Half-Life: Blue Shift

aka: Bantiao Ming: Lanse Xingdong, HL: BS, Half-Life: Guard Duty, Hλlf-Life: Blue Shift
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Description official descriptions

Return to the Black Mesa complex in this additional Half-Life storyline. In this module, you play Barney Calhoun, a security officer working Blue Shift who is present at Black Mesa at the same time as Gordon Freeman. Your goal is to try to get out of Black Mesa alive as all hell breaks loose and reality is altered around you.

This version can be played stand-alone and also includes the Half-Life High Definition Pack that replaces most of the Half-Life/Opposing Force/Blue Shift player and weapon models and textures with updated high-res models and textures.


  • ハーフライフ: ブルーシフト - Japanese spelling
  • 半条命: 蓝色行动 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 戰慄時空:關鍵時刻 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

123 People (95 developers, 28 thanks) · View all



Average score: 68% (based on 42 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 127 ratings with 9 reviews)

The Making of Barney Calhoun

The Good
In 1998, a new game who would leave its print on the FPS world is released. It lets control a scientist, Gordon Freeman, in a devastated research center, just after an experiment which turned to be a disaster, allowing an alien race, coming from a world called Xen, to invade the Earth... well, the Black Mesa Center, given the fact that Half-Life 2, released later, told basically the player that the invasion was much extended than believed.

In 1999, an add-on is released, allowing you to play through the eyes of Gordon's human enemy, a Marine whose name is Adrian Shepard. Sent to kill our favorite scientist, his plane crashed. He was trapped in Black Mesa by a certain G-Man (who were watching in the same time Gordon) and had to struggle in order to stay alive.

In 2001 is the making of Barney Calhoun. Barney was the nickname for all the guards in Half-Life. Blue Shift makes Barney an unique human being, one of Gordon's friends, trapped in a lift when the disaster striked Black Mesa. Him too had to struggle for his life but like Gordon (only hope to stop the invaders) and Adrian (only hope to stop... well another alien race), Barney is the only for some scientists for freeing them and making an old machine work. The reason? It was the same given to Gordon: the fact that they were wearing protection. Well, Barney hadn't the famous HEV but still, when surrounded by scientists in white coat, when you have a sort of armor, you have no choice but to go to dangerous locations. If you know what happened in Half-Life 2, you already know that Barney is a leader figure for the Resistance...

Blue Shift is probably the weakest link in the Black Mesa Era. But will I find positive points? Yes.

Storyline, despite being classic, is, in HL universe, important. You're playing a security guard, making it the third point of view of the Black Mesa Incident. And with a new storyline comes new locations, even if some are familiar. Barney is just your average guard but he will become the most resourceful and strongest of his colleagues.

Gameplay hadn't change and I don't complain about that: it's Half-Life, I mean, you have to climb ladders, find a way to kill enemies when your weapons aren't sufficient, you have to be careful when nearing toxic areas and when you're jumping on Xen...

With an established universe like Half-Life, Blue Shift couldn't forget to make some references to the two previous games: you see Gordon in his tramway when you're trying to enter to your department for work (a scene present in the original Half-Life) or just before he's entering in it. You're seeing him in the Sector C, walking to his destiny, you're seeing the famous crystal that will triggered the portals being carried to its final destination and last but not least, the professor you're rescuing is thinking that Gordon will not solve things, that it's a foolish idea to believe in him. Oh, have I mentioned that the last you'll be seeing Gordon is when he's captured by the Marines? Next time, it would be years later, in City 17 train station. Well, Blue Shift is taking place at the same time of the first part of Gordon's story, so, it's normal to have a lot of references to Half-Life. For Opposing Force, the only mention of Adrian Shepard is made by a Marine when throwing Otis, the fat guard, in a pit you're climbing.

Graphics are still the same if you don't install the High Definition Pack. If you do so, the HDP is making the characters less angular, your environment is less sterile and a new skin is given to your weapons. Anyway, Blue Shift's graphics are good if you're not allergic to "old" engines.

Soundtrack is good. Yes, I love HL's soundtrack. It's immersing you in the story.

You don't need HL to make it work. But a lot of gamers are tending to think of it as an add-on instead of a stand-alone and I can really understand why. Even me, I have the same opinion. You'll understand in the next part of the review.

