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Left: G-Man, as he appears in Half-Life. Right: His appearance in and after Half-Life 2
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The G-Man, voiced by Michael Shapiro, is a mysterious recurring character in the Half-Life series of first-person shooter video games. He is known to display peculiar behavior and capabilities beyond that of a normal human, and his identity and motives remain almost completely unexplained. He plays the role of an overseer and employer, both observing the player as the games progress and pulling strings to control the outcome of specific events throughout the Half-Life saga. He claims to answer to some unseen higher authority which he refers to as simply his 'employers'. The G-Man's constant appearances in the Half-Life games, as well as his revealing monologues to the series protagonist Gordon Freeman, imply he is of great importance and somewhat anchors the endeavors of the player. His mysterious nature has made him an icon of the Half-Life series.
Appearance and behavior
he G-Man's name comes from "G-Man", an American colloquialism meaning "Government Man". However, within the Half-Life games, he is identified by this name only in the program code, not within the story itself; his name is derived from his Half-Life model and entity name and has since been reused in subsequent games of the series. His name has been confirmed and he has been referred to by it in documentaries featuring Valve employees, as well as in the voice actor credits for Half-Life 2 and Raising the Bar.
The G-Man appears to be a middle-aged white male with a tall and thin physique, pale/chalky skin, dark brown hair shaped in a military-style crew cut with a prominent widow's peak, blue-green eyes and usually holding a briefcase. Although not included in the gameplay, on inspection of the model for Half-Life, a pistol as well as a photograph can be found in this briefcase. He is conservative in appearance, dressed in an ordinary gray/blue two-piece business suit. The book Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar states that his appearance in Half-Life 2 is based on the famous Alexander Technique practitioner Frank Sheldon. The G-Man speaks in a slow, raspy yet commanding manner, with a certain accentuated low-key moroseness to his tone, sometimes placing unusual stress on syllables, stressing the wrong parts of words, making unneeded pauses, and awkwardly changing the pitch of his voice, sometimes in the middle of a word. In the end of Half-Life 2 G-Man emphasizes the word "time" repeatedly as well, most likely referring to the fact that moments before he seemingly stopped time. It is common for the G-Man to elongate "S" sounds ("Limitlessss potential").
His odd manner of speaking, bordering on the cryptic, along with his appearance, alludes to the behavior of the Men in Black in various reports, and the apparent age and physical status of the G-Man doesn't seem to change in the time that passes between Half-Life and Half-Life 2 (which, according to the Episode One website, is nearly twenty years).
The G-Man exudes a calm, almost uninterested demeanor – in situations in which other humans panic and flee, the G-Man can be seen calmly straightening his tie or brushing his suit lapels with his hand. When working on the G-Man in Half-Life 2, animator Doug Wood stated, "I wanted the player to never quite know what side the G-Man was on. I would have him express an apologetic look toward Freeman as he 'regretted' to put Dr. Freeman in this situation, but then give a slight smirk or smile at the end to keep you guessing about his sincerity." Before animating the G-Man's facial expressions, Wood spent weeks in front of a mirror practicing the expressions on himself.
The G-Man's name is taken from the character's model (possibly a reference to the slang term G-Man, referring to an agent of the United States Government). The character is also referred to as "Gman" in the voice actor list in the credits of Half-Life 2. Furthermore, in the manual for Opposing Force, Adrian Shephard makes mention of him as "a G-man." In Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, it is noted that "while the codename 'G-Man' slipped into common use, it remains merely a codename."
In the comment section of the "npc_gman.cpp" file of the Source SDK, it states: "// Purpose: The G-Man, misunderstood servant of the people."
In Half-Life, the Nihilanth makes a vague reference to the G-Man as he talks to Gordon before their battle, referring to him as "not man" and adding "for you he waits..." in the start of Half-Life 2 a Vortigaunt was seen speaking to G-man on a television. In the final chapter of Half-Life 2, Doctor Breen speaks to Gordon Freeman, implying he has "proven himself a fine pawn for those who control him," and informing Freeman that his "contract was open to the highest bidder." In addition, the Vortigaunts have several ambiguous lines that could be references to the G-Man: "Something secret steers us both. We shall not name it." and "Far distant eyes look out through yours." In the introduction to Half-Life 2: Episode One, the Vortigaunts are able to directly confront him, as well as overpower him to free Gordon Freeman. In Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Eli Vance indicates that he also knows the G-Man, referring to him as "our mutual friend." Additionally, in Episode Two, Alyx Vance is directly spoken to by the G-Man while she is unconscious, and then repeats the words to her father per his instructions, confirming that she and the G-Man have truly come into contact.
The G-Man seemingly has the power to appear in any place he chooses, including moving to and from other dimensions on a whim. He is also able to stop or slow down time at various points. In Half-Life, the G-Man will repeatedly appear in places that he should not be able to exit unnoticed or at all, yet is always gone by the time the player can investigate. In the very end of Half-Life 2, at the top of the Citadel he halts time completely right after a huge explosion that would have presumptively killed Freeman.
The G-Man seems to be able to take people into "parallel universe"-like areas and can put them into stasis. In most games featuring the G-Man, there are several sequences when the G-Man is talking at close range to the player, and various areas can be seen in the background, including areas from Black Mesa or even areas the player will visit later into the game. In these sequences, the G-Man talks to the player (the player's character never responds or reacts in any way) and can be seen quickly appearing in different portions of the screen, in dream-like sequences. He also appears on TV screens and "Breen Casts" dotted around the environment; G-Man also seems to have technopathic or telepathic abilities of some sort, as the player will occasionally see his face on things such as unplugged televisions. The G-Man is capable of operating a very wide range of machinery and technology, ranging from cellular phones and sealed steel doors to nuclear warheads and teleporters. In addition, he also appears to have the ability to plant subconscious suggestions or commands in others through psychic or hypnotic means, as he demonstrates on Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 by ordering her to relay the words "prepare for unforeseen consequences" to her father Eli Vance, which she eventually does, apparently with no awareness of what she is doing.
GameDaily listed G-Man as number 5 of the top 25 evil video game masterminds of all time. The G-Man is famous in the Garry's Mod community for his numerous humorous poses, exaggerated facial expressions and/or as a running joke in many videos, relayed by the YTMND community. He was placed as the fourth "biggest freak" on PlayStation's games by PlayStation Official Magazine.
- ↑ Half-Life 2: Episode One story page
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Valve; Hodgson, David SJ (2004), p. 137. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar. Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-7615-4364-3
- ↑ Half-Life 2
- ↑ Robert Workman. "Top 25 Evil Masterminds of All Time". GameDaily. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20081208111228/http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/galleries/top-25-evil-masterminds-of-all-time/?page=21.
- ↑ G-Man videos on YouTube
- ↑ Kelly, Andy (June 22, 2012). "The biggest freaks on PlayStation". PlayStation Official Magazine. http://www.officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk/2012/06/22/the-biggest-freaks-on-playstation/4/#gallery-top. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
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- "The Story So Far" – from Valve's official Episode One Web site.
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