2. An early WC map pack map (proto_citadel_advisor, last edited on October 12, 2001) features a prototype version of it.[4]
  • In the final map in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, if the player uses noclip, they can fly behind the hangar. There are two idle advisors here. They can be damaged with weapons, causing them to play a sound (actually the Gunship's pain sound) and a flinching animation. If they are killed, the ending cutscene will be broken. This shows that Valve has already scripted the Advisor, possibly to be used in Half-Life 2: Episode Three. Another hint is the console command sk_advisor_health 1000.
  • An unused particle system "advisor_psychic_shield", found within the Episode Two game files, suggests that Advisors were to be seen using some kind of an energy shield.
  • A juvenile version of the Advisor was designed for Episode Two but cut from the final game. Its texture remained in the game files, and the model was leaked in 2022.
  • In an unused line of dialogue during the barn scene, Alyx compared the hatched Advisor to "a fish out of water" and that it "must have gone for its space suit... earthsuit... whatever"[5], possibly meant for the aforementioned juvenile model while it was still planned to be used.
  • Commentary from the first Advisor encounter in Episode Two as well as Episode Three concept art suggest that the Advisors were at one point going to return in Episode Three, around the Borealis and on Xen.
  • The model preview image of the Advisor shipped with Episode Two contains a hidden face in the background, only becoming clearly visible once the picture is greatly increased in brightness and contrast. When Valve was questioned about this, David Speyrer replied saying that the face "is one of the great mysteries of the Half-Life universe."[6] Ted Backman jokingly followed this up by remarking that the image is the result of an encounter with an Advisor, creating "a bewildering array of images, memory and strange foreign thought" in supposed survivors.[7]

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tension, apprehension and dissension have begun.[8]


Main article: BreenGrub

"BreenGrub" is the name of a Twitter account created by Half-Life series writer Marc Laidlaw that was used to tell a "fanfic"[9] story based on Dr. Breen that followed the events of Half-Life 2. The story describes that the Combine's host bodies, one of which a previously stored consciousness of Breen's has been imprinted into, are actually the larval stage or "grub" of an Advisor. The account then goes into detail summarizing the history of the Advisor's race, revealing that they're also subjugated prisoners of the Combine. Although it has yet to appear in any canonical Half-Life title, the term "BreenGrub" and its associated concepts have since been widely adopted by the community.


Half-Life 2[edit]



Half-Life 2: Episode One[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

Concept art[edit]



Half-Life 2: Episode Three[edit]

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]



Combine Advisor
Combine OverWiki has more images related to Combine Advisor.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Orange Box Prima Guide, page 38
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 83
  3. Half-Life 2 leak
  4. WC map pack
  5. Episode Two's subtitles, ep_02.al_barn_fishout01-04
  6. Who is this man? on Facepunch (October 30, 2007) (archived)
  7. Who is this man? on Facepunch (November 1, 2007) (archived)
  8. Combine Advisor source code
  9. Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw goes back to Breen with fanfiction Twitter account on PCGamesN (May 22, 2013)