Review: Half-Life: Blue Shift (~3 hours)

Both Half-Life: Opposing Force, and Half-Life: Blue Shift were developed by Gearbox Software before we knew much about them. Gearbox would go on to make Borderlands, which was something of a hit and which I personally enjoyed. As for their Half-Life games, I enjoyed Blue Shift, and although it’s a shorter game than the original, I think it’s a better game overall.

The plot is rather nice. Those security guards that checked you in as Gordon Freeman in the first game? Now you’re one of them, Barney Calhoun, who starts a normal day, and ultimately comes to see a hostile alien at Black Mesa and has to fight his way to freedom. You see things in Black Mesa as Barney that you don’t as Gordon, such as a shooting range, and a yard for storing trains.

Guns are introduced more gradually. For a long time it’s just you and your pistol. Then it’s you and your pistol and your shotgun. Ultimately, you don’t get nearly as many weapons as Gordon Freeman did. On the bright side, you get body armor frequently, comparable to those HEV stations that charge Gordon’s suit. I suppose it’s less difficult.

You come to look for Dr. Rosenberg who helps you escape the laboratory. It’s imperative that you get him to the teleporter. Along the way, you might stumble upon a box that breaks open to reveal gears. A “gear box”! Clever. I think Gearbox handled graphics better, with appropriate textures in appropriate places. Not sure how else to put this, but they are better “interior designers.”

When you finally get to the teleporter, you go to the planet “Xen” as in the first game (might as well use the art assets). There is equipment on Xen that can pinpoint a safe exit point at Black Mesa. That’s all you’re there for. Finally, a few scientists escape to the safe exit point through the teleporter, then Dr. Rosenberg, and finally yourself, Barney Calhoun. While teleporting, you wind up “in flux” and catch a scene from the first game. Neat.

The last thing I’ll say is the puzzles here are much simpler. All in all, it’s a well-made package, probably about a third to a quarter as long as the original game. It never overstays it’s welcome. Upon watching the credits, Gearbox Software was about fifteen people, and there are special thanks for about fourteen people and organizations. Perhaps this game helped them reach payroll to make Borderlands. All I know is, it’s better than the first game.



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