Blue Shift: Half Life’s Guard On Duty

Half Life Blue Shift Source of All things Blue!

It’s time for your blue shift! Kidding aside, I think you’re wondering: Why are my posts mostly about Half-Life? Well, there’s this little game called Half-Life: Alyx, that was released last March 23, 2020. It’s just the best VR game ever made! As you can probably tell, I am a HUGE fan of the franchise. And the release of Half-Life: Alyx pretty much confirms that a new Half Life game after Half Life: Alyx is coming. I literally cried when I saw the ending of the game. :'(

Okay! Now, back to the original subject of this post, which is Half-Life: Blue Shift – the source of all things blue! I say that because you’re playing as a security guard this time, who is wearing a blue uniform. And it was his shift when things happened at Black Mesa, so… :p

Why Is It “Blue Shift”, Not “Orange Shift”?

A Houndeye eating a carcass.

Valve Software (Steam version)

Half-Life: Blue Shift is the second standalone expansion pack for Half-Life, the other one being Half-Life: Opposing Force. Half-Life: Blue Shift was developed by Gearbox Software (who also did Opposing Force) and was released by Valve Software on June 12, 2001. This game now follows Barney Calhoun, a security guard for the Black Mesa Research Facility.

After going to what was thought a normal (blue) shift, things suddenly go awry as the Black Mesa Disaster happened, known as the Resonance Cascade. You, as Barney, must traverse through the facility in order to escape disaster, all while being attacked by the HECU Marines, and the aliens from Xen.

This game, just like Opposing Force, also coincides with the original Half-Life’s story. Again, this blue (get it?) my mind when I first saw it. You will also encounter Gordon Freeman during Blue Shift, albeit not directly. One of the things that REALLY blew my mind, is that the very first security guard you encounter, y’know, in Half-Life, when you’re traversing the tram, and you see a security guard knocking on a door, that is actually Barney Calhoun, the protagonist in Blue Shift! You can even see Gordon as he passes you. Talk about mind blown.

Gameplay Blue My Mind

Barney staring down two dead soldiers.

Valve Software (Steam version)

Half-Life: Blue Shift is not really the typical action-packed game. Sure, there is plenty of action. Game play is mainly focused on puzzle solving, from pushing crates to climb up a level, to complex puzzles involving valves, levers, and mechanisms. Which was a fun challenge, as puzzle-solving has been one of the core game play elements of a Half-Life game.

Besides the puzzles, the obvious one is the action elements. Standard game play of any Half-Life game is the first person shooter experience. Which never fails to be entertaining and fluid. They’ve improved the gun play in this game, which feels smoother when compared to Opposing Force and Half-Life, even though there are less guns and less enemies, and the game itself is fairly short, with the game only spanning 8 chapters.

Another edge it has over the other 2 games is that the interaction with the NPCs feels more alive, in a way. It’s like you’re communicating with proper people, instead of the 2 – 3 cloned NPCs you encounter. This is especially true with the first game. With Blue Shift, the AI has been greatly overhauled (in 2001 terms), as the facility feels more alive, with people actually doing stuff instead of just walking around and standing, security guards doing practice shooting, and so on.

The G-Man, Is He Here?

G-Man in a tram.

Valve Software (Steam version)

Yeah, well the G-Man is indeed in ths game as well. Although he’s not really interested in you, so he pays you no mind. You just see him like once or twice in this game. Which was a shame, really. The G-Man is probably too occupied to deal with you so he just let you mozy on about in the facility. He could have done more with Barney. It’s still cool to see him, though!

Aliens And Marines, Always A Good Combination

Seeing two soldiers

Valve Software (Steam version)

A Vortigaunt being hit with a crowbar.

Valve Software (Steam version)

Again, you’ll mostly be facing the HECU Marines and the Xen aliens during your escape from Black Mesa. The marines are hellbent on stopping anyone from escaping the facility, which is part of their mission: to silence witnesses. Barney has to fight through the Marines in order to escape. I think it’s safe to say that they are the main antagonists of this game. Since you encounter them the most times throughout the facility.

You also encounter the Xen aliens, although they’re not your primary enemies, as they are merely there to act as obstacles for you to get through. It makes sense as the aliens were being teleported to Earth by the Resonance Cascade’s effects. Still cool though!

A New Character Emerges!

Rosenberg rescued.

Valve Software (Steam version)

One of Blue Shift’s new thing that it has going on for itself is the introduction of a new character: Dr. Rosenberg, a high ranking scientist of the Black Mesa Science Team. He’s basically the guy that helps you escape the Black Mesa Facility. He’ll lead you through the older parts of the facility (just how big is this place?!) in order to escape.

He doesn’t appear in Opposing Force and Half-Life 1, although he appears on another expansion, Half-Life: Decay (never really played this, as it’s a coop-game).

