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"Hope you're ready for a looong shift."

Black Mesa: Blue Shift is a Black Mesa Game Mod developed by HECU Collective which aims to remake Half-Life: Blue Shift. Once again, the player assumes the role of Barney Calhoun, a security guard working in the Black Mesa Research Facility.

The mod is being released episodically, one chapter at a time:

  • Chapter 1: Living Quarters Outbound (March 2021)
  • Chapter 2: Insecurity (July 2021)
  • Chapter 3: Duty Calls (November 2021)
  • Chapter 4: Captive Freight (December 2022)

In a similar vein to Black Mesa's Xen, the remake intends to expand upon the playable levels compared to the original source material, which was criticized for being too short compared to Half-Life and its preceding expansion pack, Half-Life: Opposing Force.

Black Mesa: Blue Shift contains examples of:

  • Acid Pool: The lab with a few chemical spills in "Duty Calls" is now a lab-turned-vat of glowing, corrosive liquid. You even get to watch a hapless scientist fall in and get disintegrated.
  • Adaptational Badass: Vortigaunts not only have all the improvements they received in Half-Life 2 (which the initial portions of Black Mesa were derived from), but now have two additional attacks - one where they create an energy grenade and chuck it (and occasionally they produce two at the same time), and a second attack that sends in a forward traveling energy pulse.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Calhoun trades blows with the HECU at the start of "Captive Freight", when they try to trick and ambush him shortly after he reaches the surface. In the original game, Calhoun's first real encounter with the HECU is just before he gets to Harold.
  • Adaptational Explanation:
    • The original Half Life never explains why the HECU is tasked to wipe out all of Black Mesa's staff in addition to the Xen aliens, beyond some implications that they are to Leave No Witnesses. Here, one scientist indicates that Black Mesa abused its funding to conduct numerous unethical and downright illegal experiments beyond the ones that lead to the Resonance Cascade, and that the government wiping out the staff would be a case of wanting to prevent another catastrophic event from happening.
    • The HECU marines heard conversing at the end of "Duty Calls" heavily imply that, had they landed successfully, Adrian Shepard and his team would've been among the groups tasked with eliminating all of Black Mesa's staff. In their home game, Shepard's osprey is shot down before they can get their mission briefing.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: In the original Half-Life and its expansions, the HECU tries to wipe out the Black Mesa staff seemingly For the Evulz. Here, a comment by one of the scientists in "Duty Calls" indicates that Black Mesa conducted numerous unapproved experiments (with the implication that some were outright illegal) and that the HECU trying to wipe them out is a somewhat twisted case of Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The remake extends the length of the game by adding more content and flavor both alongside and in already existing maps.
    • Duty Calls has an expanded puzzle complete with a final battle not included in the original game.
    • Captive Freight gives the HECU Chinooks (that is not present in Black Mesa) and includes new sequences where said helicopters deploy vehicles to impede Barney's path.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Harold, per his original role. Before succumbing to his wounds, he gives Barney his key card and tells him to find Dr. Rosenberg if he wants a chance at escaping the facility.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Barney Calhoun himself. He goes from a random security guard banging on a door in Black Mesa to a fully playable character with his own story.
    • Dr. Patrice Patterson, one of the scientists riding down the doomed elevator with Barney, the other scientist being named Trevor. She has a surprising amount of dialogue before you even reach the elevator scene itself.
    • The Black Mesa maintenance crew appear a lot more here compared to just the brief cameo of one working a forklift in the original Half-Life's Scenic-Tour Level. You even interact with a new maintenance crew NPC at the Canal crusher near the end of the "Duty Calls" level.
    • In the original "Captive Freight", there's two random unnamed scientists that Calhoun comes across before finally locating Dr. Rosenberg who don't serve any purpose after being freed from the train cars they're locked in. Here however, one of the scientists is now a maintenance worker named Ronny while the other is a female scientist named Dr. Henderson, and after Calhoun rescues them, they actually follow along with him and Rosenberg to the old prototype teleporter lab.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Just like in the original, the first onscreen casualty is Trevor, a grouchy black scientist who asks Barney to fix up the elevator. When the incident starts, the electrical panel behind him explodes, killing him.
