Wot I Think: Black Mesa

By Alec Meer on September 21st, 2012 at 10:00 pm.

he's probably not a problem, probably

Half-Life is back. Back in Black Mesa, the fan-made, Source-powered remake that’s been years in the making. It was never going to happen, and then suddenly it did. After all that, is it a polished recreation of Valve’s beloved shooter, or an awkward perversion? I’ll be waiting for you, in the word chamber.

Even after all these years, I still feel bad about frying the tentacle beast in the Blast Pit level. Poor blind, stupid thing. It doesn’t know where it is, it doesn’t know what is and isn’t a threat, it’s found itself a nice hidey-hole and then some mute bastard comes along and sautees it just so he can open a door. You’re no hero, Freeman. You’re just some blood-crazed lazy guy who doesn’t know how how to use a screwdriver or pick a lock. And now, against all odds, I am you once again.

To say it’s odd to be playing Half-Life again, with new faces, better textures and moody light and shadow, would be overstating things. Black Mesa’s changes, additions and more 21st century rendering didn’t jump out at me, didn’t startle, didn’t make me feel as though I was playing something new and changed. That is not to criticise what the BMS team have done over the years – it’s a high compliment, in fact. BMS’s appearance segues naturally into my memories of Half-Life, so rather than dragging it kicking and screaming into 2012 technical standards, it’s more that I can now revisit a game that once meant a lot to me without being distracted by visible signs of ageing. It feels like I remember it feeling, whereas playing Half-Life 1 itself again today is not without its cringes.

The devs have been subtle in their changes, concentrating far more on atmosphere, lighting, character models and image fidelity than they have on alterations or even technical willy-waving. The result probably wouldn’t quite pass for a 2012 vintage game, in so much as if you saw screenshots of in a magazine not an OMG would pass your lips, but I’d give it a solid 2009. (Hey, maybe that’s the alternate scoring system all those big, self-regarding games sites have been looking for all these years. Halo 4: 2011/2012, etc). It doesn’t need to be any more high-tech than that – as it is already, there’s some incongruity between the modern look and a few more aged design sensibilities (such as the lack of subtle lighting to draw one in the correct direction, which did mean I spent a fair amount of time wandering in circles or futilely trying locked doors), and that doesn’t need exacerbating.

Most impressively, it feels slick. Given this is ostensibly made by amateurs, doesn’t cost money and is trying to recreate then improve upon a project that cost millions back in the 90s, that’s an achievement I take my hat off to. I don’t wear a hat because my head gets all sweaty, but you take my point. They’ve done very well. I honestly don’t know if having to recreate someone else’s work without screwing anything up is a taller or shorter order than making something from scratch, but it did seem like there were a million ways BMS could go horribly wrong, especially given the unnervingly long time it spent in development.

Beyond that, offering judgement on the game is a curious position to be in. It’s Half-Life, y’know? Whatever BMS gets right or wrong is because Half-Life got it right or wrong. But there are small changes that manage to make it something of a remix as well as a remastering. Some puzzles and are tweaked, expanded, there’s a little use of minor physics for challenges here and there, enemies can appear in different places and in different numbers… I don’t think anyone’s going to be bitterly exclaiming “shame on them for adding that bit where you have to stick a wheel onto a valve”, but you’re not going to blast through on muscle memory alone.

The other most noticeable change is to the NPCs – the scientists and Barneys who shelter in Black Mesa’s soon-to-be-ruins. There’s now a wide array of different faces (though not voices), so I didn’t feel as though I kept encountering the same guy over and over. Eli and Kleiner are very much individuals rather than templates, and that stretch in an early level where you can end up with three security guards following you means three separate faces, even if they are faces you’ll encounter repeatedly on other characters. There’s also a whole lot more dialogue, most of which has a heavy emphasis on rapid-fire gags, primarily from and about Black Mesa’s vast, cowardly nerd population.

