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The Top Shelf:
Half-Life: Opposing Force

Vol. 2, Issue 3 
November 24, 1999 

Other new features include the ability to climb and swing on ropes – an interesting physics model that seems to work well; if not perfectly. Definitely something to spice up the game-play, though, and add some new-ness to the game engine (as well as open up new options in multiplayer play). And, as you will learn in “Boot camp”, you can control other soldiers - after a fashion. Grunts will follow you around and shoot things – a la security guards (though with slightly higher effectiveness). Medics will heal you and your teammates (if needed). And engineers can cut through doors for you (adding a bit to the “find key” mentality – since the engineer becomes a “skeleton-key” as long as you have him around). All in all, these don’t add a ton to the game; but they do keep things fresh and interesting. And to add to the realism, your squad-mates will limp or run for cover when they get injured. As I’ve mentioned before, all of these new bits add to the game; and go a long way towards keeping Opposing Force fun and unique – instead of, like most expansions, just being “more of the same”.

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Woo...sniping (35k)

I'm not going to talk any more about the single-player aspect. You’ve probably read enough to either be excited, or decide you’re not interested. Besides, I don’t want to spoil ANY of the great parts of it. I do, however, want to briefly go over the multi-player aspects of OpFor. If you enjoyed Half-Life deathmatch, then you’ll love OpFor’s gameplay. Many weapons in OpFor are slightly different in the multi-player game; and a few become less useful... but OpFor does manage to be as balanced, or more so, than Half-Life was. While specific weapons do definitely rule certain combat regimes, it continues to avoid the “all rocket-launcher, all the time” syndrome that so many FPS’s fall into in deathmatch mode. The sniper rifle is definitely a treat; as you don’t have to zoom in (unlike the crossbow) to use its deadly effects. Beware, though, as its long reload time could leave you a sitting duck if you don’t have a backup plan! The new weapons do definitely add some twists and additional choices, and my only problem with them is the BFG/teleport gun. It just doesn’t really seem to be useful. I’m guessing that Gearbox didn’t want it to be dominating; but the way in which it was implemented... I’d rather it was left out altogether – but then again, I know plenty of people out there who ferociously support the idea of a BFG in every game. Taken against the phenomenal balancing and fun of the deathmatch, it’s a pretty small issue.

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Insert Tarzan reference here (38k)

I'll leave it to you to figure out your own strategies; but you’ll have plenty of places to do so – they’ve reworked all of the original Half-Life maps to include the new weapons, and added a few all-new deathmatch maps, too! There should be more than enough to hold you over until the user community picks up on OpFor level designing. And judging from the fun that myself and my co-workers have had playing this game, you’ll see plenty of servers out there to hone your skills on.

In summary, Opposing Force manages to be a far more complete and coherent expansion packs than most – and, while having a short story line compared to the original, ties into it nicely. Taken as an add-on, it will definitely leave you thinking, “there’s more?” a couple of times. Add to that some fun, expanded deathmatch play that’s equal to, or above normal H-L deathmatch; and OpFor delivers more than its money’s worth – Gearbox should really be commended for a superb job in both the quality of the work, and how well it fits into the existing Half-Life universe. If you enjoyed Half-Life - get your shoes on, grab your keys, and go buy this baby!


- Noel "HB" Wade is a regular contributor to loonygames. Basically, he
just wants attention.



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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. This review is © 1999 Noel Wade. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, goldarn it.