|First Person Shooter|
Half-Life Blue Shift
by Vivendi UIP
Designed by Valve/Gearbox
Platform: PC CD/ROM
Price £14.99 Released: Out Now
32MB of RAM
4MB graphics/video card DirectX compatible
all we had the scientists story then we had the soldiers version of events and
now in Blue Shift (which is a stand alone game) we have the security guard's
tale of that fateful day at Black Mesa. The original Half-Life whilst rightly
hailed as a classic by the gaming press around the world has remained a sore
point as far as deaf gamers are concerned. Imagine a game that is hailed by
many as the finest ever created to prove confusing and bewildering when you
attempt to play it. Such is the case with Half-Life when played by a deaf gamer.
With no subtitles (on cutscenes or ingame) the deaf gamer was left in the dark
and the effect of all those brilliant verbal interactions with NPCs, that the
gaming world was delighting over, was wasted. Even the tutorial gave no inclination
of what the deaf gamer should do. In fact the only way it could be played from
a deaf person's perspective was to play through the game with a very detailed
walkthrough which sort of defeats the point. Let's see if Half-Life Blue Shift
is more accommodating to the deaf gamer.
I loaded the game with anticipation and checked the options menus hoping to see a subtitles option but alas there was none, so off to start a new game I went. The intro was very similar to the original Half-Life in that you begin on a monorail and sadly also in that there was no subtitles. Again the deaf gamer is left clueless. In game it is the same story. No subtitles for any of the conversations. The NPCs guide you through the game with their advice but without subtitles it is worthless. The Hazard Course is very similar to the original so if you found that confusing then you will again.
It is not all disappointment though as Gearbox have added some visual clues to the interface. The HUD now has visual warnings when you are being harmed by something in the environment. An example of this is the knocked over chemical waste drum that appears when you are being damaged by acid or corrosive chemicals. This is nice but doesn't really compensate for the lack of subtitles.
The single player side of the game sees you playing the character of Barney Calhoun. The intro sees you return to duty and the events of the game are carried out at exactly the same time as a certain Mr. Freeman is turning up for his first shift at the Black Mesa. If you have played the original game you will come across several instances that are familiar and refer to sections of the original game. The crossover with the original game is good and well thought out.
The graphics have been improved thanks to the high definition add-on and character models and weapons now look up to date. The game now contains more puzzle solving and you generally have to have your wits about you to progress at certain stages of the game. I found this added more balance to the game and the puzzles never became frustrating. Aside from the lack of subtitles the one quibble with this game is the length. Blue Shift will only take between 6-12 hours of gameplay to complete (assuming you can work out what's going on) but to counter that it does only cost £14.99 and you are also receiving the Opposing Force Multiplayer mode with Blue Shift which negates any comment on length. Speaking of the multiplayer side of the game, this is the one part of the game where a deaf gamer suddenly comes on a level with a hearing gamer. The objectives are clear, no NPC interaction is available and communication is done through text.
All in all Blue Shift does very little to endear itself to the deaf gamer. The redeeming features of the game are that the multiplayer side of the game is very good and even if you have the previous games and play Counter-Strike I suspect you will see the high definition upgrade (it upgrades all the Half-Life games) as worthy of the purchase. The real disaster though is to enjoy the single player game you will find yourself confused and probably looking for a walkthrough again!.
Click here to goto the screenshot gallery >>>
Overall Game Rating: 5/10 Yet again deaf gamers are denied the full Half-Life experience.
Quality of text: 0/10 Deaf gamers are in the dark again.
Graphics: 8/10 The High Definition pack modernizes the character models and weapons.
Interface: 8/10 The interface is unchanged and is still very easy to use.
Gameplay: 4/10 Very confusing single player but saved somewhat with the multiplayer game.