This works better than it sounds – again, this is a slick affair rather than an amateurish one, and that extends to writing and voicework too – but the overall tone is perhaps a little more skewed towards romp than menace. Ideally I’d have it toned down a little, but overall I think I’m okay with it – after all, the Half-Life bestiary is probably too familiar by now to be terrifying again, no matter how many new pixel shaders are thrown at it. There’s a spot of gentle Half-Life 2 foreshadowing thrown in too, making this perhaps a slightly more natural prequel than the original Half-Life was.

Less potentially divisively and far more impressively, there’s also a slightly increased sense of vastness to Black Mesa – ceilings a little higher, caverns more cavernous and a near-constant semi-darkness that makes it a mercy the flashlight never runs out. Moody light and shadow adds to the game naturally, emphasising the looming, underground nature of Black Mesa rather than descending into grimdark gloom.

It is, needless to say, impossible for me to see Half-Life with anything like objectivity. Certain scenes are forever burned onto the retina of my mind’s eye – the hospital-esque coloured direction lines painted on the walls in Anomalous Materials, the water-ruined corridor beset by sparking electricity in Office Complex, the towering platforms and pervasive, thunderous banging noises of Blast Pit… I knew they were coming, I knew when they were coming, and I thrilled when they did. But I think – I think – Half-Life stands up very well in 2012. It’s scripted up the wazzoo, of course, and many of the first-person shooter industry’s later sins can perhaps be laid at its door for that, but it flows so well.

The unified location, the rollocking adventure of it all, the dramatic changes from indoor to outdoor and back again, the stomach-churning heights, the slow-burn of understanding and escalation of threat… It’s remarkable how long it takes to give you a pistol (and there’s an odd, doesn’t-quite-work stretch where you’re given flares to bother zombies with newly inserted ahead of that), and then again until machineguns and shotguns come into play. It’s a pacey, unhurried game that very much prioritises mood over adrenaline.

That said, despite all the rude things we say about Xen (not included here, famously – it’s saved for an update, God only knows when) there’s a bit too much emphasis on awkward first-person-platforming in the ‘main’ game, and that hasn’t dated as well as the setting and flow has. Quicksave needs abusing, and there were certain familiar jumping sections that I sighed at and had to force myself to play through, knowing that what lay beyond them would be worthwhile. It was, it really was, but I didn’t relish another round of pogoing across floating crates. Added to this by BMS’s devs is a pointlessly increased need for crouch-jumping, just for basic navigation. Silly business, that, but hardly a deal-breaker.

And, in the end, Black Mesa Source winds up being exactly what it always promised to be – a modernised, faithful recreation of a deservedly landmark first-person shooter. No alarms and no surprises, and that’s just fine. It remains an incredibly peculiar project for anyone to have embarked on unpaid, let alone for so long, but it’s polished, dramatic, has taken quite a few years off the old dear and, I rather suspect, will become the de facto way to play Half-Life from now on.

It probably shouldn’t exist, and frankly for a long time it looked like it wouldn’t. But it does and I’m glad of it. Half-Life 1 is better than Half-Life 2, after all (covers head, runs away).

Black Mesa is out now, and free.

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231 Comments »

  1. mikmanner says:

    Wow RUN MAN RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!

    • Nim says:

      Ladies and Gentlemen of the mob. It appears we are all out of tar and feathers. As a substitute we will use contact adhesive and spoons.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Really, are you being sarcastic? Where exactly is that opinion controversial? The under 17 crowd?

      • spetsky says:

        Hell, I’m 16 and Half Life is, and always will be, my favorite game.

      • Erithtotl says:

        Half Life is the Star Wars to Half Life 2′s Empire Strikes Back. Amazingly fun and fresh and new, but ultimately topped by it’s superior 2nd episode.

      • Matt_W says:

        35 y/o here. HL2 is objectively better. HL1 was a standard setter; when it came out the FPS genre had basically been stomped to death by cookie-cutter clones of Quake and Duke Nukem: play level to end, scoring screen, cut-scene, next level, which, more-often-than-not, is totally incongruent with the previous one. They were all like that and we were sick of them. HL1 (and, not insignificantly, Unreal) totally changed how the genre worked, refreshing it and sending it forward… almost 15 more years now. It’s impossible not to regard it as a landmark game. But really, can anything in HL1 compare to the epic Highway section, the escape from City 17 through the sewers, the running battle through the streets with the walkers, or, perhaps most especially, Ravenholm?