Bang, bang?

A shotgun.

Valve Software (Steam version)

A pistol.

Valve Software (Steam version)

A submachine gun.

Valve Software (Steam version)

There’s not much guns in this game, just the standard military and security-issued guns, such as the Glock 17 Pistol, a Colt Revolver, the Shotgun, the SMG, the Rocket Launcher, grenades, and the remote explosive. Basically the guns you see in the other two games, without the alien guns. Barney got the short end of the stick right there, but he makes up for it with being an awesome security guard. I praise him a lot because he plays a bigger role in the sequel.

This Facility Is SOOO Big..

The Black Mesa Facility is SOOOO big. I mean, this game didn’t really revisit much in terms of the location of the other games, but frankly, it didn’t need to.

It explores even more of the Black Mesa Facility, including an old, prototype laboratory of sorts.

The whole facility even supports housing for its employees, including a tram system for security employees. I mean, I was just overwhelmed by the sheer size of the facility, factoring in the other 2 games. So wild, yet so awesome. I wish we can explore even more of the facility!

I mean, just look at it.

View of Black Mesa exterior.

Valve Software (Steam version)

View of Black Mesa interior.

Valve Software (Steam version)

View of Black Mesa interior.

Valve Software (Steam version)

View of Black Mesa interior.

Valve Software (Steam version)

So big!

No Further Comment

Valve Software (Steam version)

This game wasn’t as well received as the other two games, but in my opinion, it is still a solid game.

It didn’t add anything entirely new in terms of gameplay or content, but it did add heavily in terms of the characters, the location, and the story in general, as we saw what the disaster looks like from another employee’s eyes.

I would still definitely recommend this game, especially if you’re a huge fan of the series, like me!

Want to get this game? See below!




Any other thoughts and comments about Half-Life: Blue Shift? Leave them down below and we’ll discuss! If you want to read my review of Opposing Force, click here! If you want to know what I think of Half-Life, click here!

Thank you for reading! Until the next post!


Readers Comments (10)

  1. Wow! Talk about a nostalgic game! I loved half-Life, and reading this review, and seeing the screenshots really brings me back! The world size in Half-Life was AMAZING! Seeing as though this game is almost 2 decades old, it’s amazing what they could do back then.

    It’s reassuring hearing that there is going to be another game! I haven’t played a Half-Life game in awhile, and seeing graphics nowadays, I could never get into the old ones anymore 🙁

    BUT-I could definitely get into a new one!! Once a new one comes out, I’ll be looking for your review on it!

    Thanks for the read my friend!



    • Hi Koda!

      Yeah, the first time I saw just how big the world is, it really blew my mind.
      The graphics are very outdated, but personally I don’t mind as I really loved the game.

      There is a new one that came out already, called Half-Life: Alyx. It’s a VR exclusive game though, so it might be a while before I review it.
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. This is an amazing review you got there!

    I am still getting familiar with games, not really used to it but I believe that during this lockdown and with your reviews I will get myself familiarized with lots of game. I will start with “half-life blue shift”! Looks interesting!

    Thanks so much for sharing! I really appreciate.

    • Thank you!

      I do recommend the original Half-Life so you won’t get lost in the story. But this game as a standalone is playable!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Changingworldnews April 7, 2020 @ 2:10 pm

    This is interesting post. Now a days there are so much crazy and interesting games always being released. I remember the days where we were clazy about nitando, Sega, super Mario, morta combat, street fighter and so on. This current generation of games are mind blowing and highly educative too. It does not only concentrate on the fun but also build the IQ of the player. I saw a kid friend of my playing such related half-life game and I was so fascinated about it. And here you are given us this detailed summary of the game. Thanks for sharing. 

  4. Guess what? I’ve never played Half-Life, I’ve never played a virtual reality game. You must be horrified.
    Thing is, I get vertigo when I play these games, something in my wiring makes those spinning vistas swirl and I start feeling nauseous. 
    I’d LOVE to be able to join in the fun with you guys! I’m incredibly jealous (and sad) that I’m missing out on all the fun. 🙁

    As an online gamer guru, can you recommend a game where I control an aircraft, or spacecraft, or something like that? Have you ever reviewed that sort of game, if so, maybe you could provide a link to it?


    • You can play the old arcade games and plug and play consoles I’ve reviewed in another post! You can check that out if you’d like!

      I haven’t reviewed a game like that yet, maybe soon I will! 

      But I do recommend No Man’s Sky! It’s a first person game that let’s you control a spacecraft, in space! This game is a must especially for space lovers. There are ENDLESS things to do. 

      If you’re into aircrafts, I recommend X-Plane 11 Global Flight Simulator or the Microsoft Flight Simulator. These are really great games if you’re into aircraft flying!

      Thanks for commenting!

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