Welcome to a new feature of this site: NPC Kombat. Inspired from Christopher Livingston’s To the Death and Mythos’ A.I. Arena, this aims to do the same as the previous two: pitch two factions in a simple or wacky scenario and watch them duke it out in pure AI and some special modifications, while trying to narrate the results in the most funny ways possible.
Special thanks to Mythos for helping me come up with a name!
Now, before we start the battle, a few things need to be introduced. First, the arena. For this battle we are using is the first map found in the chapter “Follow Freeman!” in Half-Life 2. The major modifications to fit the battle include simply blocking off the two exits from the main street where you encounter the first two snipers in the area. Mainly, the doorway to the spot where the player first spawns, though doubtful that anybody will actually venture here, you can never be too careful. Secondly, the blue double-doorway to the building infested with zombies and Headcrabs. I simply spawned and froze a giant trash dumpster inside the doorway to block it off. Otherwise someone might wander in there and become distracted by all the mindless creatures! Now, for this match we have three factions, who will duke it out to see which one will come out victorious. We have the Resistance, the Combine, and the Antlions. First up the Resistance’s side…
Is “Colonel” Oddessa Cubbage, and Barney Calhoun. Oddessa is practically worshipped by his men at the coast hideout New Little Oddessa, but pretty much despised by everyone else. He’s not much more than a royal coward in reality, but he’s got an awesome mustache and a cool jacket, which has “Security” on the back, oddly enough. And one could never forget his British accent. Oddessa will be taking the job as Sniper for the Resistance in this bout with the Combine sniper rifle, which is fitting enough because at NLO, he always stays in the basement, safely dispatching orders and warnings through his radio while never exposing himself to the slightest amount of personal harm. For this match, he is also given a whopping 1500 HP, allowing him to take several shots if needed. Though even NPC’s with insane modified health tend to drop dead on the ground with a couple well-placed headshots in Gmod. And since the health does not regenerate, he’ll have to be careful. Barney is armed with his regular weapon: the AR2, or Pulse-Rifle, a powerful gun, fairly accurate if fired in short bursts and standard issue for a good amount of Combine Soldiers. Barney by default is built with rapidly regenerating health, so he doesn’t really need much modification for the battle. Next up is…
Two ordinary Rebels. The guy armed with the AR2 looks suspiciously like Gordon Frohman of Half-Life: Concerned… Not much to say here except to compliment them on their fine facial hair, which almost beats the Colonel’s fine mustache.
We have another Rebel armed with an AR2 here along with one armed with an SMG, who really doesn’t look very enthusiastic to be there. Figures.On the left we also have a finely dressed Citizen armed with the powerful SPAS-12 Shotgun, who appears to be levitating in the air for some odd reason. There’s actually a corpse of him between the two trucks on the opposite end of the street, which was removed for this match.
Next up, armed with the Shotgun and the same whoppin’ 1500 health points as Oddessa, is Reggie Dexture. Reggie is not an actual Half-Life 2 character in-game, but rather a little character of mine. I’ll spare you a summary of him and simply say that he is a very good Resistance fighter who has a twin brother by the name of Ronnie Dexture, who is not used in this match for the sake of not having too many high-HP NPCs for a single faction. I plan to write a brief overview of my Half-Life OC’s at some point.
Jenni Moon! Oh, I’m sorry, you were expecting Alyx Vance weren’t you? Nah, you get the affectionate parody of her instead. Besides, one NPC with regenerating Health is enough; she is simply a re-skinned Medic with Alyx’s gun and 1500 HP, which, I repeat, does not regenerate. Since she’s not quite Alyx, her AI isn’t quite as good. But who knows, she might come out of this alive as Alyx would! And lastly for the Resistance…
Two people here that I like to call “the wall-hugging couple”. Nothing to say here, really. They’re just two ordinary Rebels with SMGs
Make that a big squad of Combine Soldiers. Two Combine Elites, two shotgunners (who have the annoying ability to fire at a semi-automatic rate on occasion), six standard variants, and four special men. Two of them are just Snipers taken from their safe spots above the streets and put right onto the middle of said street. However, they are just reskinned standard soldiers armed with sniper rifles, meaning their AI is completely identical. So they may or may not keep back from the main battle. The Elites have increased health from their standard bretheren and can fire deadly Dark Energy Balls from their Pulse-Rifles, which will instantly vaporise any NPCs without insane health points. Let’s just hope they don’t have depth perception problems from that single red eye. Now what about the other two special guys?
