Half-Life: Blue Shift

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North American box art.

Half-Life: Blue Shift is a first-person shooter developed by Gearbox Software and published by Valve for Windows on 2001-06-12 and then ported to Macintosh and Linux. The game is set in the Half-Life universe and the game tells a side-story of what occurred elsewhere in Black Mesa during the events of the first Half-Life game. You play security guard Barney Calhoun who tries to escape from the collapsing research facility after the resonance cascade.


If I recall, I bought a collection of all the original Half-Life games when they were on sale on Steam, but it was only after I beat Half-Life 2. I still enjoyed the game, but was certainly not as impressed at the lower-quality graphics and weaker physics engine as I would have been if I played it when it was released.


I own this game on Steam and have beaten it at medium difficulty.


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5 5 4 4 4

Best Version: Windows (not Steam)

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • Watching the effects of the resonance cascade through the eyes of the other occupants of Black Mesa is really interesting and gives you a new perspective on the game's story line.
  • Barney's auto-aiming is a nice addition that makes him seem like a more accomplished marksman than Gordon Freeman.
  • There are a couple scripted encounters that showcase how dangerous and ruthless the aliens (and the military) can be.
  • I like the addition of being able to drag and pull boxes and barrels to solve puzzles.
  • The section Power Struggle has a couple clever puzzles (but also some dead ends that confuse the player).
  • Most of the good points from the original Half-Life hold true with this game.


  • There isn't much new to this game. There aren't any new weapons to use (you only get some of weapons from Half-Life and nothing from Opposing Force). Instead of a HEV suit, you get armor, which is dull. There aren't any new enemies. There are only two new NPC skins: the fat security guard and Dr. Rosenburg. Because of this, the game feels less like an expansion and more like a level mod.
  • By 2001, the GoldSrc engine was starting to look a little weak. Now that more of their target base had upgraded their computers, the designers could have pushed it a bit further with more detailed models and higher resolution textures, but the engine still looks like 1998.
  • The visual range of enemies is shorter than your visual range. This means, as long as you keep your distance, you can see (and shoot) enemies without them shooting back or ever even moving toward you. In most places in the game, the hallways are too twisty for this to be beneficial, but in long corridors and large open spaces, you can take advantage of this problem.
  • Although the new mechanic of pulling crates and barrels is nice, it's only utilized a couple times, and it's quite difficult to control properly.
  • The final section, A Leap of Faith, is pretty dull and uneventful. A lot more could have happened during the escape sequence.
  • Most of the bad points from the original Half-Life hold true with this game.


  • The game engine has quite a few bugs:
    • For many players using the Steam release, the game won't even launch. I've created a guide for getting it to work.
    • If you click the left-mouse-button while reloading to speed the game along after dying, your character will sometimes be stuck in autofire mode when the game reloads because the LMB is also the default shoot button).
    • When in scripted motion, like riding in an elevator or walking along a path, NPC animation is a quite jittery.
  • The jumping and pushing controls are pretty awful. The double crane puzzle early on took me about 10 minutes to complete, not because I couldn't figure out what to do, but because I was wrestling with the controls. It was so hard to push the crate and barrel in the correct alignment, jump on them without knocking them out of alignment, and get both the cranes at the correct height, all while not falling off the sides. This never should have made it through testing.


Box Art





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