Anthony's Film Review

Half-Life: Blue Shift
(Video Game, 2001)

While the game can still be fun, it definitely falls short...

Half-Life: Blue Shift is the second Half-Life expansion game, released not too long after Half-Life: Opposing Force. Like Opposing Force, Blue Shift put you in the shoes of a character besides scientist Gordon Freeman from the first game. This time, you are Barney Calhoun, one of the security guards at the top-secret Black Mesa research facility where alien creatures are running around. There's not really a story in this game, because your only goal is to survive.

The game, overall, borrows all of the features of the first Half-Life game. It has the familiar smooth graphics, realistic environments, frighteningly smart enemies, and even the same weapons. Unlike Opposing Force, which has some new things to kill and new things to kill with, Blue Shift makes no effort to put in anything new. It's as if this game features new levels of the original game or is a collection of lost levels from the first game.

Speaking of levels, this is where the disappointment comes in. Opposing Force has fewer levels than the original Half-Life, but still feels long enough to play. Blue Shift is shorter, and I don't mean slightly shorter or even moderately shorter. I'm talking significantly shorter. Basically, Blue Shift has only (get this) SIX levels altogether. That's about one quarter of the original Half-Life game. In fact, I'll even go as far as to say that Blue Shift feels like a long demo of a Half-Life game rather than a full game itself.

That's my verdict for Half-Life: Blue Shift. With a design that doesn't go beyond the original and a length that's ridiculously short, the game easily falls at my marginally negative rating of 5 out of 10. If you're a die-hard Half-Life fan, you'll still like this game, though I doubt you'll consider it as good as the breakthrough 1998 original. If you just want to play the best games in the Half-Life series, certainly go with the original. Play Opposing Force if you want, but definitely skip Blue Shift.

I'll conclude this review with a commentary. Let this game serve as an important lesson for game designers. It's not worth rushing a game for money. You might get short-term revenue from it, but the disappointment of fans can and will affect you in the long run. Better to spend years making a great game than to spend only one year making a mediocre game. Fortunately, Valve, the company behind Half-Life, would do this with the long-awaited sequel Half-Life 2. I have a feeling that my review of that game will be much more positive.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Half-Life: Blue Shift, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.


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