Opposing the Forces
Half life, which I used to pass the time again and again, is still my favorite FPS game. There are many reasons for that (including countless LAN parties in my teenage years), but the thing is, only recently, and thanks to my friend who bought me HL pack, I've discovered that apart from Blue Shift, (which I personaly call The Blue Sh*t) there has been another expansion. This time more interesting, since we get to see the Black Mesa events from perspective of a Solider. After beating the game, I decided to share my thoughts on it.
1. The Lord is our Shephard. - The main character, the idea of the game
Shephard. Well that's basically who our protagonist is, just like in the first HL, we play the part of the people's hero, leading the frightened flock through the dangers of the warzone that the Black Mesa compound has become. Groups of two, three soliders can be found scattered along the whole game. I think it's a good idea to view the original HL story from a different perspective. The point of view is the key here, for it gives greater insight to certain things, like:
- Humanizing the Grunts, whom, in the first HL we understandably percive as an evil force, not very much different from the aliens from Xen. Here, we realise they are just pawns, placed in a similar position to the BM personnel.
- Outside of Black Mesa, we get to see what happens on a larger scale, exploring the military grounds.
- We revisit certain places, like the laboratory in which Freeman teleports to Xen, and get to see what happens then.
The entire storyline follows in the wake of Gordon Freeman, so it has a nice feeling to it, for the players who enjoyed the plot of the original game.
2. Panta Rhei - What's different from the original HL
I must say I'm not a fan of the changes to the armory, or for that matter, to the way we can fight here. Some of the weapon options recived a failry mirrored replacement, like the Colt Python. Some, in fact about a half, remained unchanged - Glock 9mm, the HK MP5, Spas-12, and RPG. The new weapons include three alien biological weapons, which are very ammo efficient since each of them posesses a way of replenishing the ammunition indefinitely. I don't like their concepts however, since for me, they don't serve any purpose in expanding our combat possibilities (except for the melee weapon, but it's nearly impossible to use in serious combat, due to it's nature).
I don't understand the replacement of the crowbar. It has been devided into two weapons - Pipe Wrench, which has 2 attack modes (a normal hit and a loaded attack which takes 3 seconds to fully load) and a knife, quick and low damage/range weapon. For me, the crowbar was perfect. After getting the glock I barely even used the wrench, since there is plenty of 9mm ammo everywhere, despite playing on Hard difficulty. The explosives remain unchanged. We get the granades, Laser Tripmines and Satchel Charges. More new weapons include Sniper Rifle, Heavy Machinegun or an experimental Displacer Cannon.
Casual, Casual.. ehh. C'mon, the three best weapons of the series, being (in my humble opinion) The Crowbar, The Crossbow and The Gauss Riffle, are gone. What fun is there in slashing Xen'ians with a regular knife?
The enemies are also different, considerably tougher and more challanging than in the first HL, altough less fun in my opinion. We hardly see any zombies or headcrabs. We mostly battle organised Xen soliders and their.. warmachines?
3. Nihil novi sub sole - So what is this game all about
It's Half Life. Reskinned, rearranged, rewritten. But it's all the same. The ideas were eaten, chewed and spat out in a mixture of green paint. I like the game, I really do. It's just - we don't do anything new (oh ok except for using a rope two times). Literally. It's all crawling through the pipes, trying to figure out how to get out of old storage-like places, fighting, jumping. There is no new element. We don't even have a chance, despite being a Corporal, to actually implement this element, for commanding people or anything. We just run around exactly like Gordon did, and fight a war we don't understand. there is one thing worthy of mentioning here though - The game passes on, and even expands the element which is one of the reasons for my deep affection for the first HL, this being the nessecity of strategic usage of the enviorment. There are situations and places in which you have to actually figure out what to do. In most of today's games you are given a minimap that shows you where to go. These games explain, step by step, what button to touch and what wire to cut. In this series you've got to rely on your instinct, and that's awesome.
4. Leave a light on for me - More about concepts, changes and the game
Am I the only person who hates the night vision? Man, it's such a terrible concept. I understand that we play a solider and military has to possess some high tech, but damn. You (or at least I) can hardly even see anything in this green light, even in the dark. I'd like a regular flashlight instead, please. What's the deal - couldn't they just leave the flashlight AND add the night vision? If they could implement 3 melee weapons, why not 2 light variants? I know not. Besides, there are like 3 or 4 places in the game where it actually comes in handy. Let's say HL has way more to do with a solid horror climate, where you had to use the flashlight actually more than the pistol and the battery was almost always red. The game is too long. Most of the locations are artificially stretched by repetition. In my opinion the game could be reduced to the 60% of its current length and still have the same, if not the better impact. By the way - there are hardly any bosses here, the ones that do exist are reused HL 1 bosses or boss ideas. Sad. Also, what the hell is with this Displacer Cannon's secondary fire mode? So we can basically teleport to safety at any moment we just need ammo. Did I mention that I hated the Night Vision?
5. Too much love will kill you - my final opinion
The game is decent, overall. It lacks some elements of the original HL atmosphere, which made it a hit, but perhaps it was meant to be this way. Despite playing as a solider I almost haven't felt the military spirit in the process, except for some parts when the combat music carried us. As I mentioned earlier the action is stretched like granny's breasts. There were moments where I've felt like I was meeting some kind of a Force Opposing my completion of the level. Oh, lest I forget - my ultimate complaint. The game was way too easy. Playing on the Hard difficulty, through the most of the game, save for perhaps two last chapters, I was running around will full health... and armor. For old HL veterans this must sound like a blasphemy since HEV armor was hard to come by in HL 1. There are also way too many medpacks in this game. Well perhaps I am tainted with my multiplayer experience. Anyways, I recommend this game, adding 0.5 to my original score, for the sentiment towards the series.
Half Life: Opposing Force - 6.5 / 10