Half-Life

Blue Shift

  • Review Date: 2001-08
  • Author: Gearbox Software
  • Genre: Half-Life
  • Rating: 73

Review

Blue Shift is the latest commercial release for Half-Life, and thankfully it is single player. It was only recently announced, and it's hit the shelves quite quickly. So it may be an addon that was not in the making for very long. Unfortunately, it shows.

What is here is very good, but what's missing is the problem. Basically it's Half-Life again, the same Black Mesa facility, but this time playing a different role. Security guard is your job, and it starts off just a normal day at the job, although there have been a few electronic problems throughout the facility. Then the big disaster kicks in as your going down a lift. The lift stops and overlooks a huge room and the chaos below. A particularly well done incident was a security guard unable to stop his transport, explodes through a barrier narrowly missing another guard, and smashes into a wall.

Then the lift your in suddenly starts descending - very fast! Memories of Mexx10 were brought back. A while later you awake from being knocked out as the lift slammed to the ground killing the two scientists also in the lift with you. Your mission begins.

After that particularly well done sequence, there isn't too much scripting or story-telling throughout the game until a large chunk nearing the end. Black Mesa looks the same as in Half-Life. Well designed, a few nice set-pieces but nothing to leave you inspired and amazed. It is a fair bit better than most custom map releases, just not unique.

You then move on to Xen! I never really minded Xen in Half-Life. Maybe because I'm able to accurately press the jump key and navigate my way onto a platform, something which for whatever reason, most Half-Life players had great difficulties with and proceeding to constantly moan about afterwards. There are more jumping puzzles, but they really shouldn't be a problem for the average player. The Xen section was just as good looking as Valve's, the rockery was crafted very well. Also used was a fair bit of water, one particular scene had some fantastic looking waterfalls coming out of cliffs.

When you return to the Black Mesa facility it's basically the end, with just a short finale as you escape in the slipgate. Great story telling and scripted sequences were carried out throughout the game. Your mission is to find the scientists and teleport out of the chaos, but with a few objectives along the way, such as recharging the power generator and turning on the the slipgate technology located in the alien world. It is particularly well done for such a short game.

The gameplay was good. Never anything overwhelming. There are a number of great action sequences, but most players won't have much trouble at all completing Blue Shift. There were a number of enemies not even used. For the first half of the game your main fight is against Grunts, with a few of the weaker Aliens. Then in Xen the controller is introduced. No Alien Grunts or Assassins (which is probably a good thing as I find these enemies very frustrating) but putting the new Opposing Forces enemies to use would have made it much better. Despite being hardly a challenge, it was still good fun.

Unfortunately it only took me about three hours (3-6 is the suggested playtime), which is hardly worth the price. But it certainly is if you go down to your local game rental store and grab it for only a few dollars! Afterall, we've seen free custom maps that are longer. But getting Opposing Forces with it is a good bargain if you didn't already have it.

Overall a fun experience, although not very challenging, with good design throughout Black Mesa and the alien homeworld, all wrapped up in a well told story.