        I’ve commented before that one major difference between video games and movies is that, because of better technology, expanded budget, and expanded vision, video game sequels are very often better than the original, and it really takes nothing from the original to say so. We should be happy about it; it keeps our hobby interesting and enjoyable.

  2. Yosharian says:

    I think in certain respects it is not as good as the original HL1, though. There are little aspects that just don’t quite fit as well as they did. For instance, the sound design in a few places is feels inferior. Two examples: the blast pit monster’s ‘bang-bang-bang’ doesn’t sound quite as good. The snark sound effects aren’t as good.

    Minor issues though. They did an amazing job.

    • Quarex says:

      Agreed that overall it stands up marvellously, and clearly even improves on the original in some ways.

      About the sound, as well–I did not notice your concerns as much, but I was actually a tiny bit heartbroken in the test chamber. As the LOADING screen hit after Gordon pushed the sample in, I started excitedly shouting out the infamous (to me at least) klaxon sounds I was super-stoked to hear, only to find they had changed them to be much less apocalyptic-sounding. :( Still great all around, though. Very impressive. And I think the game might have actually been more fun if it had stopped where it did and then Xen had been Half-Life 1: Episode 1. Haha.

      • Cleave says:

        Yeah I was the same with the Klaxon, also there wasn’t a battery at the bottom of the elevator shaft after it falls down and I was running all over the place trying to find the crowbar, couldn’t believe they put it after the first zombies. Oh and I couldn’t seem to press the button in the lobby to get Barney in trouble :)

        • The Innocent says:

          Awesomely, you CAN get him in trouble. =)

          • Cleave says:

            ah I assumed you would be able to but there was a pesky scientist in the way. oh well, I’m sure I’ll play it again soon. I often have a play through of HL when I’ve got nothing to do for an afternoon :)

        • Duckee says:

          Barney doesn’t work there silly. He is the guard banging the door in the beginning of the game whilst your on the tram!

    • DXN says:

      I liked pretty much all the sound except for the re-voiced marines, personally. I mean, they did an okay job, but they sound pretty silly and too-young and like someone doing a bad solid snake impression.

      In fact, I put together a little mod that re-instates the original marines sounds which you can get from here: http://ge.tt/3NPHuBO/v/0 (not a spam link, ge.tt is a filesharing site).

      • Eukatheude says:

        That’s exactly what i needed, thank you. The marine voices are terribad.

        • Nevard says:

          I wish I could get a mod that replaced the word “terribad”

      • Tinman says:

        If you haven’t already, you should advertise your mod on a few forums/places. There are bound to be more people who find the original scratchy radio/cyborg sounding marine voices to be superior and would want this mod too. Me included. Thanks btw!

      • Ragnar says:

        Thanks for that. Will be useful when I give Black Mesa a try.

  3. liquidsoap89 says:

    “Half-Life 1 is better than Half-Life 2, after all.”

    Them’s FIGHTIN’ WORDS!

    Although I’ve only played HL1 once (not having played the expansions, and I have never beat the end boss), while I’ve played HL2 + the expansions for around 50 or more hours. So I think my bias shows a little there…

    • Hug_dealer says:

      I’m the opposite, played the original and expansions to death, played hl2 once, thought it was meh, way to themeparky for my tastes, everywhere you go it some grand setpiece, rather than seeming natural. So much so i havent bothered with any of the expansions for hl2, and personally havent really cared about if or when HL3 comes out.

      I am not saying that HL2 is a bad game at all, just that i found the original superior. Just opinions

      • Beelzebud says:

        The first one was superior to nearly every FPS ever made, however HL2 is too, so I’m not sure why you’d skip the second if you liked the first one so much. Even if HL2 isn’t as good has HL1, it’s still better than 99% of the FPS games out there.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          i didnt skip it. i skipped the episodes because i didnt find that hl2 that much fun.

