Economy of Effort

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Half Life: Opposing Force Completed


This was my first time playing Opposing Force (or, indeed, any of the Gearbox developed Half-Life content), and the experience was generally positive, if not quite as strongly as the Half-Life replay was.

Half-Life: Opposing ForceThe Good: The beginning sequence of crash-landing at Black Mesa and receiving medical support from the Black Mesa staff that you were sent to suppress was a nice touch. Although the parallel narrative with Half-Life wasn’t particularly strong, there were a few inspired moments such as that one. Many of the gameplay strengths from Half-Life continue on in this game, and some weaknesses (like insipid jumping puzzles) were reduced or eliminated. Gearbox hit all of the typical expansion pack bullet points (More guns! More enemies! More stuff similar to stuff from last time!), which kinda worked both for and against Opposing Force.

The Bad: The environments in Opposing Force tended to be smaller, and there were a number of elements to point to and say “that’s like a smaller version of (insert sequence in Half-Life)”. Opposing Force also didn’t hit what I call the “feels-like-a-real-place factor” like Half-Life did. Instead, OpFor had that video game-y “series of interconnected rooms with no real contextual relation” feeling. Half-Life often had areas with rooms linked together through common hallways, the way real buildings tend to be laid out. Opposing Force often went down the “here’s the hole to crawl through to get to the next area” path instead. Also, while the arsenal of new guns added some variety, some of them felt different just for the sake of being different.

Opposing Force was more Half-Life on a smaller scale, and with a bit less to offer in the narrative. If nothing else, it highlights the strengths of the original Half-Life title in being a fun game despite subtracting some interesting elements.