The Bad
Blue Shift, despite enjoying it, has a lot of flaws.

First of all is the famous problem of the flashlight which wasn't working. It's was such a problem when you have to crawl in obscure areas with headcrabs trying to suck your brains out. Well, fortunately, a patch was released for this problem but this is not really funny to discover that you'll be probably lost because of that.

Second is the lack of novelties. Blue Shift isn't bringing something new besides the story. Barney only uses Half-Life's weapons (no Opposing Force did make it) and worst of it, he has less than Gordon. No more experimental weapon, no more crossbow. Then, the enemies are reduced to what Gordon encountered (less the giant boss like Gargantua), so, no Race X from Opposing Force. And last but not the least (for me), soundtrack is good but isn't renewed like in Opposing Force. No new tunes, no new sounds, well, it's kind of frustrating for me who loves soundtrack, particularly when a game set in an universe has a different music than the others.

One huge negative point is the fact that you can't use HEV device for increasing your protection... contrary to Adrian Shepard who can use them, despite not being a Black Mesa worker! It's kind of frustrating for a player not to be able to use something useful for the hero's life.

Well, another disappointment for some will be the absence (safe for the beginning) of G-Man. Well, no more sighting hunt, a trademark of the HL series was put on hold. Has it a particular meaning for the story?

And give me back the nice woman in the training! The guard that gives instructions is too... well, not as nice as her and not as funny as the sergeant in Opposing Force.

Finally, Blue Shift, for a stand-alone, is shorter than the add-on Opposing Force... who was shorter than Half-Life. Five hours of playing (and more if your flashing is buggy) isn't enough for Half-Life. Well, the episodic games set in HL2 universe are as short as Blue Shift but the content is more extended than Blue Shift's. Here, we're in 2001, players were waiting for HL2 and well, they're in the right to expect much more for HL. It was like the game was rushed for giving something to impatient fans.

The Bottom Line
Blue Shift is your average FPS, set in HL universe and showing what happened when you're trying to give something to impatient players waiting for the second part of the series. It could have been a reference but the lack of novelties, the flashlight bug, the lifetime and the useless HEV devices makes of it an average or mediocre game. Yes, I've enjoyed it. But if it wasn't for the story, reference and the intuitive gameplay, I would have thrown it accross my room by frustration. Some players have made their own mod (Azure Sheep), with a guard named Barney (but not Calhoun) and his fiancée Kate, also a guard, trying to survive in the Black Mesa devastated center. Note that Gordon and Adrian are also present in this game and that Azure Sheep is considered by their creators as what Blue Shift should have been.

I don't know if I must recommend the game or not. Being a HL fan, it would a pity to miss Barney's story. But for others, it would be more an average FPS you don't need in your collection. Do what you want and if you're playing it, try to enjoy it.

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2008

The worst parts of Half-Life with a new main character

The Good
Blue Shift places you in the shoes of Barney Calhoun, one of the many security guards you learned to either love or hate in Half-Life. After a great opening sequence (my favorite part of the game), Barney must find a way to escape the facility while killing as many critters as possible. The game plays much like Half-Life, in fact exactly like Half-Life. You'll find the same weapons and enemies so veterans of the original should be right at home. I found it cool to play someone other than Freeman for a change which is probably the games biggest attraction. And there is cool moment where Calhoun's and Freeman's stories overlap which are interesting to see.

The Bad
The games biggest downside is its length, but I don't want to dwell on that because its been said in every other review. Let's just say its short, within the 3-5 hour range, which in inexcusable even for an expansion pack. Blue Shift has a few other problems as well. It doesn't add any new weapons or enemies to the existing Half-Life world. Perhaps even worse it doesn't really add any new situations that the original didn't explore. You're fighting the same bad guys in the same way you did before. While that may not seem like such a bad thing since the original was so good, it seems like Valve just took the most monotonous parts of Half-Life and decided to throw them together. Opening sequence aside, Blue Shift doesn't really reproduce the "wow" moments that the original did. Also, Calhoun, as it turns out, had practically nothing to do with the Black Mesa incident. He doesn't play a major role in the story arc at all. It would have been a much better game if Calhoun's objective was to protect and save some of the research team(seeing how he is a SECURITY OFFICER!!), or protect some of the equipment, that would have made for a much better story.