Meet Nova, the first soldier produced specifcally for Nova Prospekt, but something went wrong and he kept his free will. So they just put him to work as a Civil Protection unit, but he proved pretty usefull and is now partners with Pink. Oh yeah, 1500 HP.
And speaking of Pink, here she is now! You can guess where she gets her name from. (The pink uniform, duh.) Unlike Nova, she a strict no-nonsense kind of person, and quite valuable to the Combine. One problem was that she prefers using a revolver to a pistol, but since the default 357 Magnum in-game cannot be fired by NPCs, well… Yeah. Thankfully though, I had downloaded an NPC weapon pack that included a new revolver! Now she can blast away at those stupid Rebels with her favorite weapon! Assuming she can hit them, since CP’s typically have Stormtrooper-style aim. I should note that she’s only a pink-colored Civil Protection NPC, meaning her AI is slightly dim compared to her Combine Soldier big brothers unfortinitely. But on the bright side, she CAN deploy a single Manhack, which might be somewhat useful during the battle. And of course, she has 1500 health points.
The Antlion Guard, one of the most powerful ground NPCs in the entire game. Kill too many regular Antlions, and you’ll stur up the wraith of one of these juggernauts. It attacks by simply charging into or headbutting whatever it sees, always meaning a lethal result unless the victim has a ludicrious amount of health (or an HEV suit, appearantly). He/she/it is accompanied by three standard Antlions. They aren’t really too durable, but they make up for it with numbers and the coding to kill Combine Soldiers in a single hit (though not any other NPCs). They also just look cool, too. These three only pose a decent threat to the Combine Squad, as their attacks do normal damage to all other NPCs. Their main purpose here is really just to act as cannon fodder so the Guard can get a good hit or too off, though I seriously doubt it’s going to need them at all. Both To the Death and AI Arena have had Antlion Guards in their matches, and the Guard won 2 our of three times in To the Death against the game’s three strongest human NPCs, and even the third time it managed to cause major damage. And the only reason it lost in AI Arena was due to pathfinding issues in New Little Oddessa. Will it come out victorious amoungst the Combine and the Resistance? Or actually kick the bucket this time?
All right… We have everything set up, everybody has been introduced… All that’s left is to FIGHT!
Oh, and to remain true to the form of To the Death and AI Arena, I will not be participating in the battle. My job is simply to take screenshots and narrate.
Okay, time to put on my Mortal Kombat voice.
The very SECOND I re-enable the AI, everybody, Combine and Resistance, opens fire on the Antlion Guardian all at once! Nova fires two shots, one at the Guard, and another at the Antlion by the Wall-Hugging Couple, causing it to instantly blow up. Both the Guard and the second Antlion turn towards the Couple and charge as the third Antlion chooses to instead go after the Combine Squad! A Grenade is lobbed from a Combine Soldier and Pink lets her Manhack out to slice ‘n dice. Or at least try.
Both members of the Wall-Hugging Club choordinate their fire on the second Antlion, who is quickly torn to shreds by the SMG’s, but for unknown reasons they turn and start at firing at something off-screen. I have no idea what it is they’re shooting at, since the only other Antlion alive is chewing up a Soldier who’s buddy took lethal friendly fire. The couple remains blissfully ignorent of the gigantic Antlion Guardain right next to them, who decides to ponder why the two love walls so much for a few seconds instead of headbutting them. Maybe it’s asking for a moment of silence for its three fallen Antlion minons, who knows?
With the exception of the two folks in love with the walls, everybody’s fire is currently focused on the Guard, who finally wakes up and headsmashes the couple into oblivion. The two die next to what they loved most; their favorite wall. A truly poetic death.
Meanwhile, Pink chooses to remain safe and sound behind her truck, hoping her Manhack does all the work for her, while Nova and a Combine Shotgunner charge directly into the fight picking away at the Guard with their SPAS-12’s. As a sign falls to the ground, Jenni strafes around the Headcrab Canister to the front of the Guard while firing away at it with Alyx’s weird sub-machine pistol thingy. The Guardian charges directly at Jenni, though only after she chooses to stop and stand still.