  • The Cameo: The Black Mesa photograph from Kleiner's lab in Half-Life 2 makes an appearance in Insecurity on one of the photograph panels, with Dr. Magnusson appearing alongside the likes of Freeman, Vance, Kleiner, and Breen.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • On the initial train journey in Black Mesa, you pass by a security guard banging on a door. In Blue Shift, the first door you come to malfunctions, and if you look around while waiting for the guard on the other side to open it, you'll see Freeman passing you by. Bonus points is that you're also able to actually bang on the door by pressing a button, and if you do so repeatedly, the guard will become irritated.
    • Barney's friendship with Gordon is referenced by a sticky note in his locker that reads "Buy a beer for Gordon".
    • One of the images shown on the rotating signs is the Anomalous Materials group photo that's framed in Kleiner's lab in Half-Life 2.
    • A radio transmission mentions that several Osprey helicopters are unaccounted for, including Goose Three and Goose Seven, the two Ospreys which get shot down at the beginning of Opposing Force.
    • The HECU start to indiscriminately use artillery strikes on Black Mesa's topside facilities towards the end of "Captive Freight", just as they're seen doing during "We've Got Hostiles" in the base game.
  • Creator Cameo: In keeping with the tradition maintained by Half-Life and Black Mesa, the lockers in the Security Facilities bear the names of the mod's developers.
  • Curse Cut Short: During the radio conversation in the yard where Ellie is found, several marines can be heard expressing disbelief over the fact that Barney and Otis are able to outmatch the squad guarding her. One of their expletives gets interrupted by the transmission cutting out.
    Background marines: Oh my god... Those idiots had one fu—
  • Death by Adaptation: An ambiguous example, but in the original game, one of the security guards seen during the Resonance Cascade barely managed to avoid being run over by a speeding cargo tram. The same scene happens here, but while the guard still avoids being pancaked, the train ends up blowing through the cargo loader robot behind him, which explodes, leaving his fate up in the air, especially since he was still in the blast radius.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: A security guard does this if Calhoun flashes the security camera one too many times and he opts to throw the wrench he's using. Needless to say, he deserves every right to destroy that camera due to your continued annoyance efforts.
    Security Guard: Oh, that's it!
    (throws wrench to destroy the annoyance-inducing camera)
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Getting yourself killed during "Insecurity" results in a unique game over message stating that Barney decided to commit suicide.
    • When Trevor gets shocked to death during the fateful elevator ride, Patrice pleading "Don't just stand there, do something!" is changed to "Don't just sit there..." if you happen to be sitting on the elevator's seats.
    • If you somehow expend all your ammo before meeting the crowbar scientist, he'll make note of it and use it as further justification for giving you his hardware.
    • Just like in the original game, the NPCs in "Captive Freight" will have different lines of dialogue if you removed the construction wall hiding the prototype lab's elevator before Dr. Rosenberg leads you back to it later on. In addition, given that you have two security guard followers this time around if you destroy the wall beforehand, they will have unique dialogue regarding the discovery. When Calhoun is asked to destroy the wall in the conventional sequence of events, using anything but the crowbar will invoke a snide remark from one of the security guards.
    • Just before heading inside the military supply container, the dialogue between the marines manning the train engine will have a slight difference depending on whether Calhoun destroyed the deployed HECU turrets by the engine's front or not.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In Blue Shift, there's a security guard in the sewer areas of "Duty Calls" where he's being pulled at each arm by zombies, and later falls into the abyss when they let go. Here, he's seen running across the same catwalk and trips, hangs on the ledge, and is sent falling to his death not by the zombies, but from a large fan in the room (which also kills the zombies the same way). Calhoun himself needs to avoid this same fate when he crosses this catwalk.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop:
    • The fat security guard in the firing range is seen trying to reach for his holstered gun while holding a donut with the closer hand. Later, a scientist tells another guard "Shouldn't you be off guarding some coffee and donuts?"
    • Murdoch, while busy kicking a door open during his initial re-appearance in "Captive Freight", chastises Otis for attempting to reach for a donut behind a server rack which was covered in lots of dust.
  • Easter Egg: The Chumtoad from the original makes a return. Although it's now a plushie instead of a living creature, the method of obtaining it is pretty much the same. In the Captive Freight release, bringing the plushie all the way to the prototype teleporter causes an additional "Xen When?" message to pop up after the "To Be Continued" screen.
