Publisert: 14. desember
I would like to be among the voices of positive dissent and say that this game has been given an unfair shake by many people here. You'd think by the "Mostly Negative" reception it's a broken, unplayable mess or something. No, the fact of the matter is that it's just a really short campaign (that could be said to be just a glorified map pack) using the same weapons and enemies as usual from Half-Life and with a hilariously tossed-together end boss fight. So, in short, it's Blue Shift all over again, only it's his much younger, shorter ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ cousin (though Blue Shift didn't have a boss fight) we're dealing with here. I did like Blue Shift though, and in general after playing through the honestly exhausting campaigns that were the original Half-Life, the great Opposing Force and even Blue Shift to some degree it's nice to play a small chaser like this that focuses on its action from the getgo without fussing over length or annoying platforming sections.
So the game is intended as a fan's interpretation as to how the yellow crystal that caused the Black Mesa disaster was obtained in the first place. It's been found on a cargo ship of sorts when it's taken over by the Xen aliens killing everyone, Now it's up to you, another mute, hazard suit-bearing superscientist badass named Andrew Winner (so literally you can say "YOU'RE WINNER!" in this case) to be teleported to the ship and retrieve the "artifact" in question. The moment you start a headcrab attacks you, with an assault rifle over a corpse behind you to take care of it. And from then on, it's Zombies, Vortigaunts, one part with three annoying turrets (when aren't they annoying?), Houndeyes, Bullsquids, all your favorites, before you face tougher foes like the Alien Grunts and Alien Controllers (which can be safely ignored really) getting in your way. One part has a bunch of snarks busting out of a vent shaft which is an instant death trap if you don't get back on the ladder that got you there to begin with (I don't know if it's triggered by going near it or by defeating the other enemies in the room first). Oh, yes, you face off against some... military guys. All four of them They use Marine skins but they don't seem to be Marines. I don't know who they are or why they want you dead. Are they some special ops team tasked with retrieving the artifact for their own gain, destroying it, etc.? Like I said this is before we even get to the Black Mesa debacle so hostile human presence doesn't make sense here, story-wise.
Anyway, the entire game is a relatively small, extremely linear cargo ship whose structure is going from point A to B and then A again where you face off against the boss, end game. You have to get to the captain who's holed himself up in a room at the top of the ship and get him to open up the cargo hold under the ship where the yellow crystal is. Then it's another firefight against your more deadly opponents until you face off against... "Genome" Blah-blah Number-Such-and-such aka "Nihilanth with a Barnacle for a mouth." It's one of the silliest boss fights ever. First you drop down the cargo bay, where you recover some of your health somehow, and also lose all your weapons, which you have to run around the arena to retrieve again(?). The boss has no animation to it whatsoever, it's like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float of Nihilanth chasing you around with a long tongue dangling on the ground (avoid the tongue or it's instant death). Where's the yellow crystal? He comes right in the bay in a cinematic and... swallows it up with his tongue. Why? Just... because. All you do really is circle-strafe non-stop firing up at him as he floats around trying to get you with his tongue. It doesn't take long to finish him off really. I filled him with some magnum bullets, a few bullets from an assault rifle, a grenade shot and he exploded instantly... exactly like a balloon would. Oh yeah there's Alien Controllers above trying to fire at you but they're of no consequence since you're moving around so much they can't exactly hit you so they're not worth the bother. You get a cutscene where we see Gordon Freeman walk into a room where the yellow crystal is, and we know the happy fun times that comes afterwards.
So, why do I recommend this game besides being short and free (which isn't really a reason to recommend anything, plenty of bad things are short and free)? Well, it's still Half-Life, it plays as such, and so it still fun and plays well. I like the tighter action focus here, a good break from Half-Life and its expansions' labyrinths, platforms and fetch quests. The action makes for a good coffee break on Medium difficulty, and somewhat challenging on Hard (this is the only Half-Life anything I've bothered with on Hard only because of the length - the other games were exhausting enough on Medium in my opinion), and though I did die a decent number of times most of those were from the turrets, the one REAL pain the ♥♥♥ on Hard (everything else is either just a minor inconvenience or something you can easily plow through, like the slow-moving Zombies). I like the sharper textures of the graphics and generally smoother, faster animation (it says to use the "Half-Life 1.8" engine, whatever that is) and little things like the new model and animation for the pistol. And the music too. The Half-Life games offered plenty of quiet moments in between its brief bits of moody music, here it offers more thumping electronic music that doesn't let up. It starts off with a catchy mid-paced track and for a brief time some nice techno/d'n'b for the section fighting the military dudes (too bad that doesn't last too long). The level design isn't the most amazing, it's just a stretched-out corridor essentially but for a cargo ship it gets the job done.
I'd say if you're a Half-Life fan, haven't played this and wondering if you should bother I'd say yes, go ahead and form your own opinion on it. Like I said if nothing else it's short, free and very much playable with no bugs or game-breaking glitches that I could see. So now that you know that, what you think of the rest of the game is up to you.