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This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.

Half-Life: Blue Shift

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Blue Shift box.jpg
Half-Life: Blue Shift

Gearbox Software

Release date(s)
  • Windows:

June 15, 2001[1]

  • macOS and Linux:

August 1, 2013[2]


First-person shooter




Windows, macOS, Linux


ESRB: M (Mature)


Sierra Entertainment(previously)

System req

500 MHz processor, 96 MB RAM, and 16 MB video card


Keyboard and mouse






Randy Pitchford


Rob Heironimus
David Mertz
Randy Pitchford
Marc Laidlaw[3]


Chris Jensen

Previous game

Half-Life: Opposing Force

Next game

Half-Life: Decay

Half-Life: Blue Shift is the second expansion pack for Half-Life, developed by Gearbox Software and released on June 15, 2001.[1] Like Gearbox's other expansions, Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Decay, Blue Shift returns to the setting and timeline of the original story, but with a different player character: the ubiquitous Black Mesa Research Facility security guard Barney Calhoun. As Barney, the player attempts to escape the alien invasion caused by the resonance cascade and the ensuing military cover-up.

Blue Shift has now been released via Steam and anyone with access to the back catalog, whether through an old copy of Half-Life or the Silver or Gold packs of Half-Life 2, may download Blue Shift for free.


The Blue Shift package offers the Half-Life High Definition Pack as an option at the time of install. The pack includes updated 3D character, weapon and item models, often increasing the polygon count 10-fold over the 1998 originals. The U.S. Blue Shift release includes a full, stand-alone version of Opposing Force, but the international edition has the multiplayer-only Opposing Force CTF.

Blue Shift started out first as an exclusive part of the Half-Life Sega Dreamcast port. Due to Sega pulling the plug on the Dreamcast, this version was cancelled only weeks away from release.[4] It was originally titled Half-Life: Guard Duty.[5][6] Gearbox then turned the project into a stand-alone product; unlike Opposing Force, it does not require the original Half-Life.

The game offers some new levels and areas of Black Mesa previously unseen in a relatively short new campaign, but no new weapons or enemies, as Opposing Force offered. Aside from the High Definition Pack, the only new content was a character named Rosenberg, a Black Mesa scientist who has his own unique character model and played a major role in the story, and alternate scientist and security guard models wearing civilian attire.

On August 24, 2005, Blue Shift became available for download via the Steam content delivery program.[7] Anyone who owned an old copy of Half-Life, or the Half-Life 2 Silver or Gold packages (thus, having access to the back catalog) could download it for free.[7] Since then, access to Valve's back catalog for free after registering a previously owned copy of Half-Life has been discontinued, and Blue Shift is now sold separately. The High Definition Pack is also available via Steam.[8]



Blue Shift reuses the enemies featured in Half-Life and doesn't introduce any new ones.


The player is able to obtain most of the weaponry found in Half-Life excluding the Crossbow, the Laser Trip Mine, the Tau Cannon, the Gluon Gun, and the Hivehand.

The HEV Suit has been replaced with security guard armor vest and helmet. The player cannot collect HEV Batteries or use wall-mounted Suit Chargers. Instead, the player needs to collect fresh vests and helmets to replenish armor.


Blue Shift received a mixed reaction from critics, holding overall scores of 67.40%[9] and 71/100 [10] on the review aggregator sites GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively. The game has sold around 800,000 copies at retail (this figure does not include later sales on Steam).[11] In a review for IGN, critic Tal Blevins noted that Blue Shift's gameplay "is pretty much what we've come to expect out of Half-Life" by blending action and puzzle solving, stating that the latter "were all logical and well done, although some of the jumping puzzles were frustrating". Though IGN praised the game for maintaining the "epic" feel of the original, Blevins was critical of the relatively short length of the game.[12] GameSpot reviewer Greg Kasavin agreed with many of IGN's criticisms, stating that "it's not that the game is easy so much that it's extremely short" and that Blue Shift "doesn't amount to much on its own terms". In addition, Kasavin described the graphical enhancements brought about by the High Definition pack as "helpful", but noted that "they still don't make Half-Life look like a new game—nor are many of the changes themselves very noticeable".[13]

Other reviews echoed complaints about the similarity of Blue Shift to previous games. GameSpy's reviewer Jamie Madigan stated that "what really pulls the game down is the 'more of the same' factor". Although writing that the game "feels like just a few more levels for the original game", he noted that this is what Blue Shift was designed to be, given its origins as an add-on for a Dreamcast version of Half-Life. Madigan described the single-player campaign as "decent" and commented that the High Definition pack made the game "worthy of consideration".[14] Eurogamer echoed criticism on the game's length; reviewer Tom Bradwell commented that "although I'm hard pressed to criticize what you get, the complete absence of everything we've learnt from the likes of Counter-Strike and everything since is frankly bizarre". Bradwell did, however, criticize the game's artificial intelligence and the occasional bug that caused a player to get stuck on a wall.[15] PC Zone's Mark Hill was more lenient in his comments, praising the game's artificial intelligence as "intelligent as you could hope an AI enemy to be". In addition, Hill praised the game for showing more activity in the base, noting that "a whole world goes on around you, with people eating at a cantina and scientists doing their laundry. The complex is more alive than ever before". Hill also praised the focus "on a greater interaction with scientists as proper people rather than the two or three models that were cloned throughout the facility who kept repeating the same phrases", describing this as Blue Shift's "greatest achievement". PC Zone's review closed by commenting that "as a Dreamcast extra it works perfectly, but as a standalone PC title there's not nearly enough to it."[16]





Half-Life: Blue Shift
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