Review by BigCj34

"Feeling blue, Barney?"

If you play PC games and have never heard of Half-Life, God forbid you. Back in it's release at the end of 1998 it was revolutionary to the FPS genre, setting a unique atmosphere and always kept you on the ball throughout the game, narrating the story in first person instead of cut-scenes. The Half-Life engine has equally been successful, being used for mods such as Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat, while two expansions have been released, Opposing Force in 1999 and this one, Blue Shift in March 2001.

Blue Shift was originally planned to be released as an exclusive expansion for the Dreamcast, but was cancelled weeks from released when Sega discontinued it, being released as a standalone product on the PC bundled with Opposing Force. The improved graphics engine was taken to the PC, known as the high-definition pack, significantly improving the polygons in the models.

In Blue Shift, you're back in Black Mesa, playing the role of the ubiquitous Barney Carhoun security guard, in an attempt to escape from Black Mesa, following on from the Resonance Cascade, which occurs, just when you're going down in a lift. You have to battle through the masses of aliens and the U.S. marines (just because they were friendly in Opposing Force doesn't mean they still are now) to get the hell out of Black Mesa!

For those who have played Opposing Force, you're going to be disappointed with Blue Shift, as there's very few new elements added since Opposing Force and the original. There's less weapons available, as are the enemies. The only new additions with Blue Shift are a scientist, called Doctor Rosenburg and more unseen areas around Black Mesa. The gameplay is more of the same from the original and Opposing Force, but more like the original in terms of puzzles, and less combat intensive than Opposing Force.

The weapons on offer are at best limited, but when you look at the limited amount of combat in the game, it probably wouldn't matter in the end. The weapons are similar from the original, with a crowbar, pistol, revolver, the MP41, shotgun, rocket launcher and the grenade. No crazy alien artefacts, no stun darts, that's it. The enemies themselves are limited, being typical enemies from the original Half-Life; none of the new ones from Opposing Force are included.

Blue Shift aside from the lack of innovation is way to quick to complete. It would probably take you a weekend to complete, at the most. Blue Shift certainly doesn't lack challenge; that's present and the puzzles are always welcome. Bt once you've overcome them you'll find yourself nearing the end of the game and wondering “is that it?” The other problem with Blue Shift is the lack of multiplayer, but given the weapons are much the same as Half-Life, and the Barney Couhan model is available to choose on HL: Deathmatch, it hardly matters.

One of the reasons for having Blue Shift when released was the High Definition pack that came with it, which would improve the appearance of the models in particular and changes some weapons. The new models certainly looks better, giving a less flat feel, but overall, it doesn't do a huge deal.

The graphics on Blue Shift look nominally better with the High Definition pack, removing the flatness of the models and enhancing the appearances of the enemies. The graphics do look dated, even when released, with everything being square and many flat textures everywhere. The audio is limited, with very few tracks played typical Half-Life sounds for the rest.

Graphics Classic Half-Life graphics, but with the HD pack things look notably better. 7/10
Sound Good effects but limited music, with no new tracks 6/10
Gameplay Fun and puzzling at times, but feels boring after two games of the type 7/10
Length A weekend anyone? 4/10

Half-Life: Blue Shift is not bad game by any means, it plays just like Half-Life, but feels old and you wonder what the point in it is. Blue Shift is way too short, and just that bit stale. Blue Shift can be downloaded through Steam by registering a Half-Life CD key you can download Half-Life, Opposing Force, Blue Shift plus Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat. Blue Shift is a game that's fun for one night, but when you've completed it you'll have forgotten it. I could strive to remember what happened when I wrote this review. 6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/26/06

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