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Half Life: Opposing-Forces

Hundreds of gamers around the world are enjoying the thrill and suspense of Half-Life, and those of us who've finished the game are itching for more. At last, a solution has arrived to calm this very itch that makes us have involuntary twitches for more of that wonderful gameplay. Opposing forces is here! Opposing forces is an entirely new episode for Half-Life. Rest assure folks, this one is surely to please all.

After picking the game up from Electronic Boutique I wasn't expecting much. I didn't want to disappoint myself by pushing my hopes up to only find that this game was a lame excuse to cash in on the "Game of the Year". If only I knew how much fun was bundled up in that box, I wouldn't have wasted that hour in the Gap.

Opposing Forces places you in the shoes of Colonel Shepard. You are being sent to the black mesa base without prior knowledge of the chaos that has spread like a contagious disease. The intro scene, though not as long as the one in Half-Life, is still very well developed. In the intro you find yourself with your fellow soldiers in a heli-plane flying towards the base while your comrades make wisecracks about this operation being a baby sitting job, when in fact this mission will kill most of them in a matter of hours. While they continue to chat about the mission, aliens start to descend over the plane, and as expected, attack; forcing you and your comrades into after a crash landing into the base. The fight for survival once again commences. After you crash land, within ten minutes of playing the game, you reach a radio that is informing all soldiers to get out of the base and to forget about freemen. As you begin to run towards the helicopter to get out of the base an incredible scripted scene takes place showing the chopper taking off and leaving you behind in a base which is looking more like hell with every passing moment.

In the beginning of the game I was a little let down that I wouldn't be able to fight the same sort of the incredible human opponents that I did in the first game. I loved the way that this brought up such a challenge and made me feel so accomplished when I took out a group of them. My frown quickly changed to a smile as soon as I met the black ninjas. If you thought that the AI for the soldiers in the first one was good, you'll love the personality that these guys emit when they fight. These guys are back-flipping, grenade-tossing, gun-slinging, silent-running, pains in the asses. I loved them immensely. When you come up against these guys, the only clue to you of their presence is a quick tip-tap of their feet running across the concrete. Stumbling into a room full of these guys with no shield and only 15% health is not a good combination. I had to play through the sequence almost 10 times to get down the exact position of each of the ninjas as soon as I entered the room. Even after I memorized their place of appearance I found that my trigger finger was a hundredth of a second shy of getting in that last kill shot.

The ninjas aren't the only bad guys who want to decapitate your head. A new breed of aliens have descended over the base while Gordon is in Xen. These aliens are exactly the same as the soldiers from the last game, except they talk in different language and lob organic grenades at you. Even though they are the same, they don't seem to have the same appeal to me as the soldiers, and their AI seems a bit muddled compared to the ninjas. To balance the forces against you, GearBox made a wonderful decision of allowing your comrades to fight along your side. These soldiers are using the same AI the ones from the first one did, except this time, their gun sights aren't aim at your head. They do a great job of watching your six as you move into dangerous territory. Also added are 9 new weapons; long gone is the wimpy crowbar that Gordon wielded. That is now replaced with a massive wrench. Another replacement is made to the dart gun. Now you have a sniper rifle that more adequately fits the character you portray. A new weapon is added to almost all the categories, making the game more fun. Discovering a new weapon is always fun; I instantly equip the new weapon as soon as I find it and look for an alien to test it out on. Another addition to the game is rope climbing. You as Colonel Shepard have the ability to climb ropes and swing on them. The ropes take some time to get used to, but eventually you get the hang of it, and you are swinging like a monkey on fire. If you still feel a bit edgy about taking the ropes, you can go to the newly added boot camp, which is like a replacement for the hazard course. This really brought a grin to my face. The environment that the boot camp was created around and within is simply amazing. You'll pass men doing push ups as instructors bark at them, and you yourself will also be barked at by your own instructor as he pummels you with drill after drill in this well-disguised tutorial. Now I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell you what I disliked about this game. Opposing Forces though a great game, leaves much to be desired in the music department. I took the CD and listened to it in my CD player. Almost all the songs were the same drumroll- rappa-tat-tat sort of music. Half-Life contained a great sound track, while this game isn't too hip when it comes to the beat, and leaves some to be desired. Another complaint I have is with the multiplayer. I was really hoping for some more Team-Fortress levels, but instead the Opposing Forces CD is chock full of deathmatch maps made by industry "All-Stars". While fun for some, it just doesn't float my boat to well. All in all, my little complaints are forgotten quickly as the game overshadows these small flaws with the same outstanding gameplay that made Half-Life the hit it was.

Opposing Forces is an amazing game, and Gearbox deserves a hearty applause for raising the bar in quality expansion paks. This game is a hands down winner, and anyone that enjoyed Half-Life, should welcome this with open arms to their gaming library.

Mohammad Kakwan

Like always if you have any questions or comments I can be reached at [email protected]. Or you can even go and express you self on the message boards.

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