Look at me now, now I guard Black Mesa.
Half-Life: Blue Shift is the second (and last on the PC) expansion pack for Half-Life. As with Opposing force, Blue Shift is developed by Gearbox Software, and takes place during the events of the original Half-Life. This time however, you are in control of Barney Calhoun (the one who owes Gordon a beer), a security guard hired by the Black Mesa Research Facility.
As with the original Half-Life and Opposing Force, Blue Shift is about the escape of Black Mesa after its invasion from aliens. Blue Shift does not deviate too far from what was seen in the original game, offering no new weapons to play with; as was the case with Opposing Force. You get the human weapons to use, indeed, even the crowbar as the melee weapon.
However, because Blue Shift plays it safe, it means you know what to expect in terms of game-play. It plays the same as the original game albeit in a much, much smaller package. It will take most players around three hours to finish the game – short by anybody’s standards. It is perhaps this short length that made the developers play it so safe in terms of story.
The game takes place entirely in two locations, inside Black Mesa and on the Xen border (the alien world). Barney has to assist a scientist in his attempts to fix a teleportation device in order to escape, which requires you to go to Xen and then collect two power cells. It’s fairly interesting, but it does not live up to the high standards of Half-Life storytelling and is over all too soon.
It is a fun game, but it is not particularly difficult and does not contain a boss. Half-Life has great fun with its tricky, weird and wonderful bosses, but Blue Shift is sadly devoid of such niceties. It provides the most basic aspects of Half-Life well, shooting down enemies and solving puzzles is as fun as ever but it is missing the level of difficulty the series is known for.
Half-Life: Blue Shift is a good expansion pack but is the most basic form of the series’ trademark game-play and style. At three hours long, there is little time for innovation – something the game is sorely lacking – and the limited scope of the story is slightly underwhelming. Valve (and Gearbox) obviously played it safe with this game and did not deviate from the form enough if at all.
When Half-Life is played safe you end up with Blue Shift, a good, but not great expansion to a stellar game.