          As i said, I am not saying that Halflife 2 is a bad game, just that it didnt really pull me in like the first did, as i said to themepark, where every where you is a new setpiece designed not to really work as a world, but make you go oh cool lok at that. thats not what i wanted.

          • Yosharian says:

            The HL2 episodes are even better than HL2…

          • Hug_dealer says:

            BY better i assume you are saying even more setpiecey and more themeparky………. no thanks.

            For anyone that does enjoy it. Good, my displeasure for a game should have no effect on your enjoyment of the game.

          • Red_Avatar says:

            Yeah I got to say, I thought Episode 1 was pretty horrible – a pain to play through. Episode 2 was better but still far too scripted and linear for its own good. Then again, Half Life 2 was made up of 50% great ideas and 50% dull ones. Episode 1 then took the dull ones and repeated them.

            I never understood why people worship HL2 that much though. Most of the chapters I can’t bring myself to replay because they have plenty of dull sequences or dull puzzles that simply take time to solve and little brain power. I loved Highway 17 and some other parts, but for every good part, there was at least one dull one. The city towards the end was extremely annoying – artificially linear design which felt so fake it killed immersion and the horrible team AI … .

            And then they release a “demo” called Lost Coast which shows exactly what HL2 should have been: great imaginative location, atmospheric setting, great map design allowing for tactical combat, etc. It’s like them saying “look, we CAN make it great, we just prefer sticking to an overrated story and adding dull bits”.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You’re basically right, Hug. I don’t see why you’d like the episodes if you didn’t like the main game, since the main changes they make to it are for the worse/futher from HL1. (Insert standard complaints about Alyx and dancing around on the spot waiting for NPCs to act here.)

      • BubuIIC says:

        I have similar experiences. I played HL1 twice, played the expansions, and am now really enjoying Black Mesa. I didn’t get into HL2, started playing it twice and both times I kinda lost interest after 2-3 hours. I don’t know why that is really… I’ll probably try again after finishing black mesa.

      • Persus-9 says:

        I’m the same. I think a lot of it was down to the way Freeman is treated. In Half-Life 1 he was a young junior researcher who was treated with mild condescension and made to do all the dangerous stuff. Even after the incident he was considered important only because he was wearing a suit that gave him a chance of surviving long enough to do something useful, they didn’t respect him particularly, they respected the suit. I liked that everyman role and I didn’t get on nearly so well when he was suddenly treated like someone hugely clever and important.

        I took three or four attempts to finally play through Half-Life 2. I enjoyed it in the end but the first few times the disappointment got in the way. Once I stopped comparing it to Half-Life and accepted it on its own terms I did enjoy it and when I moved onto the Episodes I found myself enjoying myself much more. They still aren’t anywhere near as good as Half-Life in my opinion but they were very good fun to the extent that I played through Episode 2 again to get the “Little Rocket Man” achievement and had great fun. I suppose that says quite a lot about my attitude to them, I enjoyed them much more when I took them less seriously where as I enjoy the original Half-Life because for all its silliness I can throw myself into it more and take it more seriously.

        • rapier17 says:

          Frankly I thought going from the unknown junior scientist to almost being deified an interesting psychological change. Humanity is in dire straits, repressed and enslaved, essentially, so they naturally, as humans do in adversity, look to a leading figure to rally to. Freeman was last seen going into Xen and he didn’t come back. Is he alive or is he dead? Those who escaped Black Mesa obviously spoke of Gordon Freeman and his name became bastardised, especially by the Vortigons, to be ‘The One Free Man’. Humanity, imprisoned so, wanted to believe in ‘The One Free Man’ so when Gordon -does- turn up it must seem to those in City 17 & the Resistance that it is like the Second Coming. I actually felt empowered by it, going from one to the other.

          On the whole I loved BMS, it felt wonderful to go through Black Mesa, to tread it’s corridors. I was surprised, several times, to realise I was going down a linear path but I felt as though I was in charge of where I was going in the game at all times. There were a few niggles, mainly the jumping (as mentioned) and some issues with their physics, but it was a glorious experience from start to end. So much I remembered, so much I had forgotten.

