Ten-Hut! Welcome to the Half Life: Opposing Force Review post, private! We’ll be reviewing this game, why it’s a good expansion to Half Life 1, and what makes it different from Half Life 1! Now listen up, private, you’ll be reading through some very interesting sentences here, so make sure you read them all. Understood? I can’t hear you! (Okay I’ll stop now.)
Hotel Lima: Oscar Foxtrot
So Half Life: Opposing Force is an expansion pack for Half Life 1, developed by Gearbox Software and released by Valve Software on November 1, 1999. Opposing Force follows Corporal Adrian Shephard, a US Marine and a member of the HECU (the army guys in Half Life 1). He and his team had been sent on an undisclosed mission to the Black Mesa Facility (the setting of the original Half Life). But things go wrong quickly as he finds himself fighting to survive and escape the facility, all while being attacked by Xen aliens (the original aliens from Half Life), and a new, mysterious alien race, Race X.
This time, since you’re a marine, naturally you are allied with the other marines scattered throughout the facility. Some will even heal you and some will break down doors for you to progress. The main antagonist is the aforementioned Race X, a new race of aliens unrelated to the Xen aliens, which you’ll still encounter in this game, although not as much as the Race X.
What blew my mind when I first played this game is the fact that Gordon Freeman’s (the protagonist of Half Life 1) story coincides with Adrian Shephard’s story. I believe Shephard went in at the same time Freeman first met the marines as enemies. They never did meet up face-to-face though, which was a missed opportunity, in my opinion. But still, this blew my mind when I first played it.
The G-Man is back!
Remember him? Yeah, he’s back! The G-Man apparently seems to have an interest in Shephard as well, as while playing him, you will see G-man watching you in out-of-reach places. In some instances he even directly interferes with your progress. He seems to have other plans for you.
Until now we don’t have any idea where Shephard is, or what’s he doing these days, as the G-Man trapped him in some sort of void in stasis after Opposing Force, apparently “awaiting evaluation”. The G-Man left him there and went back to creepily watching Gordon after Half Life 1.
There’s a lot of guns in Opposing Force. Almost all of them are the guns you see in the original Half Life, y’know, the usual. The pistol, the SMG, the shotgun, the rocket launcher, grenades, and the remote explosives. The new guns, which may I say are my favorite among the bunch, include the Heavy Machine Gun, a Sniper Rifle, a Desert Eagle-esque pistol(very nice), and a combat knife.
While Gordon’s trademark weapon is the crowbar, Shephard’s trademark weapon is the monkey wrench. Common everyday tools are the norm for badass protagonists.
Just like Freeman, alien weapons are also available for Shephard to use. You can equip an alien that shoots out green balls that explode. They behave like a cat, for some reason. He can also equip a roach that shoots electrical bolts. Weird. The best one of all, is an alien gun that functions like a grappling hook. It’s hard to believe, I know, you just have to play the game to understand what I mean. 😉
The new (and ond) aliens on the block
So, Race X. Who are these new aliens? Well, nobody knows for certain, except that at some point, when the scientists at Black Mesa discovered Xen, they also discovered another dimension than that of Xen. Since these aliens were largely unknown, they were designated with the name Race X.
Their purpose was very straightforward: Arrive, Assimilate, Leave. Basically they started slaughtering all living things that they encounter, including the Xen aliens, to assimilate Earth’s natural resources. They will do this through the Gene Worm, a large, grotesque, monster, which is the final boss of this game. Obviously they didn’t succeed as Shephard stops their plans by killing the Worm, and with the destruction of the Black Mesa Facility after the game ends, it highly likely that their only entry point into Earth was destroyed as well.
Let’s not forget the old, OG aliens, the Xen aliens. They are only encountered in the earlier parts of the game, as they don’t really play a huge role in this game.
The new (and old) not-aliens on the block
Besides the aliens, you’ll encounter the scientists, albeit they’re distrusting of you since they think that you and the marines were sent there not just to protect the facility, but to silence the witnesses. But they will still follow you if you command them to. You’ll also encounter your fellow marines scattered throughout the facility. They’re your allies, of course, but you can make them an enemy, and I think you know how. 😉
Also, the Black Ops return from Half Life 1 (I haven’t discussed them there, I think). They’re the secondary antagonists after the Race X aliens. They were sent there to clean up the mess the marines failed to clean up. Caution is advised as they are very efficient killers, and will wittle down your health through stealthy hit-and-run tactics (the female variant) and through tactical fighting (the male variant). They’re also very annoying to deal with. You’ll find the Black Ops and the Race X aliens fighting as you journey through the facility.
Same place, different time
As I’ve said earlier, the game takes place in the Black Mesa Research facility, the same facility where Half Life 1 happens. You get there when Freeman is already halfway through his story, and you only see him once. You don’t even get to meet him. You just see him doing something and that’s it.
You also get to visit some of the places Freeman also went through, but the game largely takes place in other parts of the facility, some not known to even exist in the original game, which is cool. It gives you a picture of just how big the whole facility is. This also blew my mind when I first played it.
You will also visit Xen, even though only for a short time. Which was a bummer. I was hoping I could at least see Race X’s homeworld, but beggars can’t be choosers.
As with the original game, I highly recommend Opposing Force. It still has the spirit of the first game into heart, it feels like a proper Half Life tie-in, the locales were great, gameplay is superb, the AI was decent, the new alien designs were great, and the protagonist was well liked. He even developed a following of his own, and we continue to wait for the next chapter in Shephard’s story. I just hope Valve revisits this guy, the stories they can create with him are endless. And with Half Life: Alyx released, I am really hoping Half Life is put back into the spotlight after almost 2 decades.
Want to play this game?
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Got any other discussion for this game? Sound them off in the comments below. If you want to read what I think of Half Life 1, click here! Thanks for reading!