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The Combine Advisors are the main antagonists of the entire Half-Life series. They are bio-mechanical emotionless, cultureless, logical beings who enslave, assimilate and exploit all other sentient life for their own purposes, mostly for amoral scientific advancement. They serve as the primary controlling force of the entire Combine Empire. The Advisors are responsible for the Seven Hour War, which was the beginning of their invasion of Earth and the conquer of humanity within the aforementioned 7 hours.
A single Combine Advisor serves as the Bigger Bad/Greater Scope Villain, occasionally seen on screens giving Wallace Breen orders.
In the final battle of the game, the Advisor orders Breen to teleport using the Dark Fusion Reactor of the Citadel to enter their own universe, where it demands Breen be put in a host body (presumably another Advisor) to survive. The Advisor then gains control of the computers and signs off from the screen, preventing Alyx from gaining control when she tries to stop the teleportation. The Advisor finally opens a portal for Breen to travel through during the final battle against Gordon Freeman, although Gordon destroys it, foiling the Advisor and presumably sending Breen falling to his death.
Half-Life 2: Episode One
The Advisors are the main antagonists of Episode One.
When Gordon and Alyx head back to the Citadel, a recording of Breen is seen from the Advisor's point of view, at which the creature's face appears all over the screens and a real Advisor appears squirming in its Incubation Pod, ready to eject itself from the Citadel. Alyx taps the glass and this apparently angers it, sending telekinetic waves through the room as it ejects from the Citadel at top speed.
Throughout the rest of the game, an Advisor can be briefly seen on cameras giving orders to Combine units.
After the powerful Strider is brought down at the end, Gordon and Alyx escape City 17 via train as the Citadel explodes, creating a super portal through which more forces may arrive through. The last shot of the game is that of the Advisor pods dominating the skies as the Citadel explodes, sending the train off tracks.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
The Advisors are once again the main antagonists, taking a far more direct role and even engaging the protagonists. The most prominent among the Advisors is the Barn Advisor (the one who literally crashed in a Barn safe house).
The Advisors (known as Shu'ulathoi by the Vortigaunts) are still in their Incubation Pods and have not yet hatched, but are safeguarded by the most powerful Combine forces on their journey to destroy White Forest.
The Barn Advisor, however, ejected itself to safety from the Citadel during the events of Episode 1 and crashed in a nearby barn, emerging from its pod and building a protective life support structure around itself to rest and mature in growth and abilities. Gordon and Alyx encounter the crashed pod and begin experiencing powerful illusions and telekinetic disturbances as they get nearer to the Advisor. Alyx and Gordon decide to kill it before it wakes up by shutting off its life support system.
Gordon does so using the Gravity Gun, however all this does is cause the structure to peel back and reveal the now-awakened Barn Advisor, who casually slams Gordon and Alyx up against the wall and begins testing its powers on the surroundings, picking up objects and draining a dead man of his blood before twisting him and effortlessly throwing him across the room. It then decides to feed on Gordon until the structure encasing it explodes, resulting in it being injured and enraged by a bar being stuck partially in the side of its head. Deciding to leave immediately and heal itself, it tears the roof to shreds and tosses Gordon and Alyx to the ground, using the pieces of the roof as a powerful makeshift shield swirling around it before flying away.
As Gordon battles the Combine army to protect the silo within White Forest, an Advisor hovers over the entrance before Gordon secures it shut, sending more troops through. It is unknown if this is the Barn Advisor having healed itself (notice there is no metal bar or any sign of injuries) or one of its accomplices having awoken as well.
After Gordon successfully defeats the army of Striders and Hunters attacking the White Forest Rocket, Gordon presses the button and the rocket destroys the super portal, preventing more Combine forces from coming through and foiling the Advisors' plans yet again. Now extremely enraged, the Advisors decide to deal with matters personally.