          (Although I was really disappointed that there were no references from Eli or Izzy about Alyx. Probably a wise move, may have ended up being corny, but would have been nice to see the references. I did love the reference from the ‘Barney’ to the original model of Gordon Freeman, the biker model who had a ponytail I think)

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Actually if you stick around for long enough and keep pressing E, I think you do get some dialogue from Eli about his family. Its after the accident, when standing in front of the pod with the headcrab. Just exhaust all the speech options.

          • rapier17 says:

            Ah I did that but didn’t get anything – maybe I just didn’t do it for long enough. I’ll go check it now – thanks :D
            EDIT: Was just one line, but it felt right. Good stuff.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Yeah I think it was something like him worrying about them, almost under his breath. No overplayed dramatics :) Just a shame they used the Barney voice actor for it, instead of hiring Morgan Freeman :D

          • DXN says:

            Yep — he says something along the lines of “I have to find some place safe for Isaac, so I can go and find my family”.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I agree I found HL2 a little meh. HL1 I replayed several times, 2 I felt was more a showcase for the engine than a game.

    • drewski says:

      Probably haven’t HL2′d quite as much as you, but I generally agree – HL was one and done, HL2 is repeated playthroughs.

    • GreatGreyBeast says:

      I guess it depends on the kind of gamer you are. HL2 doesn’t have the immaculately sculpted form and pacing of the original. It’s a more uneven game. But the highs are higher, the gameplay is broader. And it doesn’t have the platforming.

      My thing is that I carefully avoided spoilers going into HL2, and I think that was a mistake. The one thing it really didn’t do well for me was exposition. What the hell happened since I disappeared? Who is the Combine? Since when are the “alien slaves” our friends? I don’t mean to ask that the game lay everything out nice and neat like an encyclopedia, but… well. I guess the thing is that I didn’t notice Gordon was mute in the first game. It’s not like there was anything to say, and it was easy enough to learn what I needed to learn when I needed it. But I really noticed in the sequel, because there were lots of points where, had there been a dialogue tree, I would have used it because I had questions to ask, dammit. I felt weirdly unmotivated through at least the first third of the game because I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. I was taking it on very briefly explained faith who the good guys were or bad guys were. I didn’t even know if the guys in the Combine uniforms were aliens or what. I thought I was heading to the East wing of the real Black Mesa, as it only dimly occured to me that something was wrong with the arcitecture. I never got answers to my questions in game. It only got better because I eventually gave up waiting for the inevitable expository scene to answer my questions and just stopped asking them. The puzzles were great, the big bridge was cool. The ending was unsatisfactorily abrupt, but by the time I played it I knew there were sequels, so whatever.

      The bottom line is that, for me, HL1 felt like a complete, epic experience. Slow, escalating opening to madhouse conclusion. HL2, even just the base game, felt like an episode. The individual parts were probably better, on balance, than the original, but the total experience had no beginning and no end. It was all middle. It didn’t leave me feeling full and happy, the way HL1 or a big steak dinner does.

  4. AlwaysRight says:

    I probably should write something meaningful about this incredible and timeless game but I cant get ‘no surprises’ by Radiohead out of my head.

  5. Beelzebud says:

    I wish they had used the military grunt voices from the first game. They were much more creepy sounding. Other than that I think it’s worthy of the Half Life name. I’ve had more fun with it than a few games I’ve paid for recently.

    • SIDD says:

      I think that’s probably THE thing that bugged me the most; so many reviews of BMS have pointed out the “subpar voice acting” and I honestly think it’s only really obvious with “the grunts”

      • YourMessageHere says:

        I don’t find it dreadful, but I think the actual choice of words is a bit daft. Several times I’ve come up to a door and I’m just sorting out my guns prior to opening it and so on when I hear “DO IT!!!” floating contextlessly up out of nowhere. Often three times in a row. I shudder to think what these marines do to cope with the boredom. Best one was when I came on the rocket launch pad; I grabbed a barrel and rolled it out to the two marines standing with their backs to the door. It rolled out slowly and I got my shotgun ready. Then it hit one of them in the back of the knees. I tensed ready for him to whip round and shoot me in the face. His response? “DO IT!!!” So I did, and he entered orbit too.

