The Seven Hour War is a fictional conflict appearing in the back-story of the 2004 computer game Half-Life 2. Although never discussed directly in the game, the war is mentioned briefly by Dr. Eli Vance in Black Mesa East if the player stares at the newspaper clippings long enough and more details can be gathered through newspaper clippings and conversations. The war is also mentioned in Half Life 2: Episode Two.
The portal storms, believed to be caused by the death of the Nihilanth, raged across Earth, (and still do according to writer Marc Laidlaw) spreading Xen life forms about the planet and causing the human population to move into cities for protection. These portal storms attracted an alien empire known as the Combine, also called the Universal Union, which defeated all of Earth's confused and distracted armed forces in only seven hours. Dr. Wallace Breen negotiated a surrender on behalf of the entire planet, saving the survivors at the cost of their freedom. Breen was appointed administrator of Earth, but remains under the control of the Combine.
At the beginning of Half-Life 2, the G-Man makes a brief reference to the war, telling Gordon Freeman that "all the effort in the world would have gone to waste." This is generally understood to be a direct reference to the war, the establishment of Dr. Breen's terror state, and the reasons for Freeman's stasis. Despite Freeman's triumph at Black Mesa, there was nothing that he or the entire human race could have done to save Earth from the superior forces of the Combine empire.
Half-Life 2 begins an undisclosed number of years after this war, after the rule of the Combine has been firmly established. There is, however, some evidence from the Half-Life 2: Episode One official website indicating that Half-Life 2 takes place nearly two decades after the Black Mesa incident. Such a time frame is logically consistent with the aging of the series' characters between Half-Life and Half-Life 2. It also explains why there are no children in the game, the Combine having set up a reproductive suppression field a short time after the war, preventing any further births.
- "Marc Laidlaw's clarifications regarding headcrabs, bullsquids and the Portal Storm". Halflife2.net. http://www.halflife2.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1581445&postcount=825. Retrieved October 26.
- Summary of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 in the official Half-Life 2: Episode One website. Retrieved on August 26, 2006.