An entirely new episode for the Half-Life series, Half-Life: Opposing Force returns you to the Black Mesa Research Facility, where an experiment has gone completely wrong.
In Half-Life, you were Gordon Freeman, a scientist struggling to escape the horrific facility. In Half-Life: Opposing Force, you play the other side: Cpl. Adrian Shephard. Your mission? Silence Gordon Freeman and his fellow scientists.
However, before you are given your orders, something goes horribly wrong and your whole platoon is killed. Left stranded, dazed and confused, you'll need to work with those you were sent in to "contain." A few squads of military personnel are still alive within the complex as well and you'll need their help to escape alive.
Half-Life: Opposing Force offers new weapons, both military and alien, new levels, new enemies and a new multi-player experience. While the game offers a new episode, it is not a sequel to Half-Life. Rather, it is an "extension" of Half-Life and, as such, requires that you have the original Half-Life.
From Gearbox Software comes the first official expansion pack for the undisputed Game of the Year '98 -- Half-Life: Opposing Force. For those of you that haven't heard of, seen, or even played Valve's original smash-hit-success, Half-Life, I suggest you go to your local dealer and purchase it at once -- to put it short and sweet, it's amazing. However, since this is a review of Opposing Force and not Half-Life itself, focus will be taken on the new story line, new weapons, new single and multiplayer levels, and new race of monsters that exist within this title.
Half-Life: Opposing Force pretty much follows the same story line as the original, but this time around, instead of taking on the role of Gordon Freeman, you become the opposing force: a military corporal by the name of Adrian Sheppard. When you begin your mission, not much is known about it. You are first treated to a cinematic sequence in a chopper of your fellow soldiers and yourself chatting about the purpose of heading to Black Mesa. Things go wrong, and your aircraft goes down hard. You find yourself in a building with a scientist and two dead soldiers. From there, your journey begins. As with the original Half-Life, I was sucked right in by Opposing Force. Only a few minutes into the game you are treated to some pretty fantastic looking scenes and sequences, and you are faced with terrible danger. You'll have to play at least until you get to the scene where the room decays and fills in with radioactive ooze to know where I am coming from. Gearbox seems to have also improved the AI portion just a little. When you meet up with fellow soldiers, one will be as smart as to take out a torch and bust down a door for you to go through. Soldiers also didn't seem to have too hard of a time following me -- in the original Half-Life they would always seem to get stuck behind doors and around corners. As usual, you have the option of killing your allies. It's a pretty easy thing to do being that it takes a lot more to get the soldier's to shoot back at you. In my experiences, it seems you can shoot a fellow soldier two or three times before he takes it personally. And as you beat them across the back of the head with the wrench or shoot them in the groin with your shotgun, you're treated to certain militant commands such as "Friendly-fire sir! Friendly-fire!", and "I'm hurt, but I think I can go on, sir!".
There are obviously no enhancements graphically, being that it still the same engine, however Gearbox made an excellent use of textures and lighting in the single and multiplayer levels. A new feature that is definitely worth mentioning is night vision. Gearbox has replaced the standard flash light with night vision goggles. This is incredibly helpful in pitch black areas, as well as some nice eye candy. Also the on-screen stats (health level / amount of ammo) are a pretty nice lookin' green with scan lines now!
The singleplayer and multiplayer level design is extremely top notch. If I understand correctly the multiplayer maps were made by the best in business. The game ships with 13 multiplayer maps (op4_ .. bootcamp, datacore, demise, disposal, gasworks, kbase, kndyone, meanie, outpost, park, repent, rubble, xendance). You may recognize some of these map names -- it seems that they've barely touched up some of the most popular multiplayer maps and simply renamed them with the "op4" prefix. The only differences I noticed were that the new weapons were added, and this new creature that sits on ceilings. I'm not quite sure what exactly you call it, but it seems if you shoot it, a ball comes out and bounces around the room until either it hits you and hurts you, or blows up on the wall. Unfortunately I was only able to try one multiplayer map, since out of 2000 WON servers, only 1 was running an opposing force map (op4_rubble). I had to fire up a LAN game to check some of the other maps. The level design on op4_rubble was pretty good -- an indoor type of environment with a place you could fall off the edge of the planet -- definitely original. The single player environment is simply amazing. For those that have played the original Half-Life, you'll recognize a few places that you visited in Black Mesa previously as Gordon, as well as a ton of new areas with new puzzles to solve. So far in my journey, it's been a perfect mixture of old and new scenery to let me know that while I'm still in the Black Mesa facility, I am playing a totally new game. One quirk though in the level designs I found were that some of the jumps were a bit annoying. For example, in one area you have to jump up and over some boxes to continue. The boxes are just so high that I had to jump quite a few times to get up onto them. Also a new method of I noticed of getting around is climbing ropes. This had me puzzled as to what to do for quite some time being that I had never seen it before. Be careful though, because the ropes look an awful lot like the monsters with the tongue's dangling from the ceiling.
As for the new monsters -- I've only gotten past a few episodes, and have already noticed 2 or 3 new species. One species that I came in contact with seemed to be the next stage formation after the head crap takes over a body. It consists of legs, arms, a body, and its head is just a huge mouth with a ton of sharp teeth. Another species' hind legs represented those of a kangaroo. However instead of hopping like a kangaroo, it runs like an ostrich. This particular species had close range attacks as well as a far range attack where it would shoot sharp objects out of its mouth.
As well as the old weapons, there are a lot of new weapons. A total of seven weapon slots are not accessible. However, being that the "impulse 101" cheat is not functioning in Opposing Force, I had to find a few of the weapons around the multiplayer levels. There are now 4 close-range weapons (that I found) in slot 1. Which is pretty nice being that the original Half-Life had only 1 -- the crowbar. The best close-range weapon would have to be 'sucker-guy' (for lack of a better name, or the correct one even). The monsters who inhabit the ceilings of the game now fit into your two hands. When you pull the trigger, the tongue comes out and sucks opponents in.
My major problem with Opposing Force is the music. The sound effects for the speech, weapons, monsters, and other assorted events is perfect, but the music just isn't as good as the original. Valve did such a superb job on the original Half-Life soundtrack that it's worth listening to even when you're not playing the game. Although the music isn't awful, it doesn't live up to the original in anyway.
Over the years, we've beared witness to a number of FPS expansion packs, many of which don't even come close to matching the atmosphere and gameplay of their predecessors. Half-Life: Opposing Force does exactly that. It'll reel you in the moment you start playing it and will surely keep Half-Life fans busy for weeks to come.
People who downloaded Half-Life: Opposing Force have also downloaded:
Half-Life, Half-Life: Blue Shift, Half-Life: Decay, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2, Halo: Combat Evolved, Gunman Chronicles (a.k.a. Half-Life: Gunman), DOOM³
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