This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.

Half-Life: Blue Shift storyline

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This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.

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Barney Calhoun on the Blue Shift cover.

This article describes the Half-Life: Blue Shift storyline, chapter by chapter.

In Blue Shift, the player takes the perspective of Barney Calhoun, a mid-ranking security guard in Black Mesa, who is responsible for the preservation of equipment and materials and the welfare of research personnel in a cavernous underground sector of the facility.

Hazard Course (optional)[edit]

Holographic assistant for the Black Mesa Hazard Course for Security Guard Training, based on Miller.

The training chapter of Half-Life: Blue Shift is set in the Training Facility. The "Black Mesa Hazard Course for Security Guard Training" trains the player to effectively use their uniform, how to move around and interact with the environment and how to use weapons. Scientists (such as Rosenberg) can be seen watching the player during the training. This chapter was created exclusively for the PC release of the game and is not present in the original Dreamcast version.[1][2]

Chapter 1: Living Quarters Outbound[edit]

Area 8 Topside Dormitories and the Transit System track passing through it.
The fast food court seen during the train ride.

As the game begins, Barney Calhoun rides the tram from the Area 8 Topside Dormitories on the surface, into the underground sector of the Black Mesa Research Facility. Along the way many new details about Black Mesa are revealed; Barney passes a laundromat and several fast food outlets, suggesting that the facility is very self-sufficient and probably houses many of its workers. While Barney is locked outside the door to the Area 3 Security Facilities, he is passed by Gordon Freeman riding in another tram heading towards Sector C in a scene that mirrors one in the original game during the opening chapter Black Mesa Inbound in which Gordon sees a guard locked outside of a door.


  • A soccer ball that fell from the basketball terrain above can be seen under the tracks at the very start of the ride.
  • In the laundromat, a scientist and a security guard are playing a fighting arcade video game, named Prax Wars 2: Dante's Revenge; the security guard eventually loses the game. A second scientist is reading The Mesa Times while waiting for his laundry to be done. Prax Wars is a nod to Prax War, an actual cancelled game by developer Rebel Boat Rocker, on which Gearbox's Randy Pitchford worked. It was announced at E3 1998 as a very promising game.[3]


Chapter 2: Insecurity[edit]

Main article: Insecurity
Barney observes as a Scientist threatens one of his fellow guards.

As a seemingly normal day at work starts, Barney visits security headquarters, including a shooting range and a surveillance room where it is possible to see Gordon Freeman again on camera heading towards the HEV Storage Area. Barney is then sent to help some scientists with an elevator; along the way, he witnesses many incidents foreshadowing the Resonance Cascade, such as a pair of scientists vainly trying to fix a supercomputer. He also sees the G-Man passing by in a tram. After repairing the elevator, the Resonance Cascade occurs, causing the elevator to jam, the cable to snap, and sends Barney and two scientists plummeting down the shaft as chaos breaks out around them. As the elevator collides with the bottom of the elevator shaft, Barney falls unconscious.

Chapter 3: Duty Calls[edit]

South Tunnel access.
HECU soldiers throwing away dead bodies.

Barney regains consciousness at the bottom of the elevator shaft to the sight of a Houndeye eating the body of a fellow security guard. The two scientists in the elevator are dead, and so Barney sets off through the industrial waste areas of Black Mesa to try to find help. Along the way, he gains an insight into the scope of the disaster, and sees a pair of marines dumping corpses into a sewer opening, thus discovering that the military is trying to cover up the disaster rather than evacuate surviving personnel.


At the end of this chapter, a reference is made to previous Half-Life expansion, Opposing Force, as one of the marines grumbles "just because Shephard's team didn't make it, we have to do the crap jobs?"

Chapter 4: Captive Freight[edit]

Harold is saved. Shortly after, he dies.
Rosenberg being discovered by Barney.

Barney reaches the surface and encounters the HECU. He manages to fight through them and reach Dr. Rosenberg. He and a team of fellow scientists were trying to escape until the marines caught them.

Barney rescues some scientists who have been locked in railway cars in Black Mesa's classification yards. One of the scientists, Dr. Rosenberg (who is also a character in Decay), advises Barney that the entire facility is surrounded by Hazardous Environment Combat Unit Marines intent upon killing all base personnel to cover-up Black Mesa's research into extradimensional exploration. The only way to escape, Rosenberg explains, is to use an old prototype of the Lambda Complex teleport; if it works, they can reach an obscure entrance to Black Mesa which (hopefully) has been overlooked by the Marines.

Chapter 5: Focal Point[edit]

Triangulation device on Xen.

Barney and Rosenberg reach an older part of the Black Mesa Research Facility where a disused teleport system is being reassembled by scientists. To make the teleport completely operational, Barney is forced to travel to Xen and activate a device to allow teleportation to happen. Notable in the older part of the facility are older-looking models of health and HEV chargers and the use of hand scanners instead of retina scanners for identification.

The remainder of the game takes place in an abandoned, walled-up sector of the base originally built for research of the first teleport device. Barney, Rosenberg, and two other scientists (Walter Bennet and Simmons) try to restart the prototype teleport. Barney is briefly teleported to a ruined human research camp on Xen to operate a triangulation device, the Focuser.


The name of this chapter comes from the physical term focal point. In optics, a focal point is the point at which initially collimated rays of light meet after passing through a convex lens or reflecting from a concave mirror.

Chapter 6: Power Struggle[edit]

A dying security guard tells Barney how to operate the devices to recharge the battery and bring it upstairs through the elevator.
The activated power generators.

After discovering the teleport had used its entire supply of batteries to transport Barney to Xen, Barney is again forced to go down to a power facility level and find the batteries and recharge them. Barney fights through a team of HECU marines and aliens before he reaches the power generators.

Chapter 7: A Leap Of Faith[edit]

Simmons and Bennet putting the final touches after installing the battery.
Bennet about to escape through the teleport.

Finally nearing escape, Barney helps operate the simpler parts of the teleport to get all the scientists through. Once the scientists escape, he faces some HECU resistance before finally teleporting himself to the other scientists.

Chapter 8: Deliverance[edit]

Gordon Freeman as seen by Barney.
Bennet, Simmons, Rosenberg and Barney on their way to freedom and safety outside the Black Mesa South Access Tunnel.

In this final chapter, the other scientists have teleported to a safe location outside Black Mesa with some cars laying about. Barney also arrives and sees Simmons and Rosenberg trying to fix an SUV and Bennet breaking open a gate with a crowbar, but some kind of discharge has affected him. Barney is glowing green and is teleported to several locations, such as a Xen platform and a storage room in Black Mesa where he witnesses Gordon Freeman being carried off by a group of HECU soldiers to a trash compactor before transporting back to the scientists (a reference to the chapter Apprehension of Half-Life). Barney finally ends up back at the yard with the scientists, no longer glowing. They have fixed the SUV, and Rosenberg expresses his relief, explaining to Barney he is lucky not to have been caught in an infinite loop. Walter pulls the gate open, and the game ends.

See also[edit]


  1. Half-Life: Blue Shift Interview on Stomped (April 6, 2001) (archived)
  2. Half-Life: Blue Shift Interview on GameSpyDaily (May 9, 2001) (archived)
  3. News: Prax War canceled on