    • DXN says:

      Oh, I posted this above but I probably should have done it here (hope I’m not posting this too much!) — I’ve put together a little sound-pack to put the original marine voices back in, which you can download from here: http://ge.tt/3NPHuBO/v/0 (not sure where else I can upload it, hl2files haven’t approved it yet… you can google ge.tt to see it’s a filesharing site).

    • Arachnyd says:

      Fortunately, someone has already made a mod (of the mod) to change the soldier voices to the original Half-Life voices. I’ve been playing with them, and it really triggers the old memories.

      http://forums.blackmesasource.com/showthread.php?p=504116

  6. povu says:

    ‘Added to this by BMS’s devs is a pointlessly increased need for crouch-jumping, just for basic navigation. ‘

    That’s probably the biggest issues I have with it. Which is impressive.

    • S Jay says:

      Well, I did not play HL 1, so, I am not sure if the problem is with the original or Black Mesa, but the platforming seemed a bit too much too often.

      • malkav11 says:

        That’s very much true of the original. One of several reasons why I’ve never understood the incredible level of esteem Half-Life is held in by many gamers and gaming media. It’s good, sure, but it’s not some sort of perfect transcendent game.

        • rapier17 says:

          But compared to everything else out there at the time, Half-Life was pushing the boundaries of the FPS at break-neck speed. It was a staggeringly great game in 1998 and with BMS it’s a staggeringly great game in 2012. There are so many things Half-Life did right; pacing, area design, the whole game in constant FPV without cutscenes or videos or any of that jazz, interesting set pieces & scripted parts that felt natural, even organic. Navigation felt right, as though you were truly in charge of Gordon’s destiny & could pick any route you wanted (although the route you do go down is linear BUT it doesn’t -feel- like it is). The small details really help the game as well, such as the ladders & service platforms etc which don’t go anywhere but are needed to complete the feel of areas – what it did in 1998 was lay the foundations for FPS’s post-2000.

          • LionsPhil says:

            SiN1 was doing real-world locations, but also interactive terminals (that you could read from a distance), vehicles (admittedly REALLY feeling the limits of early un-physics), an inventory system for pickups (which is more a case of not losing it from Duke3D’s era), optional objectives and a branching mission structure depending on how you do, stealth missions, some rather serious destructability in places, and even the now-ubiquitous support character in your ear (although you can trace that back to SysShock1, and possibly futher—but Shock’s awkward as a shooter, whereas SiN is fluid). Oh, and some technical things like locational damage, and even enemy armour drops being based on what you handn’t wrecked by shooting them.

            The continuous viewpoint and focus on really breathing depth into one location is, again, something SysShock 1 was doing. Half-Life 1 did it well, really well, but it stands on the shoulders of those before and around it quite a lot, like any other game.

          • DrGonzo says:

            @Lionsphil

            I wouldn’t say Sin really counts as it was doing those things very badly. Half Life wasn’t the first game to do a lot of the stuff it did, but it was the first to do it all right, as you say standing on the shoulders of giants or some such.

          • Jay says:

            The first SiN came out within weeks of Half-Life though, so it’s unlikely it was much of an influence. Just different folks headed in a similar direction, I suppose. Still a fun game once they patched out some of the more painful bugs, and certainly forward-thinking in its own way.

            It’s probably not a popular opinion, but I don’t think Goldeneye 64 gets the credit it deserves for some of this stuff, certainly in PC circles. It was doing real world locations, realistic(ish) weapons, stealth elements, optional objectives (which change considerably depending on difficulty level), elaborate inventories and locational damage more than a full year before either of those other two were released. Again it wasn’t the first for most of those things, but it was certainly one of the first to put it all together in such a compelling package.

            I was a dyed-in-the-wool PC gamer at the time, but ended up getting a ’64 just for that game as it really felt like there was nothing else like it out there at the time. Bear in mind its PC contemporaries were games like Quake 2, and short of a couple of multiplayer mods there just wasn’t much in the way of real-world shooters out there.

    • Baines says:

      Crouch jumping can be a pretty big issue though.

