Made by Gearbox Software and originally released in 2001 as an add-on to Half-Life, Blue Shift is a return to the Black Mesa Research Facility in which you play as Barney Calhoun, the security guard sidekick who helped Gordon out of so many sticky situations.
User reviews:
Very Positive (57 reviews) - 91% of the 57 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Very Positive (2,204 reviews) - 90% of the 2,204 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jun 1, 2001

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About This Game

Made by Gearbox Software and originally released in 2001 as an add-on to Half-Life, Blue Shift is a return to the Black Mesa Research Facility in which you play as Barney Calhoun, the security guard sidekick who helped Gordon out of so many sticky situations.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux

    Minimum: 500 mhz processor, 96mb ram, 16mb video card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection

    Recommended: 800 mhz processor, 128mb ram, 32mb+ video card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection

    Minimum: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.3, 1GB RAM, 4GB Hard Drive Space,NVIDIA GeForce 8 or higher, ATI X1600 or higher, or Intel HD 3000 or higher Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection
    Minimum: Linux Ubuntu 12.04, Dual-core from Intel or AMD at 2.8 GHz, 1GB Memory, nVidia GeForce 8600/9600GT, ATI/AMD Radeaon HD2600/3600 (Graphic Drivers: nVidia 310, AMD 12.11), OpenGL 2.1, 4GB Hard Drive Space, OpenAL Compatible Sound Card
Customer reviews
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Very Positive (57 reviews)
Very Positive (2,204 reviews)
Recently Posted
Slurpee the Unholy
4.2 hrs
Posted: August 30
DISCLAIMER: I've marked this review as "Not Recommended", but a more accurate descriptor would be "Recommended with Heavy Reservations". Read on to find out why.


"Half Life: Blue Shift", a Gearbox Software expansion to Valve's debut title "Half Life", is the first thing I've seen in quite some time to leave me completely unsure how to feel about it.

On the one hand, it's not a bad game per sé. It's got generally the same gameplay one comes to love playing "Half Life", it's got the same gimmick of remaining in full control of the player character, this time around a security guard named Barney Calhoun rather than Dr. Freeman, throughout the entire game with no cutscenes, and it provides a unique perspective on the Black Mesa Incident we haven't seen before in "Half Life" nor in Gearbox Software's previous expansion pack "Opposing Force".

These all sound like good things, but there's a wide variety of bad things about the game as well. Firstly, it's too short. Because I'm a terrible gamer it took me about 4 hours to complete, but it only takes most people about 3 hours. None of the new weapons introduced in "Opposing Force" return, many of the weapons from the original "Half Life" don't return, including the iconic Crossbow. Throughout most of the game, the only enemies players can expect to run into are headcrabs, vortigaunts, barnacles, houndeyes, and HECU soldiers. While other enemies such as bullsquids and alien grunts will occasionally appear, at no point in his adventure will Barney Calhoun encounter zombies of any kind, Black Ops personnel, or any of the new enemies introduced in "Opposing Force". Alien controllers will appear only once, during Calhoun's brief stay on the borderworld of Xen. In a truly shocking display of pure laziness, there isn't even a final boss. Bear in mind here I'm not saying the game failed to introduce an original final boss and simply recycled one of the old ones, which would still be bad but forgivable, I'm saying there literally is no final boss; the entire grand finale is literally just pressing some buttons. In lieu of any kind of variety in enemy encounters (or even enemies themselves), players can expect at least one headcrab to be hiding behind EVERY corner and inside EVERY wooden box. I mean that, by the way; no matter how strapped for ammo you are, break wooden boxes at your own risk.

Enemies aside, the story is weak and uninteresting. Without spoiling anything (although there's hardly anything to spoil), the basic plot is that Calhoun must help the Black Mesa scientists execute a hare-brained plan to teleport outside the doomed research facility. This heavily simplistic story is relayed to the player exclusively through lengthy bouts of expository dialogue from random NPCs whom one couldn't be blamed for wanting to kill rather than listen to. Unfortunately, one of these NPCs cannot be killed as he is an essential character to the story who, at one point, must be escorted by the player to his destination, making "Blue Shift" the first "Half Life" game to feature an escort mission. Expository dialogue, even in excess, can be forgivable if the story is interesting, but here, it just isn't. Again, it's simple and boring.

All of that being said, though, is it really that bad? Sure, the story and the enemies are both overly simplified, but is this really that much of a problem in such a short game? Herein lies my dilemma in determining what I think of this game. Most of my problems with it come from how simple it is, but is simplicity itself necessarily a bad thing? I, for one, am inclined to say no, it's not.

Just to have some semblance of a conclusion, I'll say that if you've recently finished playing "Half Life" and now you just want another fun romp through the Black Mesa facility as a new character with a new perspective on the Incident, then this game won't disappoint you. However, if you'd prefer a full game and unique experience like "Half Life" or "Opposing Force", stay away, as this won't sate you.

Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.4 hrs
Posted: August 29
Is it short? Yes. Does it has any new weapons or enemies from Opposing Force? No. Is it cheap? Yes. Is it worth it? Of course.

It may be very similar from Half-Life 1. But trust me, it has a amazing storyline and good level layout. Same from Half-Life 1 and Opposing Force.

Make sure you get it, you''ll need it to understand 100% Half-Life 2, it's cheap, and it's awesome.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Discreet Noob
3.7 hrs
Pre-Release Review
Posted: August 28
If you like Half Life 1 and its old feel, this is a fun short expansion with more of the same gameplay.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.3 hrs
Posted: August 28
Good Game
Helpful? Yes No Funny
9.5 hrs
Posted: August 28
A short, fun expainsion to the Half-Life series where you play as Barney Calhoun, a security guard working at Area 51 Black Mesa.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
8.5 hrs
Posted: August 26
I didnt get the job to kill aliens and zombies. but I will do it aslong as I'm being paid.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
4.9 hrs
Posted: August 24
Bruh Best Story Line to me as Barney but hate traveling to stupid Zen man...
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.1 hrs
Posted: August 23
Half-Life is a series that has become massively well known amongst gamers, and it is no wonder why when the games are just so damn fun, Blue Shift is no exception to this.

Blue Shift allows you to take the role of a security guard at the Black Mesa facility (Barney Calhoun)
Blue Shift has several easter eggs based on the other two expansions Opposing Force and Decay (Although Decay wasn't released at this point it shows one of the main characters named Gina Cross)
In true Half-Life fashion enemies are placed in such a way as to catch you off guard if you run in guns blazing through every door.
Probably some more but I can't think properly right now, far to hot where I am.

The game is very short with someone as rubbish at first person shooters as me managing to beat it in about 3 hours (I left the game running when I went for lunch resulting in it displaying more hours than I actually played), and someone who is experienced probably managing in much less time, you can't really complain though as it is very cheap.
Some aspects of the game are very vent heavy, or in Xens case, small tunnel heavy.
It feels like they were far to heavy handed with Headcrabs in the vents with one vent sticking out to me as every corner seemed to have a headcrab.

Honestly, though this game has its flaws, it is extremely fun to play and definitely worth checking out if you haven't already, just don't expect this to have the same play time as Half-Life 1, it is just an expansion after all.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.3 hrs
Posted: August 21
I don't give a ♥♥♥♥ what anyone says, this game IS canon to half-life 1.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.1 hrs
Posted: August 21
If you can cope with the low-res graphics and basic gamplay, this is an 'ok' addition to the original Half Life series with no new elements where you play as a security guard. Better played 10 years ago though.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 10
you play as a security guard at cern
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
21.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 20
its tough. it was released in 2001 but didn't really make as much of a game as Opposing Force did in my opinion. its cool cause you play as Barney Calhoun and you get to see more stuffs that you didn't in the original, but its still the same except you get Helmets and Kevlar instead of Batterys or Chargers, but the same weapons are used again. and in Teaser, you even got a handheld Flashlight. but that was cut. and it seems the vortigaunts have a differant design in the screenshots, but the same stuff was carried over. no Opposing Force stuff was recycled, except Otis Laury appears 3 times, but you cant have him with you. thats the thing though. you are completely alone. and the guards are all dead when you meet them. find them i mean. if Gearbox really put some effort into this, it would have made a game as good as Opposing Force. overall, a 5.3/10. room for improvement. but i still recomend it as another item to collect in the Half-Life series. hope i helped.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: August 4
Well... I did enjoy it... a lot, actually. Blue Shift is an expansion taking place from the beginning of HL1 to the chapter Apprehension, where Gordon is captured by HECU forces. But wait, that was still somewhat early in the game, right? ...Yeah. We'll get to that.

First, I just want to address the things it really got right. Blue Shift feels like it should-- a complete expansion to the original. As a security guard, you start off the game first locked out of the office as Gordon slides by looking at you slightly amused, then stopping at the firing range, and watching the Anomalous Materials experiment get prepared on CCTV's. There's an extreme attention to detail spanning most of the game, and it feels like Gearbox always kept in mind what was happening on Gordon's side.

It also does an excellent job of tying together storylines. While interactions are rare between the stories of Gordon (HL1), Barney (BS), and Adrian (OF), there are constant references and signs where someone who played the other games will recognize key events. It's definitely interesting to see HL1's plot rewritten from a simple linear story to a whole universal event, now being explored by three radically different roles.

On the side, the actual game is... solid. The levels are decent, the story is good, and overall it feels like more HL1 minus the benefits of the HEV suit, instead opting for standard body armor. There just isn't that much different from HL1 once you get past the blue HUD and story. Thankfully, the levels are a completely new deal and while you'll cross paths with key events, the game still stands on its own without constantly relying on you to connect it to the base game. It's not the kind of game where not knowing the original storyline leaves you completely clueless-- Barney discovers the HECU's mission on his own, he goes through his own escape and survival, and he meets with other scientists in his escape.

