"Opposing Force takes the things that made Half-Life great and gives you an equally amazing experience as Half-Life."

Half-Life: Opposing Force is the expansion pack to the game that was labeled "Game of the Year" by more than 50 publications. Now you must think that making an expansion pack to a game like that must be one hell of a task. Well, Gearbox proved that they could easily make an expansion pack to VALVe's Half-Life that delivers the same great experience that Half-Life did, and gives you even more.

You are no longer Gordon Freeman, you are now Corporal Adrian Shephard, hence the name of the game "Opposing Force". In Half-Life a huge portion of the game was spent fighting against the military in your attempt to escape Black Mesa, now you are one of those Marines sent in by the military, but you soon find yourself to be in the same situation as Gordon Freeman. The game starts off a lot faster than Half-Life, meaning that the "disaster" happens a lot quicker than it did in Half-Life. The accident caused by Gordon Freeman has actually already happened, Opposing Force starts after the accident, where the military sends you in to eliminate everyone and everything in the Black Mesa Facility. However the marines encounter their own set of mishaps while they are being sent in. Your chopper is attacked and you crash land somewhere outside of the Black Mesa facility. You soon wake up inside somewhere where a scientist has seemed to have been trying to save some of the marines, however you seem to be the only marine he was able to save. You then head out to escape Black Mesa with your life. Along the way you will encounter a new race of enemies called "Race X". In the beginning you will be fighting the same Xen aliens as Gordon Freeman, however after you witness a certain event from Half-Life involving Gordon Freeman, things in the facility change. You begin to fight the new Race X aliens, and the Xen aliens seem to have all but disappeared from the Black Mesa facility. Most noticeably the Vortigaunts. You may feel relieved that you won't be fighting any military grunts, but it seems like the military was disappointed by the Marines performance and has sent in yet another clean up crew, and you are on the list of things to clean up. You will have to fight against the Black Ops as well as all the aliens, all while trying to prevent the explosion of a nuclear bomb in Black Mesa. The fight for your life has now begun.

Opposing Force keeps the things you loved about Half-Life and seems to have disposed of the things you didn't really enjoy. So you can now be relieved if you are one of the people who detested the Half-Life chapter "Interloper" because there is very little Xen platform jumping involved. There is actually only 1 chapter in the middle of the game where you go to Xen and it is possibly the shortest chapter in the game. And when I say short, I mean SHORT.

There are also very many memorable chapters in Opposing Force, and some very long chapters. The most interesting chapters of the game are definitely "Crush Depth", "Vicarious Reality", and "Foxtrot Uniform". However Vicarious Reality is 100% the most confusing and disorienting level in the game. It is very easy to wander in circles and not know where to go next, but it is one of the most interesting levels because you will discover a handful of new weapons here.

Opposing Force introduces a bundle of new interesting weapons. Most of them replacing the "experimental weapons" of Half-Life. All of the weapons from Half-Life are included in the game multiplayer, but don't be expecting to see the Gauss Gun or the Gluon Gun in the single player campaign. The new weapons you will receive are: Pipe Wrench, Combat Knife, Barnacle Gun, .357 Desert Eagle, M-249 SAW, Displacer Gun, Shock Rifle, and the Spore Launcher. Oh and remember those annoying snipers in Half-Life? Well now you get to be one of those annoying snipers, yes you heard me, you can now get a sniper rifle, although the ammo is limited and it also replaces the crossbow.

The following weapons are replaced with new ones. The .357 Magnum everyone loved from Half-Life is now replaced with a 7 clip Desert Eagle with a laser sighting for pin-point aiming. The Crowbar we all grew to love has been replaced with a Pipe Wrench, and a Combat Knife. The Hornet Gun from Half-Life is now replaced with the Shock Rifle, and your Gauss Gun and Gluon Gun from Half-Life is now replaced with the experimental Displacer Gun. The crossbow is also replaced with the sniper rifle.

The Shock rifle is essentially the same thing as the hornet gun, except that it shoots electric bolts instead of hornets, and it has a max capacity of 10 shots. Like the hornet gun it also recharges automatically, so no ammunition is required. This weapon is an alien weapon. The M-249 SAW if you haven't guess is a severely needed heavy machine gun, that will quickly replace your MP5 (or M4A1 if your using the HD pack) with it's insane power. The Barnacle Gun is a usable Barnacle. Remember those disgusting things that clung to the roof in Half-Life that would try to eat you? Well in Opposing Force you have one that you can shoot the tongue out at people and eat them. The weapon of course has it's limits and it mostly used for puzzle solving (grappling onto biological materials and leaping over ledges) but you can devour enemies with it, including headcrabs and black ops personnel. And finally we get to the spore launcher. The spore launcher is another type of odd alien weapon that seems to be alive, like the hornet gun and the shock rifle, and it shoots spores, it is essentially the same thing as the Rocket Launcher except it doesn't have a laser sighting, but it shoots faster and has a bigger capacity. There is also the Sniper Rifle, but I don't think it needs explaining, besides the fact that it replaces the crossbow in the single player.

One of the best new features of Opposing Force is the ability to control a squad of marines into fierce battles against the aliens and the black ops. However disappointingly there are few chances to do battle in this manner, significantly because you cannot bring your squad with you into many areas, due to their lack of being able to navigate the terrain. However the parts where you do have a small squad (usually 2-3, sometimes 4) of marines are extremely fun and exciting moments of the game. I would have liked to see more chapters focusing on nothing other than solid squad based action.

The Graphics in Opposing Force are exactly how you remember them being in Half-Life. While good for their time they do seem a bit dated nowadays. The HD pack is apparently going to be usable in all Half-Life 1 related games in the coming weeks on steam. However you can install unofficial versions of the HD pack if you wish. Basically, expect a similar appearance as Half-Life, however their are some new models, such as a new overweight donut loving security guard and some new marines.

The music is also essentially the same from Half-Life with a good variety of ambience music and the like, however there seems to be a lack of new tracks. There is also some repeated dialogue with the marines, as they follow you that can sometimes get annoying. Such as the line "Government cover ups were not in my job description" Yeah, I know they weren't but each marine doesn't need to tell me that 5 times each. But don't worry because you won't spend enough time with the marines to want to shoot them in the head. All of the voice acting is well done though.

The value is not as high as Half-Life for a few reasons. One, mainly because all the mods will be made for Half-Life so you don't need Opposing Force. Secondly, the single player is significantly shorter than Half-Life but it is still very fun. The new multiplayer maps and weapons are very fun though, and add some great online fun.

Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Value: 8
Tilt: 10

Overall: 9.5
If you have Half-Life one, you will get Opposing Force as a free game from Steam, so if you have Half-Life and have never played Opposing Force, than you should definitely experience Opposing Force, as it adds more the the overall experience and story and for any FPS fan you should definitely play Opposing Force. If you don't own Half-Life then I suggest that you go and find a copy now, or just order it online from steam. Overall, Opposing Force is a great game and a great add-on to Half-Life and should not be missed by any FPS fan or fan of Half-Life series.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/29/05

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