      It is a shame that they improved so many things, but intentionally made jumping *worse*.

    • Navagon says:

      It becomes a major issue when you’re faced with all those sodding trip mines. Hopefully they’ll fix it as everything else about it is astoundingly fantastic.

    • Moonracer says:

      indeed. I was actually surprised that with all the options in the menu we didn’t get a “modern jump” option or something to option out of crouch-jump. It would make the whole game a lot smoother and satisfying.

    • Werthead says:

      You can fix this easily. Go to the Black Mesa data files and look for the autoexe.cfg file. Open it with notepad and look for the lines (quite near the top):

      bms_normal_jump_vertical_speed “160″
      bms_normal_jump_crouch_vertical_speed “160″

      Adjust the numbers to 200, which more or less replicates the jumping from the original game, or higher if you want to avoid crouch-jumping for everything bar entering ventilation shafts.

      On the Black Mesa forums there’s also a way listed of making you auto crouch-jump every time you jump, which basically does the same thing from a different angle (and makes getting through the ventilation shafts mildly easier).

    • ZephyrSB says:

      There are times when I think I must be the only person on the planet to not have issue’s with HL1′s crouch jumping.

      Hell, I’m still trying to do it in modern FPS…

      • Schwerpunk says:

        You sure aren’t. As as I was playing through, I was thinking of the increased need for jump-crouching as a plus for Black Mesa. In my opinion, the original game doesn’t do a great job of integrating it often enough.

        I’d like more jump-crouching in PC games.

  7. DogKiller says:

    Chu-chu-chucklevision!

    • Gap Gen says:

      I salute the person who managed to get a Chuckle Brothers mug in this game.

      • Flobulon says:

        There was certainly no slacking in that department!

        • Lambchops says:

          Silly me!

          • Jigowatt says:

            Silly you.

            Thought the Chuckle Brothers mug was pretty hilarious… the first time! I kinda wish they’d only put one in the game though (i.e. just the security guard at the start of AM), rather than having them scattered throughout the facility. I dunno, I just liked the idea that this one guy in a New Mexico govt facility was a huge fan of an old British kids TV show!

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I’m glad, even proud, to say I destroyed every one I found. Talk about anomalous materials.

  8. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    I dunno if Half-Life 2 is better than Half-Life 1 but HL2′s excellence was expected, not how it would be excellent but we all expected whatever it did to be very good. HL1 however was this amazing unexpected experience and that unexpectedness makes all the amazing things it did that bit more special.

    • Yosharian says:

      Seriously. It blew everything else out of the water. It was utter genius for its era.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Yeah, Half-Life 1 at the time was just so many miles better than anything like it. Less than a year after Quake 2 and Unreal, it crouch-jumped so fucking far into the future in a way you very rarely experience nowadays. I still remember having a bit of weird teenage ephiphany during Surface Tension when I realised no matter what crazy shit comes up in the coming years it’s going to be worth hanging around in this life as long as possible just to see how far immersive videogames come. Decade and a half later and they really haven’t moved much further, but there’s some good signs.

      Half Life 2 was great. It carefully, cleverly built on Half Life and for that is technically a better game but that quantum leap from everything before Half Life to Half Life has, IMO, not been repeated since. And it held up to a replay, even before the Black Mesa makeover.

      Now if BMS could get to work on Deus Ex, maybe???

      • malkav11 says:

        Better than Quake and Unreal was not exactly a high bar. But as popular as those games may have been, they were not the cream of the FPS crop. Not even close. And while I can see where Half-Life would look revolutionary next to those games (which as far as I can tell pushed only the limits of 3D rendering technology), to me it’s pretty tame next to games like Marathon and System Shock, which predate it significantly.

        • Mman says:

          “it’s pretty tame next to games like Marathon”

          You could at least make a case for System Shock (then again, I find comparisons of straight FPS with RPG hybrids kind of unfair and pointless as they are focusing on completely different things), but I love the Marathon games yet find statements like this kind of funny given that on a base level Marathon is basically Doom/Quake with slightly heavier scripting and walls of texts in between the shooting stuff and exploring, however well written that text is. Hell, Unreal is pretty similar to the Marathon formula too, albeit with much less well-written text but more visual storytelling.