Which proves to be a fatal mistake. She is hit by the beast and decides to try her AI’s new “crouch and don’t shoot strategy” while also combining it with “turn around and don’t look at the big honking’alien smashing you around”. She stubbornly employs this odd tactic while everyone else continues firing at the thing.
Nova, the anonymous Shotgunner, and, oddly, one of the Snipers all charge at the raging bull, er, raging Guardian while giving it constant doses of shotgun blasts. The Rebels keep their distance and continue firing, while the Combine do the same. Pink, meanwhile, ponders the meaning of life behind her truck. Or maybe she’s just AFK.
And after about 5 headbutts to her, um, rear, Jenni takes one for the team and kicks the bucket, as well as slamming into a white wall near where Reggie stood, who appears to have similar interests to Pink, as he stares blankly into space wondering why the building has to painted such a color as white. The Guardain starts bleeding out, a sure sign that it’s close to biting the dust, but even then it can still take a huge amount of abuse before it does.
S/he briefly and sends Pink’s Manhack to the Moon and then wastes no time manuevering around the Headcrabs canister and charges straight at the second AR2-wielding Rebel, taking out the drawer Reggie previously used as cover and a random piece of wood in addition to the Rebel, who attempts to employ a similar “crouch and don’t shoot” strategy. The AR2 dude pays the price for using such a tried-and-false tactic, but WHAT’S THIS?!
The Guardian promptly drops dead! I didn’t expect its death to happen so quickly, and yet, it appears that with every single NPC in the match aside from the Antlions coordinating their fire, it was enough to actually bring it down! With the largest threat gone, and its body now acting as a effective cover (thanks to having Keep Corpses enabled), the Rebel and Combine squads immediately start firing at each other. Now the battle gets interesting!
The Anonymous Shotgunner decides to fall back along with the Sniper while Nova re-engages his charge at the Resistance. Oddessa sees this and takes aim with his Sniper Rifle and hits Nova… Right in the groin. Well, there’s a reason there’s armor padding there I suppose.
On the Soldier’s side of the shootout, Pink wonders why the truck’s trailer has to be painted such a dull gray, while the Anonymous Shotgunner walks into the shop, probably wishing Game-X-Change wasn’t put out of business by the Seven Hour War so he could get a copy Half-Life for the PlayStation 2. A Combine Elite backs up Nova in his charge against the Rebels.
I fail to grab a screenshot of this, but Reggie decides to intercept Nova, firing his shotgun while doing so. He’s forced to reload, and Nova uses the typical “smash the enemy with your gun if he gets close to you” tactic that every Combine Soldier uses… And Reggie just stands there, not firing or even MOVING. On top of this he takes heavy friendly fire from Barney. Finally after about 6 or so weapon-smacks from Nova (complete with a comedic “ow!” each time), he wakes up from his AI braincramp and backs off while firing at Nova.
For a few minutes the two just stand there exchanging rounds, while an SMG Rebel assists Reggie and Gordon Frohman continues firing at the main Combine Squad. Nova is forced to reload, and in a show of smart AI he cleverly uses the Antlion Guard’s carcass as a shield from a small amount of the Resistance’s bullets. He strafes in and out of cover now and then while emptying round after round of relentless shotgun blasts, while also briefly switching targets to eliminate the finely-dressed Citizen.
Though clearly enjoying the luxuries of unusually high health points, Nova remembers that they don’t regenerate and decides he should back off for the moment. Be beats a hasty retreat as the two Combine Snipers decide to slowly advance up the sidewalk while sniping at Barney, while a Combine Soldier that attempted to back up Nova in his assault is gunned down by the Resistance. Meanwhile, Pink is lucky the server hasn’t moved her to spectator mode by now.
Nova changes his mind and once again charges at the Resistance, despite ever-decreasing HP, using the now knocked-over Guard carcass as minor cover as he blasts Barney and the Rebel at Reggie’s side, who takes a moment to reflect on the death of his SMG-armed friend. Gordon Frohman meanwhile, is taken down by AR2 fire off-screen.
Nova once again runs along the sidewalk, but he is losing health points rapidly from Reggie’s Shotgun, continued SMG fire from the other Rebels, Barney’s AR2, and Oddessa, who finally decides to point his scope at the head. One of the fearless Snipers rushes to his side and attempts to help his comrade, but finds himself doing the splits as he is gunned down by Reggie, followed immidietly by Nova, who also chooses to practice his warm-ups.
