Blue Shift is half-baked Half-Life

Half-Life: Blue Shift
Reviewed On
Available For

It’s not a special edition or add-on: Blue Shift is the official sequel to Half-Life, the awesome first-person shooter series from Sierra. But is it as good as the original? Is it even worth buying for $50? I guess the answers depend on how much you enjoyed the first one.

Although in this sequel players do not necessarily have to know about the original story, it helps. In Blue Shift, players you’re no longer a competent scientist who probably makes enough money to drive home in a luxury car, but rather security guard, Barney Calhoun. Barney is a rather incompetent looser who saves the day. And then he most likely goes home in a ’77 pinto.

Barney works in the same underground Black Mesa Research Facility as is shown in the beginning of the game when you (Barney) get on board the train to work far underground. On the way you pass you’re former self in Half-life, Gordon Freeman, which is the only time I was really amused in the entire game.

In short, the gameplay is weak. First, it doesn’t take long to beat. It only took me about eight hours and that is with me being really, really thorough. Secondly, it’s way too monotonous. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Duh? It’s a shooter game, moron?”

But that’s just it! Most shooter games at least give you something out of the ordinary to keep you’re attention, like great gore affects or cool weapons, or a close-to-realistic plot, but this game doesn’t have any of that. Not even character admiration. Barney’s annoying!

Apparently, Blue Shift was originally created to be additional material for Sega’s Dreamcast. This would mean that it wasn’t intended as regular-strength standalone game but rather a decaf.

This would better explain why the game was boring, simple and monotonous. Kill monster, two clicks, next. Eight hours later I was watching TV.

The game also has a lot – way too much – of jumps and hops and climbing that became more annoying then fun. Why do these games always have those stupid obstacles? It’s pretty obvious that this was originally designed for a console. PC gamers hate those jumping-type puzzles. I suspect that many console gamers do as well.

On a lighter note, not every aspect of this game is bad. The assault rifle is cool.

The graphics on Blue Shift are a downer even though you will need a video card with at least 16M of memory to make out anything.

I’m not sure what Sierra is thinking. Perhaps they are just tying to squeeze out money from the Half-Life name without having to do anything new or innovative. If you love Half-Life, then you probably will like Blue Shift. If you have been living on Mars and don’t know what Half-Life is, then start from the beginning because the original is way more fun to play.

The one really nice addition to the game is the ability to play 32-person multiplayer battles. I rarely found a server with 32-people playing at one time, but the numbers were in the high 20’s most of the time. I’m not sure how they eliminated lag issues, but I was only lag-killed about twice in over 50 extended games.

The game also comes with Half-Life: Opposing Force, so if you have not picked up that title, then you are basically getting two new games in one.

In total I give Blue Shift 2 and 1/2 Gin Gems for peaking my interest, yet like the game’s main character, it ultimately delivers a slightly sub par performance.

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