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Half-Life: Blue Shift (Add on)

Action and Adventure video game by Sierra Online, Inc. for the Computer

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Back in Black, Mesa that is.

  • Sep 25, 2001
  • by
Pros: Great Gameplay, HD pack adds to all games in the series.

Cons: Far to short.

The Bottom Line: Fun game but lacks multiplay and is far to short.

My system
P 3 450
128 MB
Geforce 256 32MB
SB Live
Win ME

When a game sells 2.5 million copies and is still going strong nearly three years after its initial release, one would think that a sequel would have already found its way to the shelves.
However, when the game in question is Half Life, arguably the best selling and best reviewed game in modern computer history, the rules that apply to other titles simply do not apply here.
With a endless supply of fan made levels, modifications, dominating hard the world over, and with a mod, Counter Strike, being the most popular online game, one has to wonder if Valve is in any rush to release a follow up to the game. The Highly anticipated Team Fortress 2 is over a year and a half past its anticipated release, and has yet to make it onto the release radar for the near future. Half Life 2 is a top secret project that has a tighter lid of security and secrecy around it than the next Star Wars film and the Colonels secret recipe, as well as the source of the mystery meat served in school lunchrooms.
So what is a Half Life fan to do with nothing on the horizon save for playing fan mods? Well, the folks at Gearbox have attempted to satiate the demand for more original Half Life material by creating a follow up to their smash success Half Life Opposing Force and returned players to the Black Mesa Facility with
Half Life Blue Shift.

The original Half Life placed players in the role of scientist Gordon Freeman as he attempted to escape from the Black Mesa facility following a accident that ripped a hole into a new dimension and saw the facility flooded with all manner of deadly creatures, as well as ruthless government troops sent to silence anyone who knew or saw more than they were supposed to.
The game was groundbreaking as players found themselves as the central character in an interactive story as unlike traditional 3D shooters, the object was not simply to shoot everything in site and find the exit. An emphasis was placed on solving puzzles and interacting with various system facilities and characters for survival rather than a repetitive load, kill, repeat tactic that had defined the genre at the expense of any story, character development, or realistic settings.
It was not unusual for a player to spend a solid amount of time not in combat, but rather focusing on such issues as getting the generator started so they can use the elevator and finding a way to get around an area by using vents and boxes much as a person would have to do if they found themselves in a similar situation.
The solid story and gameplay of Half Life combined with great online play cemented the game in the history books and set a standard for all other to follow.
With increasing demand for more Half Life adventures from the gaming public, Valve studios contracted Gearbox Studios to create the official expansion pack for Half Life, Opposing Force.
Opposing Force expanded the backstory of Half Life by casting players as CPl Sheppard, a Special Forces soldier dispatched to Black Mesa to restore order. Following the disaster. The players got to see new areas of the Black Mesa, and got to view the story from the eyes of the military. The pack was complete with the same gripping storyline, action, and gameplay that made the original such a hit even though it was not embraced by the public in nearly the same way as the original game was.
Despite the lukewarm reception given to Opposing Force by some in the gaming public, Valve once again contracted with Gearbox to create the second expansion pack, Blue Shift. I
n Blue Shift, players get to take on the role of security guard Barney Calhoun. The events in the game take place at the same time as the other two games, as Barney attempts to get out of the Black Mesa facility. Along the way, players will battle many of the monsters and soldiers that tormented Freeman and Sheppard in the previous games, as well as solve puzzles a new set of puzzles as you attempt to keep Barney alive and escape from the facility. Along the way, Barney will gain new weapons, protect scientists from danger, and explore new locales of the Black Mesa and the Alien’s Homeworld.
While the game was fun, it was far to short, as, I was able to complete the entire game in under five hours, and found myself asking if that was all there is, Furthermore, the game does not offer any new weapons, and has fewere than the previous two. I would have loved to see Barney use the Ray Gun, or one of the alien weapons in his attempt to survive his day at the Black Mesa. Since Barney is a Security guard who has two years of college, I would have liked to see Barney becoming far more than his job description as he battles hardened troops and deadly enemies while his fellow security guards lie dead or in a panic. I think something like Barney passing up a way out to go to the assistance of another would have done his character a world of good, as while I cared for Barney, I wanted to know a bit more about him as his interactions with other characters was much less than the central characters in the previous games.
The graphics engine for Blue Shift is updated by use of the included High Resolution pack. The pack also updates the graphics on Half Life and Opposing Force, and enhances not only the terrain but the facial expressions of the game characters.
While Blue Shift does have its god points, mainly gameplay and more of the classic Half Life story, there really is little here to make it stand out from many of the fan made mods such as They Hunger and USS Darkstar..
There are no new weapons, monsters, or settings in the game, and I was surprised to discover that the game did not feature a boss monster anywhere along the way as the previous games in the series did. I was also hoping to hear some of Barney’s quips as his comments in the original game allowed his character to be more than simply a Non player Character. (NPC)
A further piece of concern, and yes it is nitpicking, is that the character you play in Blue Shift often interacted with Freeman and Sheppard in the previous games, but Freeman is seen only briefly, and has no real impact on the game. It would have been nice to see Barney team with Gordon for a few levels that recreated scenes from the original before going on with the rest of his solo mission.
That being said, it is important to know that Blue Shift was originally designed to be a console only game, and it was decided to offer the game for PC users as a bridge to the upcoming Half Life 2., and as such, is much shorter than previous entries into the series and does not have a Multiplay mode.
Blue Shift also comes with the full version of Opposing Force, a utility to update the graphic resolution of Half Life and Opposing Force, as well as a rebate for those players who have previously purchased Opposing Forces. The game also does not require any previous version of Half Life to play, though understanding the Half Life Story will greatly fill in the games storyline.
In summary, Blue Shift is a nice return to a classic game scenario but is far to short and fails when compared to the previous titles in the series as nothing new was added to the game. While playing Blue Shift was fun, I would compare the experience to eating Chinese food. No sooner had I finished, then I wanted more.
8 out of 10
Gareth Von Kallenbach
Concept 80
Even for an expansion pack, it is very short.
Gameplay 90
While short, the missions are true to the Half Life formula and can require some thought and strategy to complete.
Graphics 70
Thought the graphics are dated, the high-resolution pack does a great job of enhancing the graphics.
Sound 70
Solid, the sounds of the Black Mesa have never sounded better.
Technical 90
No Problems at all, a solid build.
Overall 80
While it would be nice to have had the pack been much longer, it was still a fun return to the Black Mesa.
P233, 32Mb RAM
300Mb HDD
PII-300, 64Mb RAM
3D accelerator
Rating M
Links: http://www.sierra.com
Release Date June 2001


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About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this video game


Half-Life: Blue Shift allows fans of the franchise to explore areas of the Black Mesa Research Facility where even Gordon Freeman never gained access. Half-Life: Blue Shift is a stand-alone product that does not require Half-Life to play. Exclusively in N
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ESRB: M - (Mature)
Publisher: Sierra Online, Inc.

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