Written by  :  MAT (177110)
Written on  :  Jul 09, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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True example of better add-on sequel than the original. How's that possible? :)

The Good

I'm still bedazzled to see how this game was so spitted upon and said to be like a easy-to-earn on fame of Half-Life crap. This is not true! Not for a second. I stand to the thought that this add-on is equally interested as Half-Life was a year before this mission disc came out.

For those who remember Half-Life (and who doesn't, right? ;) they know that after that lab explosion, strange and unknown portals started to open, and you, as one of renowned scientists, had to find the way out of this hell-bunker better known as Black Mesa government secret facility which was way beneath the surface. The reason I liked this game so much is for the story -- it was the first FPS that actually gave you time for adventuring beside just shooting around (by the time, I didn't play Outlaws which is definitely one of the first shooters with great story, not to mention soundtrack). And eventually, when you finally reached the surface, the fire was open on your fella scientists, guards and you. All points that soldiers for some reason got the orders to shoot at anything that movies, no matter if it's human or not. Now that was a turnover. And now, you're one of those soldiers that you probably kill o'plenty in the original Half-Life.

Time resets, and the game starts as your team of elite soldiers are approaching to the surface of Black Mesa facility. All of a sudden, you see some alien flying 'ship' destroying neighbouring helicopter. Soon after, your own was hit by something unknown and you find yourself on solid ground. That's where you enter the top level of Black Mesa research facility. You see couple of your team members dead, and a scientist trying to revive them... or what's left of them, anyway. Not knowing the surroundings (well, of course that's unfair 'cos you know the whole building inside-out from Half-Life, hehe), your only goal is to stay alive until next orders.

The whole story, which by the way happens same time as the original Half-Life story when you played as Gordon Freeman, is now through the eyes of a soldier, a corporal Sheppard, and no matter how much things can be familiar here, it's a whole new set of everything, and you'll soon discovers that he didn't just see all the same stuff Gordon did. For your fun, only a few basic weapons will be the same as in Half-Life, the basic gun, shotgun, and machine gun, other weapons are all new, with emphasis on many alien weapons that will quite surprise you with their usage. The music is like in a prequel, only a few time appears when it's supposed to be 'suspense' and lasts like 30 secs or so, but with great sound and atmosphere in the game, it looks even more real.

Now, if you're playing a good-guy, and are familiar with the story of the original, you won't have to shoot innocent scientists and/or Black Mesa guards, as some of them will even be more usefully alive, especially for opening some doors and stuff like that. Actually, I think you can even stuck if you kill a guard that needs to open a door for you, so you'll sometimes have to protect him and clean the way to safety for him. But now you'll have much heavier fire support, as soldiers with lower rank can accompany you, and some of them have pretty much great firepower. Also, there are medics that can heal you or the other soldiers, but not with infinite medkits. And engineers can use their blowtorch to cut through some solid metal doors but as medics, they're only armored with a pistol so protecting them can sometimes mean saving your own life.

Most of aliens you encountered in the original are the same, with same way of attacks, but there are some additional that Gordon was lucky to pass them. But additional aliens stand for additional alien weapon arsenal, so now you can find alien ice-gun which will pretty much freeze every foe, or if you remember those tentacles that are hanging from the ceiling waiting to grab on something, you'll have a piece of equipment which you'll be able to use to glue on some harmless alien lifeforms and by that, whip yourself to the other side of the pit or whatever, like we only had the pleasure to encounter in Indiana Jones related games. Also, there will be some heavy automatic weapons and guns, or you can just grab some mounted turret and wipe out the incoming threat on global scale :)

Also, when you played as Gordon Freeman, you fought many enemies that weren't alien lifeforms. Now, you'll see it's not only military that gave you the headache, as those sniper terrorists and unknown soldiers will face you in this game as well. Only now you may be able to find out a bit more about that. Oh, and sweet for the last, as much as it was easy (once you know how to do it) to kill the big bad alien in the Half-Life, the one here is even more dangerous, but can be eliminated in merely few minutes once you figure how :) If there's a thing I like, that's the easy (but hard on first look) end.

The Bad

Let's see, since they managed to make a simple add-on with the quality and playability as the original Half-Life, I think that speaks for itself. Usually, add-ons are something to make money on, and don't have much of a story or new stuff. This game, however, is filled with new stuff, new aspects of playing, new strategies, new foes, new weapons, new tracks and the whole new story. I don't care if they ever make Half-Life 2 or not, but I'm pretty happy to play as many as they make add-ons if they will keep the same quality as this one, or the Blue Shift which I'm looking forward to encounter :)

The Bottom Line

If you liked Half-Life and the story seemed short from that side, try this game and see what was happening for some poor military corporal who got into even nastier positions and traps then our fella scientist. You need original Half-Life game to play this add-on, so it's assumed you already like Half-Life game (as far as I know, whoever played it liked it so far) so this extension will be like extending already short time of the original game, and with more new stuff then you imagined add-on can have. This isn't just a simple extension with kill-all-on-screen strategy, but brings you complete new point of view and complete new story. It's as if this game was the original, and the original Half-Life was an add-on, it wouldn't be much of a difference, so if you like HL, play it, if you weren't too keen on HL world in general, skip this one and try Deus Ex or something else.