  • Elevator Failure: Calhoun's first assignment is to fix an elevator in Sector G. When he does, the elevator makes it down a few floors before the Resonance Cascade causes it to drop rapidly to the bottom of the shaft. Calhoun is the only one known to survive the impact.
  • Escort Mission:
    • "Duty Calls" has a new section not in the original game where you have to find and bring back a security guard to open a locked door.
    • Getting Rosenberg to the prototype labs after freeing him from his container involves more soldiers and other obstacles this time around, making the sequence less straightforward than the original.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Implied — one scientist notes that if the government saw some of the things Black Mesa was doing, they'd decide to kill them all. The implication is that the HECU do precisely that for precisely the reason the scientist feared.
  • Fan Remake: Of the Half-Life expansion Half-Life: Blue Shift.
  • Friend or Foe?: In "Duty Calls", a scientist knocks Barney out with a crowbar, reacting before realizing what he's done. He gives Barney his crowbar as a way of apologizing. Not long afterwards, fellow security guard Murdoch impulsively fires several shots at Barney from around a corner, likewise believing him to be a hostile.
  • Foreshadowing: There's even more foreshadowing all over the place than in the main game throughout the pre-disaster chapters all hinting at the imminent disaster, before all hell finally broke loose at the end of "Insecurity".
    • In "Living Quarters Outbound", a scientist asked another about where they got the strange incredibly pure Xen crystal sample that is scheduled to be tested that morning.
    • Throughout "Living Quarters Outbound" and "Insecurity", the systems all over Black Mesa are showing even more dysfunctions and problems than in Black Mesa, some of which required Barney's intervention with all the technicians preoccupied with fixing everything.
    • One of the security camera feeds after you got to the security department, you can watch Dr. Gina Cross in her HEV suit pushing the trolley with the Xen Crystal into the testing chamber loading bay.
    • In the wake of the disaster, waves of green lightning occasionally foreshadow the appearance of Xen creatures via portals.
  • For Science!: Blue Shift reveals a possible reason for the HECU's actions to be due to this: a scientist mentioned to Barney that Black Mesa was conducting a lot of unapproved research with the budget they received from the government, things apparently so dangerous or questionable that the government would outright kill them all if they ever found out - which is possibly understandable considering what Black Mesa's forays into Xen and the fateful Anti-Mass Spectrometer experiment that day ultimately led to...
  • Gas-Cylinder Rocket: Several of them, distinguishable by their yellow finish, appear during "Captive Freight".
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Before Ronny got himself captured by the HECU, he decided it's a good idea to trust Copeland and go with him despite Murdoch's protests that he is not to be trusted due to his Dirty Coward tendencies. Ronny gets to learn why, and gets an earful from Murdoch after he, Calhoun, and Otis released him from captivity.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Murdoch's facial features are borrowed from the security guards' voice actor Kevin Sisk.
  • Justified Tutorial: Given that it's an addition to this mod, the first shootable generator you come across in "Duty Calls" gets shot by Murdoch in order to show off the generator's electrical discharge mechanic killing all nearby enemies.
  • Laser Sight: Certain marines in "Captive Freight" employ green laser sights, which help make them more visible to the player especially in long-range confrontations where they'd otherwise be difficult to spot.
  • Marathon Level: "Captive Freight" has been greatly expanded in play time compared to the original, to the point where a first time playthrough of the chapter can take around two hours to complete.
  • Mythology Gag: Two areas shown on the camera feeds in "Insecurity", including the hallway Gina uses to transport the Xen crystal trolley, are directly lifted from HECU Collective's remake of Azure Sheep. Additionally, some of the promotional posters in the Security Facilities depict areas from the opening chapter of said remake.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Like in Black Mesa, several unnamed NPCs from the source material are given proper names:
    • The two scientists in the doomed elevator in "Insecurity" are named Dr. Patrice Patterson and Trevor.
    • The scientists in the railyard that Calhoun can save before finding Rosenberg are now a maintenance worker named Ronny and a scientist named Dr. Ellie Henderson.
    • Harold's last name is revealed to be Messner.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Murdoch believes in sticking together and will not allow anyone on his watch to be left behind. It is for this reason that he doesn't like Copeland due to prioritizing his own safety above others.