Meanwhile, the Anonymous Shotgunner, the two Elites, that other Shotgunner, and all but three Combine Soldiers have been killed during Nova’s reckless assault. Reggie tries to put his back against the street light, but doesn’t realise it doesn’t offer him too much protection. The rebel by the tree has trouble deciding whether to switch to an AR2 from one of his fallen allies or keep his SMG. After a couple times swapping out each weapon, he finally decides his less-accurate and less-powerfull SMG is fine and keeps that.
The cameraman receives a new command, and he pulls out his Physics Gun, grabs Pink and then drops her by the front of the truck. Finally back in the game (and very lucky she wasn’t kicked), she opens fire with her 357 at the Resistance, scoring a kill even with her default Civil Protection aiming issues. Her Overwatch Soldier buddies allow her to do most of the work and choose to remain behind cover. But then for whatever reason, Pink stops shooting. Still pointing her weapon at the remaining Rebels, but not firing.
One of the Soldiers pops out from behind the back of the truck just enough to fire at Barney, but he appearantly has his own aiming problems and hits everything BUT Barney, who’s own superior aiming skills proves lethal for the soldier.
For the next minute or so, nothing happens. The soldiers do get shot at, but don’t even get hit once. Pink is trying very hard to make sure her Metrocop AI can get a good shot at Reggie, but her Soldier friends actually stay idle long enough that they start to walk off as if nothing’s there!
The camera man is getting new orders from the Citidel… He briefly disables the AI and moves all four remaining forces out in front of the truck, then once again enables it. Pink relentlessly fires round after round of Magnum power at Reggie, who responds by standing perfectly still and occasionaly firing back. Meanwhile, the Combine Soldiers all employ a simple “crouch and shoot” tactic, but they are Sniped by Oddessa and gunned down by Barney.
Pink, still having full health, stubbornly stays put and repeats the process of firing six rounds and reloading, the dim CP AI prohibiting her from doing anything else.
Oddessa Cubbage however, appears to have mistaken Pink for a male, as he Snipes her repeatedly between the legs as he did with Nova. No comment there. Reggie continues standing and occassionaly firing a round or two at her head. Barney, being the jerk he is, aims for the same area that The Colonel does, though he hits her legs more often.
Finally, after about 2 full minutes or so of this, Reggie scores the final blow and blasts Pink in the head with his shotgun. Taking a facefull of bullets, she falls to her side lifeless and loses her trademark pink color. Rest in piece, Pink, your time spent making a sandwich will be remembered for ages to come.
Nova lies motionless on the city sidewalk, having attempted one of the most aggressive assaults I’ve seen yet.
The Antlion Guardian lies on its side, having been gunned down by unexpected combined efforts of the Combine Soldiers and the Resistance. Teamwork pays off, people!
Jenni Moon lies with her eyes open after being headsmashed several times by the old Guard. One of the SMG-wielding Rebels lies empty of life looking like he had tripped over the Anonymous Shotgunner’s own corpse. We hope to see them in the next life. Or, you know, the next episode.
The two fearless Combine Snipers lay in slightly comedic death poses in front of the finely-dressed Citizen, the second AR2 guy, and another SMG dude. Gordon Frohman lies in his own slightly odd position near the blood-stained white building. Or maybe it’s just getting a new paint job.
The entire Combine Squad has been eliminated in the ongoing quest for freedom by the Resistance. Having shown great teamwork, aside from Pink, these men will be remembered for showing above-average AI in the heat of battle.
Reggie, Oddessa, and Barney stand victorious in the midst of their fallen allies, prepared for whatever comes next. Reggie looks towards the Heavens while Oddessa is considering knocking him out with the giant barrel of his Sniper Rifle, while Barney wonders why Pink was so passive.
We shall end this coverage by handing out special awards to the NPCs.
Greatest Punching Bag goes to: Reggie Dexture, for having allowed Nova to smack him 6 times in a row while also taking heavy friendly fire from Barney.
Most Aggressive goes to: Nova, for leading several charges against the enemies of the Combine.
Greatest Teamwork goes to: The Combine Squad, for actively backing up Nova in his reckless assaults.
Unscathed goes to: Oddessa Cubbage and Barney Calhoun, for having never taken even a single bullet to their bodies during the entire battle.
AFK goes to: Pink, for obvious reasons.