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”?
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
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?
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
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!
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).
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.
No Further Comment
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!