The Bottom Line
I just played the game for the first time a week ago, and as I write this Half-Life 2 was released 2 weeks ago. So basically anyone who wants to play Blue Shift already has. That said, if you're thinking of picking it up before you play Half-Life 2 or if you're new to Half-Life altogether, I wouldn't recommend it. There is some fun to be had here, if you liked Half-Life, you won't HATE Blue Shift. But really, there's nothing new to do here. I wouldn't expect Valve to make to many allusions to Blue Shift in Half-Life 2 either since it is by far the weakest game in the Half-Life trilogy. So really, in less you're a hardcore Half-Life fan, you can probably sit out Blue Shift.

Windows · by devils102 (18) · 2004

Short, but overall good

The Good
Blue Shift has more story then Half Life, describing and neatly ties up many of the loose pieces left by the original game.

The High Definition package is a welcome sight, updating most models and sounds for weapons and characters to become more detailed and realistic.

The level design is quite good as well.

The Bad
Too short. A normal gamer can complete it in no more then 4-6 hours.

The Bottom Line

My final judgment is that any Half Life fan which would like to know more about the background for Black Mesa, the alternate universe, and the (wormholes?) transporters, should get Blue Shift. Tough I advice playing the original Half Life first, to get the most out of it.

Windows · by Stargazer (99) · 2002

[ View all 9 player reviews ]



The advertising on the back of the box is rife with inaccuracies. * Two new episodes for "the best PC game ever" -- The Half-Life: Opposing Force add-on is not new. In fact, there are some versions of the box with a sticker on the front giving existing owners of Opposing Force a $10 rebate. This rebate, by the way, involves not only cutting up the Blue Shift box but also requires sending in the Opposing Force CD.

  • Return to Black Mesa as the security guard who allied with Gordon Freeman in the original, award-winning thriller. -- There were multiple security guards who interacted with Freeman.

  • 32-Person Multiplayer. Battle opponents from around the world in Capture the Flag and more Half-Life online games. -- This is misleading. While it is possible to play online Half-Life games with this package because it includes the original engine (not storyline, just the engine), there are no Blue Shift-specific games or features except for some additional levels.

  • Includes the Half-Life HD Pack. Automatically upgrade all of your weapons and characters with new high definition content. -- There is nothing technically wrong with this statement, but it leads people to believe that the weapons themselves are upgraded, not just their appearance.


The name of the main character, Barney Calhoun, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to what most fans of Half-Life started calling the various security guards around the Black Mesa complex in both Half-Life and Opposing Force. The reason the fans started to call the guards "Barneys", is because they were usually slow, dim-witted, and not very helpful, which is very much like the deputy sheriff Barney on the old show The Andy Griffith Show.


Blue Shift was going to be the killer app added to the Half Life Dreamcast port, specially since Sierra promised to take full advantage of the Dreamcast's capabilities to handle the new high definition models. The Dreamcast port of Half Life had been in development limbo since 1999 and was eagerly awaited by every Dreamcast owner and his sister until Sierra flushed the port following SEGA's decision to flush the console.

Freeware release

On August 24th, 2005, the full expansion was released for free through Valve's electronic distribution platform Steam for anyone that owns the Half-Life Premier Pack, the Half-Life 2 Silver package, or the Half-Life 2 Gold package.

German version

There are a number of changes in some German releases of the game: * All human enemies were replaced with robots (not when the HD Pack is installed) * All blood (except blood which is part of the level design) and gore effects were removed * Killed scientists don't die but sit on the ground and shake their head * Some cries of fear were toned down


In the beginning of the game, there is an arcade cabinet with the game Prax Wars. This is a little joke by Randy Pitchford. He had been working on the game Prax War at Rebel Boat Rocker for Electronic Arts, but it was never released. The extra "s" was added because people often mistakenly referred to the company as Rebel Boat Rockers or to the Gearbox game as Half-Life: Opposing Force**s. Also, they couldn't use the real name as EA still held the rights.

Information also contributed by NGC 5194, Sciere and Zovni.

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  • Blue Shift UHS hints
    These hints give you nudges before the final solutions are revealed so you can solve the game on your own.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by frin.

Linux, Macintosh added by dukat.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Foxhack, JoonaZZ, Litude, Paulus18950, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added June 25th, 2001. Last modified June 12th, 2023.