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G-Man, voiced by Michael Shapiro, is a mysterious recurring character in the Half-Life series of first-person shooter video games. Described as a "sinister interdimensional bureaucrat", he is known to display peculiar behavior and capabilities beyond those of normal humans.
Left: The G-Man, as seen in Half-Life.
Right: As seen in and after Half-Life 2
|First game||Half-Life (1998)|
|Voiced by||Michael Shapiro|
Throughout the story of the Half-Life series, G-Man plays the role of an overseer and employer – he controls player-character Gordon Freeman's insertion to or extraction from the game world on several occasions, and his monologues with Freeman reveal his importance in the series' overall narrative. He claims to answer to some unseen higher authority which he refers to simply as his "employers". His mysterious nature has made him an icon of the Half-Life series, with his identity and motives remaining almost completely unexplained.
Concept and creationEdit
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 and the multiplayer profile menu as a default name option, 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 in the book about game development Raising the Bar.
A description of the G-Man's nature is given in the comment section of the file "npc_G-Man.cpp" in the Source SDK file "sourcesdk.gcf": "// Purpose: The G-Man, misunderstood servant of the people." In the official Half-Life audio script, the G-Man is referred to as "Administrator", suggesting he is the one overseeing experiments. This title was later retconned to refer to Wallace Breen.
Frank Sheldon, the person on whom the G-Man's Half-Life 2 model is based, was originally slated to be the model for Dr. Breen. It was chosen for the G-Man's appearance after Bill Van Buren created a modified image of Sheldon, with chopped-off hair and a scaled down face shape. Doug Wood, who designed the facial expressions of the Half-Life 2 G-Man model, wanted the player to never quite know what side the G-Man was on by giving him ambiguous facial expressions.
Appearance and behaviorEdit
G-Man appears throughout the series either in monologue scenes which occur at key points in the story, or in live gameplay, where he can be seen briefly in far-off background areas or locations that the player can't access until later in the level. The character has the appearance of a middle-aged, light-skinned 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, a purple tie and usually holding a 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 Frank Sheldon. 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, the 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 does not 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).
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 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 G-Man's facial expressions, Wood spent weeks in front of a mirror practicing the expressions on himself.
In Half-Life, the Nihilanth makes a vague reference to 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 the 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 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. They trap him within a barrier of purple energy; this allows Gordon Freeman to exit stasis and return to City 17. In Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Eli Vance indicates that he also knows 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 G-Man have truly come into contact.
G-Man appears to have a number of inhuman abilities. He seems to have 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, 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. At the very end of Half-Life 2, on top of the Citadel, he halts time completely during a huge explosion that would have killed Gordon and Alyx.
G-Man seems to be able to take people into "parallel universe"-like "voids" and put them into stasis. In most games featuring G-Man, there are several sequences when 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, 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 "Breencasts" dotted around the environment; G-Man also seems to have techno- or telepathic abilities of some sort, as the player will occasionally see his face on pieces of technology, such as unplugged televisions. G-Man is seen 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 Two 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 was doing.
He also hints at having additional, unseen powers in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. G-Man expresses regret at not being able to do more than keeping an eye on Gordon Freeman, claiming his employers have given him some "restrictions".
GameDaily listed G-Man as number 5 of the top 25 evil video game masterminds of all time. 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.
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