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • Like the original expansion, shooting anybody during "Insecurity" results in Barney getting fired for improper firearm usage, though it's now only possible while in the shooting range.
    • If Rosenberg or Murdoch dies during their respective escort segments, the game ends.
  • Not His Sled: Given the shortness of the original game, expect a lot of Adaptation Expansion.
    • Fixing the elevator in "Insecurity" is no longer a matter of just hitting the elevator button. You have to go through a maintenance corridor and reconnect the elevator's power source first.
    • The "Duty Calls" level had many areas extended or revamped, including a new Escort Mission section where you have to find a security guard to unlock a door. In addition, "Duty Calls" now has shootable generators that when hit give off an electrical discharge that kills anything near it.
    • Near the end of "Duty Calls", if you thought you were safe to just head back and drop the final explosive box into the Canal crusher after fixing the elevator generator, you're dead wrong as it turns out that the flooded room you have to backtrack through has been turned into a tough Final Battle for the level where many Vortigaunts teleport in to try to kill Calhoun.
    • Obtaining the crowbar got pushed to a later section of "Duty Calls". Originally, Calhoun picks it up moments after getting off the crashed elevator at the start of the level. Now, he doesn't get it until coming across the scientist survivor who advises him to take the Canal route.
    • Just before Harold succumbs to his wounds after explaining the situation, he offers Calhoun his keycard, prompting a scripted cutscene. In Blue Shift, this was followed by a HECU marine busting down a door to the way forward. Here, Calhoun hears some chatter behind said door, and it's not the voices of HECU marines. It's changed to a pair of security guards that accompany Calhoun for this mission.
    • Similar to "Duty Calls", the "Captive Freight" level has several areas extended or revamped.
      • The detour through the steam tunnels after the HECU close the gate on Calhoun before he reaches the train yard is greatly expanded upon. Along with the many new puzzles that involve having to blow up steam pipes in order to reach new areas, there's also new puzzles that involve connecting manual detonators to explosives in order to blow up certain objects, such as needing to find some explosives to blow open the locked entrance to the steam tunnels.
      • The train yard itself is also revamped in order to implement new puzzles that revolve around having to take control of train engines and move them around the tracks in order to shove around certain cars. Either to move a car with a stationary rocket launcher into place in order to use it to blow open train yard gates, or to move the freight cars with captives inside them to the drop off locations that they can be opened up.
    • Calhoun's first encounter with Rosenberg is slightly changed. Instead of moving into the container he's locked in and the door getting locked from behind, Calhoun suffers what Freeman did at the end of Apprehension and get ambushed by the HECU just as he's opening the container door. With aliens warping in abruptly soon after, the soldiers have no choice but to shove Calhoun into the locker with Rosenberg. Rosenberg then brings Calhoun back to consciousness before explaining the situation as he did in the original game.
    • Unlike the original game, you can no longer take the elevator down to the prototype lab earlier than you're supposed to as there's now a locked door beforehand that requires Rosenberg to open. Thus, if you were interested in grabbing some supplies from the security storage room just outside the locked prototype lab entrance, it's no longer possible.
    • The pair of buttons that Rosenberg originally used to start up the prototype teleporter is now a Two-Keyed Lock which requires two key cards from authorized personnel — in this case, from Rosenberg and the late Harold.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Murdoch, the companion guard first encountered in "Duty Calls", prefers to handle locked doors this way.
    • He first demonstrates this not long after his introduction with a door that refuses to open despite Calhoun's efforts and even reminds him that in emergencies like this, things like that are acceptable.
      Murdoch: Okay, look. I think we can overlook destruction of property just this once. (kicks the door open) Ow.
    • The second one is shortly after Calhoun got a keycard from Harold, Murdoch attempts to kick the door open three times while chewing out Otis for attempting to reach for a donut behind a server rack.
    • The third one is when Otis asks him if he knows the code to the security door, he says "kinda" then opts to kick it open like last time. This unintentionally saved his life as there is a HECU marine standing behind the door when he got squashed by it, much to the guard's surprise, then makes a quip on said soldier afterwards when he saw what happened. Had Murdoch opened it conventionally, the marine might get the drop on him first before he can respond.
