Developer: Gearbox Software
Blue Shift official page: http://www.sierrastudios.com/games/hl-hostilewaters/
Didn't we just leave this party?
In Half-Life, you were Gordon Freeman, scientist. In Opposing Force, you were Adrian Shepherd, marine. In Blue Shift, you're Barney Calhoun, rent-a-cop. All that remains is an alien point of view, which Gearbox Software hinted will be satisfied in a PlayStation 2 Half-Life release.
Naturally, whatever story there was in Half-Life, has been beaten to death quite soundly, and given a few parting shots for good measure. In case you're not aware of it, here goes... You, as Barney Calhoun, are an employee of the Black Mesa facility, a top-secret government research center. The most secretive of the projects here is an attempt at developing a teleportation device, and, to your dismay, it works. However, during one trial run the teleporter malfunctions and starts a cascade of events which start with severe damage to the entire complex, and an alien invasion to top it off. The US government sends in a marine division to exterminate all survivors and blow the place up with nuclear weapons. In Half-Life, you save the world. In OpFor, you focus mainly on saving your skin, but manage to save the world along the way. In Blue Shift, all you care about is getting your ass out of the frying pan.
Fortunately for Blue Shift, many people were mistaken when they thought that Half-Life was about the story. Half-Life didn't have much of a story, when you think about it - what it had was delivery. Through the use of scripted events, innovative level design, great use of AI and funky monsters, and a "real world" setting, Half-Life made that playing through story interesting. That is why OpFor wasn't hampered by working with the same scenario, and that is why Blue Shift can get away with it.
Dark and musky, just how
I like my Half-Life
I'll spare you the
joke about being on your knees,
headshot, you know
What happened to that texture?
I really wonder what
happens if you kill him
Blue Shift, unlike OpFor, is a stand-alone expansion pack. You do not need Half-Life to play it, and it comes with the Opposing Force expansion (which you do need Half-Life for.) To help make these old games look better, the graphics for all three can be updated with a High Definition Pack that comes with Blue Shift - a set of improved models that take some of the sting out of playing a nearly 2 year old game. OpFor owners can also get a $10 rebate by sending in their Blue Shift and OpFor receipts.
Finally, it's nice to spend most of the game worrying about yourself for a change, not the fate of the world. While you get robbed of a big fight against a big, bad alien, you get to spend more time fighting the most interesting foes in the game - marines. All in all, it seems like a fair deal at the outset.