Review by pubbisk

"The little expansion that could..."

In 1999, we were graced with what was the best FPS of all time, Half Life. It starred Gordon Freeman, a scientist working at the top secret Black Mesa Research Facility. After an experiment goes awry, he must make his way through the ruined complex, helping survivors and trying to make sense of what happened. Opposing Force is centered around the same events, but this time you play the game through the eyes of a U.S. soldier known only as Corporal Sheppard who was sent in after the incident.

Concept: 9/10 While this game only ran on the Half Life engine, it introduced some of the first squad-based combat as we know it today. Rather than forcing you to make even the simplest of moves for every member of your team like in Rainbow 6, Opposing Force put an exciting spin on Clancy's idea by giving your teammates computer AI. You could still give commands like follow, stay, or special class related orders, but they would execute on their own. This made squad based combat easy to manage, fast paced, and fun.

Graphics: 8/10 Just to be fair, I'll rate the graphics based on their quality when OF came out. While a few cosmetic improvements had been added, OF essentially looks the same as the original Half Life. Being an older game, everything appears kind of grainy and under detailed. Even when it was new, this game's graphics were outdated and could be considered little more than run of the mill. If you install the high definition pack that came with Blue Shift (which gives the game a substantial face lift) everything will look better, but it's still just average. Despite their age, the graphics are still good enough so that they don't detract from your enjoyment, so don't worry about them too much.

Sound: 8/10 OF has decent sound, but yet again its weakness is the lack of improvement over the original game. The gunfire, voiceovers, and sfx are fine, but I expected at least some improvement. There is still a glaring lack of music, though when it does chime in it sounds really cool. This is one area of the Half Life franchise that needed to be enhanced, and that just didn't happen here.

Gameplay: 9/10 This is where it's at. The mouse/keyboard config from Half Life has returned in OF, which is a good thing. Control is so easy, you'll have it down in no time, allowing you to frag with no hindrances or interruptions. There is an expanded arsenal featuring a more powerful handgun (w/ laser sight!!!), some awesome new energy weapons, and an M4 with attached grenade launcher. Also, new enemy types have been added which is a godsend, since there was so little variety in the first. As if all of these improvements weren't enough, developer Gearbox proceeded to knock you out with the squad based combat. Featuring three different classes with their own special talents, (Soldier/frag, Medic/heal, & Engineer/torch open blocked doors) you have the ability to formulate attack plans taking advantage of your troops' strengths and weaknesses. Amazingly, this is all done so easily you won't have to manage one of those annoying interface systems to give commands! Sadly, I'll have to take off a point for another new addition, rope climbing, which was awkward and really didn't help the game much at all. Still, I give them props for trying something new. Even if you played Half Life until you were blue in the face, it's easy to have a blast with OF.

Entertainment: 9/10 What a fun game! There's no better feeling in gaming than going into a combat situation with a team at your side, blasting everything in sight. Also, being an officer in a special forces unit sent to silence a base is infinitely cooler than being a geeky scientist who has the mysterious ability to to pick up any gun and shoot it with perfect accuracy. Although I didn't like some of the levels and it lacked all the suspense of the original, it's hard not to concede that OF is a great game. It will grip you until you've killed the last badass in your way like few other shooters can. Awesomely awesome!

Replay Value: 7/10 This game has enough charm to play through one or two more times after you've finished it, but with little more to do than play the included Team Fortress Classic, (which was released stand alone earlier)you have few reasons to keep on fragging. At least it has good length, especially for an expansion pack. Like I said, it's good for a few times through and long enough so that you're getting your money's worth.

Closing Remarks: OF is a great and worthy addition to the Half Life franchise. It adds quite a bit in the way of innovation, while taking nothing away from what made the original so entertaining. If you're an FPS junkie, you'll want to play this for a quick fix of action. There are few cons to this game, and those are are far outweighed by the positives. I'm lovin' it!

Overall Score: 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/03


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