Half-Life: Opposing Force review

You should not be opposed to this.

SHARK GUN! For kids.

Half-Life: Opposing Force is the first of Half-Life’s two expansion packs and follows the events of one of the enemy soldiers (Adrian Shephard) taking place during what seems to be the latter half of the Half-Life story. And it’s a great experience from start to finish despite some notable imperfections.

Because Opposing Force is set in Black Mesa, many of the environments are the same as those found in the original game which is both good and bad; it feels exactly like the original game and at times it is actually pretty cool to be doing something that shows how things came to be in Half-Life (the bridge section of both games provides the prime example of this), it is good how the expansion pack plays off the original game but it unfortunately shows some lack of originality on behalf of Gearbox Software. However, as I said, it is cool to see the same areas and the many links to the original game this expansion pack offers.

As Opposing Force plays the same as the original game it has the same problems in terms of gameplay design. The platforming sections in the game are very difficult and easily the worst aspect of the whole – the jumping physics are difficult to get a hang of as Shephard moves very quickly while standing and very slowly whilst crouching – in fact, difficulty balancing is a problem: the game is not too difficult until around the half-way point, when all of a sudden absolutely everything can (and will) kill you. The other main problem is that you have no real idea of what you’re meant to do throughout, particularly later on in the game, however, this could be seen as a boon for some players as it adds to the confusing atmosphere somewhat that the games seem to strive for.

The enemies from the original game are all back in full force, each one is just as hard to kill as they were the first time round, but in a ridiculous number that at times is completely overwhelming but never impossible; some people might find the game too hard because of this, as the health and armour restoration points are incredibly few and far between, creating extremely tense long stretches where you are just about surviving on a stupidly low amount of health.

However, Opposing Force’s similarities to the original also come with a massive amount of benefits, it means the game is fun; the story is sci-fi craziness at its best and when things work, they work fantastically well and fluidly. This game comes with its own list of new weapons, the two close-range weapons are definitely not the crowbar, but at least they feel different to use and there’s a whole bunch of new alien (living) weapons, and each one is a blast to use and each get their own training section (that can be completely ignored); but what’s best about these living weapons is that Gearbox did a great job in incorporating some of them into the overall game design with some great and clever puzzles.

Half-Life: Opposing Force is a fantastic example of how to do an expansion pack – take what people loved about the original game and add to it classily – it doesn’t really matter that it isn’t an original experience; it’s an expansion to a game, not a sequel. There are several flaws throughout however, particularly the broken difficulty and stress-inducing platforming sections, these do not spoil the experience completely however, they simply dampen it notably.

Opposing Force is a very good expansion to a fantastic game, and any fan should give it a go.



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