As Gordon, Alyx, and her father Eli begin preparations for the former two to take off using the helicopter to find the Aurora Borealis (a ship manufactured by Aperture Science which appears to be a weapon both the G-Man and the Advisors could potentially use against the other side) and destroy it to prevent it being used, a furious Advisor tears through the roof of the garage and floors the trio, pinning Gordon and Alyx against the wall and beginning to attack Eli. Eli reminds them to destroy the ship before fighting back against the Advisor with a pipe and whacking it in the face, only annoying it further. Before he can do anything else, the first Advisor smacks the pipe out of his hands and a second Advisor arrives, picking up Eli as the first grabs Gordon and Alyx. Eli tells Alyx he loves her and to turn away and don't look, knowing exactly what the Advisor will do to him.
In mere moments, Eli has his brain pierced by the second Advisor's tongue and has the information in his mind drained as well as his life energy. With Eli finished, the first Advisor personally prepares to do the same to Gordon, however, help is on the way as D0G tears through the roof and heavily injures the first Advisor, causing it to drop Gordon and Alyx and fly out the roof to recover. The second Advisor promptly drops Eli and follows suit, both barely escaping with their lives but causing a major blow to the hearts of the Resistance.
A Combine Advisor reappears as a minor character in Half-Life: Alyx. It is seen killing Eli again, before Alyx undos his death by destroying the advisor, creating a new timeline where Alyx has been removed into stasis, and Eli survives.
Half-Life 2: Episode 3
According to the leaked information about the storyline of the (still unfinished) game by Marc Laidlaw, the Advisors track Gordon and Alyx to the Borealis and send in the Combine Overwatch forces to intercept and steal the ship for themselves. It is also revealed that Dr. Breen was indeed transformed into one of them (due to having his mind essentially copied and pasted into an empty body), although he is still said to be a slave of a higher power - this implies that the pre-existing Advisors have authority over him as he is a newer member of their race, or this may also imply that the Advisor species have their own superior. Breen captures Gordon and Alyx, however he explains that he despises his existence and the illusion of control, knowing that he is still subservient to the real masterminds, and asks that Gordon could kill him or spare him. At this point in the game, Gordon would be able to choose to kill or spare him.
When Gordon and Alyx take the Borealis all the way to the Advisors' lair (possibly their Homeworld) and try to cause the warping ship to explode in the Advisors' Command Center, they realize that, while the Command Center is within their reach to be obliterated, the Combine world is enormous and comprised of a powerful energy, too powerful for the Borealis to even come close to destroying. G-Man takes Alyx away and states that they have work to do while leaving Gordon behind for unknown reasons, however, the Vortigaunts come to his rescue before the ship explosion or the Advisors can kill him.
It is unknown if the ship's explosion killed the Advisors in the Command Center, or whether or not their species as a whole was defeated. Gordon is returned to Earth, where he appears to have shifted forward in time and the world has changed drastically, and the story ends on a cliffhanger, not revealing whether the mission to destroy the Advisors and force the army off of Earth succeeded or the grub-like overlords achieved victory.
- In Half-Life: Alyx, it is suggested that there is a boss or a master race superior to the Advisors, confirming that they are not the prime rulers of the Combine Empire.
- It is heavily implied that the Advisors seen are only in their larval form, suggesting that upon hatching they will begin to evolve and grow into far more powerful creatures.
- It is suggested that the Advisors are the true and original Combine species that learned to evolve and adapt to space travel and enslave other species to integrate into their empire.
- The Advisors had enslaved most of the Xen aliens prior to their invasion in the first game. The Nihilanth even states that it is the last of its kind, implying that the Advisors either killed or enslaved all other Nihilanth individuals.
- As the script for Episode 3 states that Gordon and Alyx failed to destroy the Combine Homeworld, the Advisors may have succeeded in conquering the universe unless Earth was saved by the Borealis' destruction of the Command Center or G-Man and Alyx worked together on a counterattack. Gordon's final fate is currently unknown.