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SummaryThe Making of Adrian Shepard
The GoodWhen Half-Life was released in 1998, nobody couldn't predict the real revolution the game started in the FPS World. As Doom, Half-Life was one of the best FPS in all times. So, an add-on was released in 1999, followed by a stand-alone, Blueshift, where you're playing Barney Calhoun, a security guard. Being in 2008, you already know what happened to Gordon and Barney. But what about the hero of Opposing Force?
I'll refresh your mind about the three heroes of the first HL trilogy, set in the Black Mesa Era. Gordon Freeman is a scientist, working for a research center called Black Mesa and without willing it (the same can apply to the majority of his friends), triggered the opening of a portal leading to another world, called Xen. You're discovering that in reality, some scientists did know about Xen and that perhaps, it was planned to have an invasion. Gordon became the only hope for stopping it and having become a killing machine - for survival -, whether it was aliens, Marines or Black Ops, he was suited for the job. Barney Calhoun, a security guard, was working this day. Well, he did not know what or who started this bloody thing but he became an hero by fighting against the aliens and the Marines but only for a few survivors. He was also suited for some dangerous missions given by Professor Rosenberg in order to make work their only chance to escape the center. And finally, you have another hero, who fighted against aliens and Black Ops but who understood that killing guards or scientists wasn't a way for finding an exit to this hell.
This hero, it's the corporal Adrian Shepard, USMC Marine, affected to the HECU unit, specialized in anomalous threats. He's sent to Black Mesa with one goal: kill Gordon Freeman. But his plane was ambushed by aliens. He's the only survivor of his unit. He have to find a way to reunite with others Marines. And when he finds one, well, he's trapped into Black Mesa. Now, it's a matter of survival and finding a way to escape, him, his friends, the scientists and the guards of Black Mesa. What happened to him after is currently unknown. Thanks to G-Man (well if someone wants to strangle him for having taken the bad habit of putting persons in stasis, I give him or her my support).
Being a Marine, even if you have some common weapons found in Half-Life, like the shotgun or the MP5 grenade launcher, you have also the pleasure to see your weaponry increased with a Desert Eagle, a wrench (instead of the crowbar), a sniper rifle (instead of your trusty crossbow), a Barnacle (yep, it's a weapon now), an alien grenade launcher (Daddy's pet), the Displacer (allowing you to go to Xen), a chaingun, a Shocktrooper arm (instead of the Hornet Gun) and a knife. These additions are actually refreshing: Displacer have a good design, the alien grenade launcher and the Shocktrooper arm are fun to use and last but not least, if you love big chainguns making damage, well, you'll be happy.
There are also new enemies or rather a new race: the Race-X, which is difficult to say if they're siding Xen's side or if they're battling against survivors (including Marines), Black Ops and Xen in the same time. You will fear the Pits Drones or the Voltigores (these ones are pretty difficult when being adults). As for the Shocktroopers, well, you will not really fear them but you'll be jealous to see their weapons with unlimited ammo when yours is limited to ten electricity discharges. For the Giant Worm and the final boss, well, as usual, you need to figure a plan to take them out because your weapons had no effect on them. As for the Black Ops, if the female version is still present (you know, the fast women in black), the male version is making an appearance: he has heavier weapons, making him slower than his counterpart but that also means that he can inflict more damage.
That means also new allies: your fellow guys, medic, engineer, soldier but also what the first Marines in Black Mesa were ordered to kill: scientists and guards. Now, it's a matter of cooperation.
You'll perhaps recognize some places (Black Mesa Inbound, you know, your trip in the tramway at the beginning of Half-Life or Lambda Core) but you'll discover others facilities. And shoking truths.
Graphics are still good, despite having more than 10 years of age. Even if it's sometimes angular, you find pleasure to making your way in this environment.
Soundtrack is also as good as HL's. Yes, it's more a military tune but don't forget that you're in the skin of a Marine. I loved the music before fighting the final boss, it was so intense and non-military that it's still one of my favorites tracks for Half-Life.
You don't have the flashlight but you've an infrared vision but sometimes it's not practical, especially when you're in Foxtrot Uniform, in the sewers, fighting against adult Voltigores.
The gameplay is a good one, so why change it? It's Half-Life..., that means shooting, doing some specific actions for progressing and sometimes, well, you have to be careful at what you're doing if you don't want to be blown.
The BadWell, first thing, ladders are still dangerous to climb down. It was the case in HL and it's also the same complaint for BlueShift. So, Opposing Force, being between these two stand alones, didn't correct the problem.
Second thing is the disappearance of the crossbow for a sniper rifle (well, loving the sniping feature, I'm happy to see that it didn't disappear from Opposing Force but the crossbow is a much cooler than the sniper rifle) and more shocking, of the crowbar, the trademark for Half-Life. Well, if you see it in 2008 as a crime, in 1999, I doubt that was really considered as a bad thing. Myself, having played Opposing Force at that time, I didn't considered the change of weapons like a traitor action. Also, the crowbar is associated with Gordon (and in a less measure, with Barney) as Adrian is associated with another set of weapons...
Some players will complaint about the poverty of new enemies. Yes, we don't have to kill anymore Marines. But we got new aliens and new Black Ops. It's an add-on, not a stand-alone sequel like BlueShift (who is a good example of not adding stuff although it was needed in 2001) or Half-Life 2. Anyway, I'll complaint about the adult Voltigores who are my nightmare when I'm playing Opposing Force (well, I don't play it now but I've bought Half-Life Anthology for making it work with Steam AND XP and I can tell you that my fears from 1999 were back. It's like the spiders in Tomb Raider II - I'd play it now that I'd still do nightmares about it).
Another negative point is the Friendly AI. They have the nasty habit to go kill themselves when you're trying to tell them to follow you for being in security.
Well, I already can hear complaints about the GoldSource engine and its angular graphics. In 1999, it wasn't a problem, it was really a top engine. As I've previously stated, you can have fun with these graphics. It didn't bothered me when replaying Opposing Force, as I'm an Half-Life fan having played the game at the time of its release. So, replaying it years later hadn't making me "puke" when seeing the graphics. Anyway, I had perhaps needed to readjust to graphics (like playing Doom after years of "next-gen" graphics).
Like a lot of add-ons, Opposing Force is shorter than Half-Life (it represents 1/3 of the lifetime of HL). But it's surely long enough to keep you attentive till the end of the game. And some passages are difficult (the level Missing in Action is a fine example, as the World Collide one).
The Bottom LineSorry about not reviewing the multiplayer mode but well, I'm not really interested in it (apart for Team Fortress 2). That said, I'll give you my bottom line.
Half-Life Opposing Force, despite its age, is one of the best add-ons never released, like Battle Out of Hell is for Painkiller or Extraction Point for Fear. You must have played if for enjoying the Half-Life Universe and understanding the mod for HL2 The Awakening as Adrian Shepard is the hero. Valve promises us that Adrian will appear in the HL2 era but we're still waiting that G-Man pulls him out of stasis. He's the last of the trio Gordon-Adrian-Barney. HL2 will not be complete if you don't have the three heroes from Black Mesa reunited for the last fight against Combines. It would be a great symbol for the Earth, no?