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SummaryGood game, but could have been better
The GoodIf you are a true Half-Life (HL) fan like me, you should have remembered seeing all those security guards around the Black Mesa Research Facility, and using them to gain entry into many restricted areas. You might have also remembered that at the very start of the original game, you saw a security guard on a platform while Freeman was riding the tram to work. His name is Barney Calhoun, and it is he who you play in HL's second add-on. You board the tram a few minutes before Freeman and make your way to the platform, and as soon as another security guard lets you in, all hell breaks loose.
Everything looks spectacular as it did in the last game, with breathtaking indoor and outdoor scenes. It is nice to see a food court and arcade, although you are unable to get to it unless you use the “noclip” cheat. I also enjoyed looking at the labs and offices. The graphics can be compared to the original, with gadgets on the walls while you are exploring office complexes and science labs. Blue Shift (BS) comes with a “High Definition Pack” which will change the way the NPCs look like. Now every security guard in the game will look handsome, rather than looking pale and sickly. The HD Pack can also be applied to the original game, as well as Opposing Force (OF), its other expansion pack.
BS is still infested with the same aliens that I loved in the original, including the Houndeyes. I still like the way that they send out shock-waves, and the sounds they make when they are about to do that. I also like the Vortigaunts and their dying sounds. If you have forgotten, the Houndeyes and Vortigaunts and all of the other aliens you encounter come from a planet known as Xen, which is the planet that you will teleport to at some point in the game. Although BS uses the same soundtrack as OF, I never got tired of listen to it. It adds to the game's atmosphere.
I like the way that you don't need to install HL first. This is the first expansion pack from Sierra, and possibly other game companies, that doesn't require the original game to function. You will save a fair amount of disk space by doing this.
The puzzles can be challenging. If you don't look hard enough, you won't be able to solve them at all. I remember being stuck about the fourth mission, and during this mission, you have to free a scientist who is trapped in a train's cargo. It took me about a day to figure out how to free him.
The BadBS looks to be missing some features that were present in the original plus OF. First, Calhoun has a limited arsenal than Freeman. Although you are transported to Xen at some stage of the game and see alien grunts and others using their own weapons, you won't have the opportunity to use them yourself.
I always thought that BS has no hazard course like the other two games did, but it turns out that I was wrong when I played BS a second time. The hazard course in Blue Shift doesn't introduce you to new skills, with the exception of controlling the rail-car at the end. Unfortunately, riding a rail-car just isn't something you do in the actual game.
The game is far too short. Although the original has 11 or so missions, this one has about eight. There are no new enemies or bosses, and it is so short that you would probably complete the game in a day.
And what happened to G-Man, that mysterious dude that graced the other two games, as well as much of the Half-Life 2 era? He is only seen at the beginning, and not throughout the game and in the end. It makes me think that his tram crashed shortly after you saw him.
The Bottom LineIn BS, you have the opportunity of playing as one of the security guards, who goes to work one day the same way that Freeman does. The aim of this game is to get through the different chapters, shooting aliens, and solving tricky puzzles that get you from Point A to Point B. The weapons are the same as Freeman's standard arsenal, although it would have been nice if Calhoun also had access to the weapons that most aliens use on Xen.
The game comes with a HD pack, which not only upgrades the graphics to make everyone look more manly than they looked like without it, but makes the weapons look impressive as well. As I mentioned earlier, BS does not require the original game to run, as it already includes the engine. This would save up lots of disk space by not having two HL games installed at the same time.
BS is a good game, the last of the old HL era. It is a shame that this was rushed. The game is rather short, and consists of about six missions. Calhoun's arsenal is limited compared to both Freeman's and Shephard's. There is no new music in the game; the soundtrack is the same as that of OF, and the G-Man is sadly missed.
I enjoyed the first two HL games. Both of these games allowed you to teleport to Xen, which has breathtaking environments, but only the original game has you defeating a huge baby, which I found funny. I think that the first game is no match for OF as that game offers so much more. I got to experiment with advanced military weapons, chose which scientists and security guards live or die, swing across platforms using pods attached to the walls, and defeat an enormous monster at the end of the game. Being a HL addict that I am, I would play BS just for nostalgia's sake. I have the original versions on CD, but these won't run on my current system without any problems. Thank god for Steam.