Review by kiriyama2
"An enjoyable experience that is not without its flaws."
One of the things that I like about gaming is that sometimes there'll be a game where you play as the bad guy of the given series. There's a large number of Star Wars games where you get to play as the Empire, and there are numerous Mobile Suit Gundam games that allow you to play as Zeon, for instance. Hell there's even a Lord of the Ring game being made that'll let you play as Sauron's people. Which is one of the reasons that I like Half-Life: Opposing Force, because it lets you play as the military who were sent in to wipe out the scientists of Black Mesa. Granted, you don't really engage in mass scientist and security guard genocide, I just think it's neat that you get to play as one of the soldiers.
In OpFor, you play as Adrian Shephard, a soldier ordered to Black Mesa to contain the Xen incident. On the way the troop carrier is shot down and most everyone but Shepard are killed. Ironically Shephard gets saved by some of the scientists he was sent to kill. Needless to say there's really not much of a story after that point. Perhaps I am wrong in that regard, but until just about at the endgame there's really nothing in way of plot progression. Sure, you do come across a radio and one of your commanders tells you to meet up with the others, but that's really just to give you a hint as to where you're supposed to go next. Another thing that the game does not explicitly explain is why some of the other soldiers are trying to kill you. The spy enemies from the original Half-Life inexplicably show up and just start shooting at you, and it is never explained why. Sure, there is a bit of graffiti at one point in the game that says Death to traitors! But it never says why or how you're a traitor, the spies attacked you first. But whatever, you're there, aliens are there, and you need to go kill them.
Gameplay isn't all that different from Half-Life, which isn't surprising in the slightest. However, one thing OpFor has going for it that it's got over its predecessor is the weapons selection. Granted it has a smaller number than the original it is a tad bit more useful. In this you're offered two melee weapons, a wrench and a knife. What's nice about them is that each has drawbacks, the wrench, while it is the slower weapon, has a charge attack that does considerably more damage than the knife. The knife on the other hand is quicker than the wrench, and allows you to attack more than with the slow wrench. Not that you'll really need either of them outside of breaking crates. Because youre never particularly starved for ammo, and youll be fighting enemies that are always easily killed with a gun of some variety. Speaking of guns, one of the neat things is the inclusion of a new magnum. Granted it might just be considered a reskin of the magnum from original HL but this one holds one more bullet, and has a laser sight. There's also new alien weapons; there's one that's like an acid projectile launcher, which while it's pretty useless, serves as a good last-ditch weapon. There's also the fact that you get to use one of the barnacles (an enemy that rests on the roof and pulls people up to it and eats it) as a weapon, sure for all practical purposes it's not a good weapon, it does however make a great grappling hook. It is however, useful for eating head-crabs, or weakened vortigaunts. One of the other new human weapons is the inclusion of a heavy machine gun, it is an excellent addition, but there is very little ammo for the weapon. Both that you can use, and that you'll find around in the game, but still it is good to use. Also there's a sniper rifle, and it's actually useful as you can actually hit things with the scope, unlike that damned crossbow.
There are also very little new enemies in this game. There's something that's like a cross between the small three legged enemy with the sonic attack from the original and a vortigaunt that has a pair of claw arms. It's not an expressly hard enemy to kill, but it is a neat little addition. There's also a new ranged attacker, that fires off radioactive projectiles that is a real pain because of the fact that they like to run away if you so much as glance at them. The only other new enemy is a male spy, and of course there's the boss character, that actually does look pretty good, and is actually somewhat difficult to kill.
While I do like the game, a number of complaints arise. Foremost among them is once again the over abundance of jumping puzzles in this game (I assure you this is a common complaint I have with this series, and will indeed mention in my Blue Shift review as well). It's just not the fact that you are having to jump from crate to crate. The game just has a large amount of these where you'll jump, miss, and land in a large pile of nuclear sludge, or down into oblivion. What makes the jumping puzzle segments more annoying is the inclusion of climbable ropes. Which, while it's a nice addition, is poorly implemented. It's a royal pain climbing and jumping off these things, especially when there are numerous enemies firing various projectiles at you. Also, on the rope if you're trying to get some momentum going, you will often just fly off the rope and get flattened against the wall, or get electrocuted, or some sort of embarrassing death. However, despite all of my complaints the game gets so many points for not having those damned jump pads that were in absurd abundance in the original Half-Life.
Another annoyance is, once again, the escort missions. One of the good things about Half-Life was the fact that you didn't really need to keep any scientist, or security guard with you. When you did, it was only for a short time, to open a door, or retinal scanner. OpFor, on the other hand, does require you at points to drag along various soldiers with you. Unlike the scientists or guards, these guys actually do contribute to combat. For instance there's the soldier, who just shoots things, the engineer, who really serves no purpose other than opening locked doors, and the medic, who's actually useful, because he can heal you. Granted they still get hung up on desks, they can actually be somewhat useful, albeit not much. More often than not, all there good for is to act as a meat shield and get slaughtered by either the spies or the aliens. But the times when you are actually required to keep them alive it's very annoying, because they'll stand there and get separated from you far too often. They've also got that same loveable old quirk that the security guards had in original recipe HL, shoot too closely at them, or accidentally shoot them and they'll try to kill you.
However, I think the biggest problem the game suffers from, in my opinion, is the length. The game is embarrassingly short, and when you beat it, there's really no reason to play through it again. Despite these flaws though the game is certainly worth playing. But, it just must be said of the expansions Opposing Force isn't as good as Blue Shift (shocking I know), it is however, quite a bit of fun.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/08
Game Release: Half-Life: Opposing Force (US, 10/31/99)
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