      Murdoch: Well don't stand behind it, then. Dingbat.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Gordon Freeman is first seen boarding and then riding the tram not long after Calhoun makes it to the entrance of the Security Office he's assigned to. You can later see him in one of the camera feeds making his way to his HEV suit.
  • The Purge: One of the scientists in Duty Calls encourages Barney to escape the disaster but not reveal his presence in the facility, as he fears the government would pull this on him and everyone else in Black Mesa owing to all the questionable research Black Mesa have been conducting with their funding - the sort of research which would ultimately cause the Resonance Cascade and cause the Black Mesa Incident. As those familiar with Half Life and Black Mesa would know, given the HECU's actions, that his fears were entirely justified.
    Scientist: If you do make it to the surface, don't tell anyone that I'm down here. If the government would have found out what we were doing with our funding, we'll ALL be dead.
  • Scenic-Tour Level: Just like the original, the game opens with Barney making his way to an elevator while passing through security.
  • Schmuck Bait: Shortly after Captive Freight begins, Barney physically encounters his first HECU marines, who try to trick him into an ambush by saying that the evac site is just around the corner. Either he blindly walks into the ambush (despite witnessing their work beforehand), or he can just straight up shoot the soldiers first.
    Marine: Ah shit, he knows! Open fire!
  • Serial Escalation:
    • Compared to the original game, the Resonance Cascade gets a far more elaborate sequence of chaos here - the scene now takes place in a loading dock, and while most of the sequence is merely an update over the original, the cargo tram has been upgraded to a cargo train, and ends colliding with a loader robot, causing the whole train to derail (in the original, the tram derailed due to slamming into the end of the tracks at full speed).
    • In the original "Duty Calls", it only took one box of explosives to destroy the Canal crusher blocking the path forward. Here, it takes three.
    • "Captive Freight" does this multiple times.
      • In the original, there's only one tank that Calhoun faces off against. Here, there's now two with a new IFV vehicle fight being added right after rescuing Rosenberg.
      • There's now multiple trainyard gates to blow open with rockets compared to the original game only having one gate to blow open.
      • There's now more survivors that head down to the prototype teleporter lab. In the original, it was just Calhoun and Rosenberg heading off to the lab to meet up with Walter and Simmons. This time around, Calhoun and Rosenberg's group is increased to six as they're accompanied by two other security guards (Murdoch and Otis), a maintenance worker named Ronny, and a female scientist named Dr. Henderson.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A dead security guard in the freight offices can be seen curled up in the Family Guy stock death pose.
    • Upon being told that the train car Ronny is locked inside needs to be pulled back to the loading dock, Otis sarcastically mentions that he has a can of spinach handy for the job.
    • One of the departments in the particle labs Barney passes on the way to the elevator is called the Chamber of Reflection.
  • Shows Damage: Calhoun is bruised and blood-stained after the elevator crash at the end of "Insecurity", remaining as such for the rest of the story.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: "Duty Calls" provides a new location to pick up the shotgun in front of the elevator generator wire puzzle if you didn't retrieve it in the steam tunnel area that's off the beaten path. This was done because the shotgun will be very handy afterwards for the newly implemented fight against many Vortigaunts in the nearby flooded room that acts as a Final Battle for the level.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Played for laughs during "Insecurity". You can mess around with various scientists who are working on laptops either by closing the screen on them or unplugging the charger (the latter turning off the laptop in question because its battery is dead), and when a guard doing electrical work in the ceiling drops his screwdriver by accident, you can either give it back or throw it in the nearby trash bin, which forces him to try and continue his work by hand only to get himself electrocuted.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Parodied. During a moment in "Living Quarters Outbound", a scientist gets annoyed at another scientist for asking the same question twice.
    Scientist 1: How's the debugging procedure coming along?
    Scientist 2: I'll look into that.
    Scientist 3: How's the debugging procedure coming along?
    Scientist 2: Stop asking that question!
  • Wilhelm Scream: Used when Calhoun kills a particularly crafty sniper in "Captive Freight".
  • Working-Class Hero: In contrast to Gordon Freeman and Adrian Shephard, Calhoun has no doctorates nor specialized military training, relying solely on his basic training as a security guard in order to survive and get out of Black Mesa.