Still, the biggest flaw I can point out is its time. Three hours, total. I'd like to say I got lost or stuck twice. This is by no means a long game. Yet, by the end it does start to feel like it overstays its welcome anyway. It even follows up a teleporter and alien encounter with a fetch quest for more batteries. FETCHING! While the pacing in the beginning is exactly as it should be, I feel like the last stage of the game simply dragged on for far longer than it should have. Still, while not difficult in any sense of the word, the finale is definitely alright for a small expansion-- rather than a boss battle, you more or less follow your fetch quest with an interactive cutscene, which even foreshadows the "Red Letter Day" in HL2 to an extent.

Perhaps the biggest thing I can say against Blue Shift, though, is that it has no multiplayer. This was criminal. Absolutely unacceptable. For shame!

So yes, I will recommend it, but rather half-heartedly. You'll have fun with it, but HL1 and Opposing Force have much more to offer. They're both more interesting and better executed than Gearbox's second expansion ended up being. Not to mention, it offers much less in content than HL1, which went on for around 9-15 hours plus multiplayer deathmatch, and Opposing Force, which while also somewhat short featured an overhauled multiplayer with CTF and more weapons. Play those first, and when you see a good sale or don't have other games you can get for this price, go for it.

As commanderox pointed out, you may experience a gamebreaking bug in the opening chapter that prevents you from equipping your body armor and helmet (which triggers an event). I didn't run into this personally, but a restart should be enough to fix it.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 28
A short, fun expainsion to the Half-Life series where you play as Barney Calhoun, a security guard working at Area 51 Black Mesa.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 10
security guard with pistol has to defeat aliens and soldiers.

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3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 15
I'm Rick Harrison, and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man and my son, Big Hoss. Everything in here has a story and a price. One thing I've learned after 21 years - you never know what is gonna come through that door.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
259 of 266 people (97%) found this review helpful
157 people found this review funny
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 9, 2014
The cupcake version of Half-Life.
Play as Barney Calhoun and show United States Marines, Black Ops Ninjas, and inter-dimensional mutants that real badasses wear ties and make $26,000 a year.
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121 of 128 people (95%) found this review helpful
70 people found this review funny
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 24, 2014
You get to play as a mute security guard who wrecks havoc upon firearms specialists and aliens from an alternative dimension with a crowbar, and owes a mute theoretical physicist a pint.
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53 of 54 people (98%) found this review helpful
23.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 16, 2014
Most people probably won't play much if anything of Blue Shift, so here's what you need to know for future installments if you skip this one: You play as Barney and nothing he does in this game is ever brought up later in the series. Yeah, Barney is sort of a main character in Half-Life 2, but this game manages to not get mentioned once throughout that one. Kind of weird, huh?

The thing about Blue Shift is that it isn't a bad game-far from it, actually, but when compared to the other games in the Half-Life 1 "series" it's just sort of there. Opposing Force introduced new weapons, music, characters and a lot to keep it fresh, while Blue Shift doesn't add a single thing and just rides on the coat tails of the fame that came from games before it.

So how is Blue Shift (which I just realized has the acronym BS, teehee) not terrible, since I'm bashing it so? Well, it sticks to the core Half-Life gameplay as I said, and you really can't go wrong with it. It's fast paced, balanced, well designed, and is very atmospheric if you allow yourself to be immersed into it. But despite all this, if you've played the games before it, than Blue Shift is just... boring. I don't want to be too rude, because I really do think this is a good game, but there just isn't enough new stuff in Blue Shift to keep it interesting,

It reuses Opposing Force's soundtrack, gives you only three fourths of the first game's weapons, and the story is...oh, right! That's a good part! G-Man (a staple of the series) only appears once, in the beginning of the game. He's even absent from the ending. This may sound lame, but it's sort of assumed by now that G-man would be really prominent, so having him just show up once is a surprising and welcome twist. And when you think about it, it even makes sense! Why WOULD G-Man bother following some random security guard? It's actually kind of genius in a way. Oh yeah also the way they explain teleportation is absolutely brilliant and makes a lot of sense (no I'm not being sarcastic) and this is seriously the best explanation of teleportation I've seen in my life.

So, in conclusion, Blue Shift is.. okay. It doesn't pack the punch of the other games in the Half-Life Series (let's just pretend Decay doesn't exist,) and really doesn't have a purpose since it has no bearing on the story, but it's okay and can be occasionally genius when it comes to the story. It's too much of a rehash for me to really love it, but it certainly won't upset any Half-Life purists.
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57 of 60 people (95%) found this review helpful
48 people found this review funny
3.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 23, 2015
..."you play as Barney Calhoun, the security guard sidekick who helped Gordon out of so many sticky situations." - By staring at Gordon every time he shows up?

10/10 Would help again
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