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Half-Life: Blue Shift

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This article is about the Half-Life expansion. For the source engine conversion of Blue Shift, see Operation: Black Mesa.

Steam portrait hl1bs.jpg
Half-Life: Blue Shift

Gearbox Software

Release date(s)
  • Windows:

June 12, 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 the other expansions, Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Decay, Blue Shift's story runs parallel to the events of Half-Life, this time through the eyes of Black Mesa security guard Barney Calhoun. As Barney, the player attempts to escape the alien invasion caused by the resonance cascade and the following military cover-up.

Blue Shift was re-released through Steam on August 24th, 2005.[4] Previous owners of Half-Life, or the Half-Life 2 Silver and Gold packs, could download Blue Shift for free. This practice has since been discontinued.


The retail Blue Shift package offers the Half-Life High Definition Pack as an option during installation. The pack includes updated 3D character, weapon, and item models, some of which increase 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's content was at first designed as an exclusive add-on to the Half-Life Sega Dreamcast port. Due to Sega pulling the plug on the Dreamcast, the port was cancelled weeks from release.[5] It was originally titled Half-Life: Guard Duty.[6][7] The Blue Shift content was re-tooled into a stand-alone product; unlike Opposing Force, it does not require the original Half-Life to run.

The game features areas of Black Mesa previously unseen in a relatively short campaign. Along with the High Definition Pack, new content includes a unique character model belonging to Rosenberg, a Black Mesa scientist who plays a major role in the story, and additional scientist and security guard models sporting casual attire.



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%[8] and 71/100[9] 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).[10] 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.[11] 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".[12]

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".[13] 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.[14] 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."[15]





Half-Life: Blue Shift
Combine OverWiki has more images related to Half-Life: Blue Shift.
  1. 1.0 1.1 SIERRA ON-LINE ANNOUNCES HALF-LIFE®: BLUE SHIFT IS SHIPPING on Sierra On-Line (June 13, 2001) (archived)
  2. Half-Life: Blue Shift update released on Official Steam website (August 1, 2013)
  3. ECTS 2000: Hands-On With Half-Life on IGN (September 1, 2000)
  4. Half-Life: Blue Shift Released on Steam on Official Steam website (August 24, 2005)
  5. Not Given Half A Chance: The Cancellation of Half-Life on IGN (June 18, 2001) (archived)
  6. Half-Life: Blue Shift files
  7. YouTube favicon.png Half-Life: Guard Duty Trailer (Early Half-Life: Blue Shift trailer) on YouTube
  8. Half-Life: Blue Shift Reviews on GameRankings (archived)
  9. Half-Life: Blue Shift (PC: 2001): Reviews on Metacritic
  10. Analysis: Valve's Lifetime Retail Sales For Half-Life, Counter-Strike Franchises on Gamasutra (December 3, 2008)
  11. Half-Life: Blue Shift on IGN (June 12, 2001) (archived)
  12. Half-Life: Blue Shift Review on GameSpot (March 10, 2003)
  13. Reviews: Half-Life: Blue Shift on GameSpy (September 12, 2012) (archived)
  14. Half-Life: Blue Shift Review on Eurogamer (June 16, 2001)
  15. PC Review: Half-Life: Blue Shift on (August 13, 2001) (archived)

External links[edit]