Written by  :  MAT (166392)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by MAT
read more reviews for this game


Perfect asset to fit the trilogy.

The Good

For those that aren't familiar with the 'prequels', Black Mesa is top secret government facility that consists of a bunch of well educated scientists and guards that put their life's safety at most minor priority. Now, you're playing one of those guards, Barney Calhoun. You arrive at your duty by an underground train (pretty much the same as the intro to the original "Half-Life"), put up your protecting suit and uniform, and try to find something to do while another boring day, that mostly consists of playing a puppet to those jerky scientists just because they have B.S. of something, will pass. But something has gone wrong in G section, and since the subway seems to be out of order, you'll have to crawl through some other way in. As we all know, Gordon Freeman and the other scientists had bad luck with some project, and now it's coming back on them. Bedazzled as you can be, you're trying to find the exit from a building hauling infestation of alien creatures.

By no means is this story any less quality than "Half-Life" or "Opposing Force". It's pretty much the same, and actually during the same time, only playing it with another person. Pretty neat thing to use in the further releases of a same game's sequels. This game may seem a bit short to some of you, but in fact it isn't, just because we're familiar with "Half-Life" and we know how to pass some things very quickly and are familiar with commands doesn't make the game shorter, only us faster. I don't find this game much shorter than "Half-Life", but maybe because it doesn't consist of too many places it may be considered as such.

I don't think I need to mention this game has improved graphic, though I really couldn't notice that at first, maybe because I played "Half-Life" some time ago and I thought of its graphic as super-ultra-kewl also, I dunno. Still, when you approach to certain NPC, you can see the difference quite clearly. Not that it makes this game any better than "Half-Life" though, but fits today's standards little closer.

Also, it gives you opportunity to play it no matter weather you own original "Half-Life" or not. It's not as dependent as "Opposing Force" sequel-add-on, but rather standalone version. It also brings a few nice things along, such as HD (High Definition) pack that improves visuals of the original "Half-Life", and "Opposing Force" multiplayer patch.

No matter what you may think of the game as something done quickly to attract masses while the title's still hot, that's entirely wrong. Game may not now be original to certain point, but brings us very nice story and bunch of dialogues and live atmosphere, and what's even more appealing, we are invited back to Black Mesa facility to escape from it for the third time ;)

Now that we mastered jumping and such puzzles that are easy now, but were rather complicated before, we will see some very nice puzzles in the game which quite clearly pull this FPS away a bit making it adventure just as well. For instance, you need to drain toxic water away, and then go in the pool and push barrels that were previously floating so you will easily jump to another side once you refill the pool with lethal liquid once again. It really is a very nice game with a returning us to our past, though experienced players will finish it too quickly and either enjoy that short time they had, or say it's too short and spoil the experience. I say, go get it if you're keen on "Half-Life" titles and want more of the same that differs.

The Bad

Well, game as game alone doesn't have any backward points as I could see it, but it does come with some drawbacks that were expected to be sen in it. I know that "Half-Life" didn't come with some strong background music, but they had some at certain suspenseful points, just remember those chapter starters. But that's not such a bad thing, no music makes you be more aware of the surroundings and stereo sound works quite nicely so you'll know where's the direction of your threat. What's very hard to believe is that there was no single new weapon in this game. Sure, as a commando in "Opposing Force" you had more new weapons than you wanted, but these here are just the same as in original "Half-Life" with exception that even those are not all, the game lacks some very nice weapons even from the original, like that alien-cockroach-bomb, or alien launchers. But guess Barney just didn't get to see all that in his adventure, even though he saw many other things Gordon and Freeman and Sheppard did not.

The Bottom Line

Three years have passed since the original "Half-Life", and yet this game still has the most interesting story as a first-person shooter (I don't compare it to "Deus Ex" or such games with a great stories). First time you were a scientist surprised by your own project gone wrong. Second time you were a sergeant, sent by the military government to make sure noone at Black Mesa survived. And this time you're one of the in-guards caught unready in a day's events. All they could do now is make another game and put you in a role of either those unknown assassins, or one of the aliens ;) It's more than just for a few hours of fun, it's a game to bring you back to known horrifying place and show you what yet you didn't see. This game comes with its own pluses and minuses, and spares you the battle with the final nemesis, but it's by no means less worthy than best add-on ever, "Opposing Force", or originator of the series, "Half-Life". If you're not planning on getting it, then you're probably by accident clicked on the wrong link and are now reading the wrong review.