          • malkav11 says:

            And all sorts of innovations in gameplay – friendly NPCs, free mouselook aiming, health charged at wall stations instead of random pickups, vacuum environments, alternate fire modes, reloading, physics, swimming (in Marathon 2 and Infinity) and nearly every facet of gameplay made easily moddable and compartmentalized. These may not seem like big deals now, but they were way ahead of their time in 1994. And that’s to say nothing of the multiplayer modes (because, for starters, I never got to play them). Half-Life introduced what? In-game “immersive” cutscenes? Great, I guess. (I actively prefer the traditional cutscene approach unless you’re actually going to be able to do something to affect the outcome, since at least you can make cutscenes skippable.)

            I still think the Marathon franchise’s story is one of the best in the genre, incidentally.

            Edit: I guess that’s not fair, really. Half-Life’s crowning achievement wasn’t a list of novel features or gameplay innovations, but rather creating what may have been the first mostly believable FPS environment. Black Mesa does feel like a place in a way that FPSes predating it really did not in my experience. And that is something to celebrate, certainly.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          @malkav 11

          Yep, that’s to ignore System Shock (never played Marathon so can’t comment) but System Shock was a different kettle of fish, providing an alternative to the FPS genre that at the time hadn’t been produced to death yet.

          iD and EPIC were heavyweights of early FPSes and released Quake 2 and Unreal, which were amazing in their own way. The technology is one thing but having the artistry to utilise it in creating those beautiful, immersive alien worlds and sense of scale (especially Unreal) that you just hadn’t experienced before was unbelievable at the time. But that’s the point, those games were aged by pushing their technological boundaries, which were quickly expanding without them. Valve made a game that made use of the same technology but applied hollywood pacing, comic book story, and AI that felt real in that virtual world. All of which outlived the same technological progress.

          That’s how they won.

          System Shock started a separate limb on the gaming tree that I would always agree promised, and on the most part delivered, better games than ‘traditional FPSes’ but they’re not the same as the Half-Life’s of this world. Unfair and unnecessary to compare them.

          • malkav11 says:

            It’s a different approach to the FPS, but it’s still very much in the same genre.

        • DrGonzo says:

          Tame compared to Marathon? But Marathon did everything wrong where Doom did it right. Half Life came when technology could do things like that well.

          System Shock was good though.

        • Totally heterosexual says:

          Well it’s just that marathon was a piece of shit and HL was not.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Thinking about this further I realised something:

      Half-Life to Black Mesa = 15 years.
      X-COM:UFO Defense to X-COM:Enemy Unknown = 20 years

      Not sure where I’m going with that.

  9. serioussgtstu says:

    Anything less than 1970′s isn’t worth your time.

    • cjlr says:

      Silly man – RPS goes all the way to 1873!

      • serioussgtstu says:

        Indeed, but Horace the endless bear goes all the way back to the infinite ursine beyond, rendering this scoring system meaningless. So shove that up your meta-critique.

  10. MarigoldFleur says:

    I’d like it a lot better if all the crouch-jumping was turned into an automatic action rather than a pointless two-button process.

    • eks says:

      You mean like the “jump” action?

      Crouch jumping was just so unnecessary, I have no idea why they decided to put that into the spotlight.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I remember being completely stuck on HL1 for a long time because there was a stairwell blocked off by a metal crate that you had to crouch-jump over, and until that point crouch-jumping hadn’t been necessary for progress, so I assumed it was just blocked off by level design and I was supposed to be going somewhere else or blowing something up.

        More games should have mantling instead. (More games should be more like System Shock 1.)

    • RobinOttens says:

      I like the feel of a crouch jump. It feels fantastic to do a button press in the air to pull in your legs, and then land in a crouch. Adds some physicality. But I too felt there were a lot of ledges in Black Mesa where a normal jump should have been enough.

      • adam.jutzi says:

        Hear hear! At first I was a like: crouch jumping!? it’s been so long! Oh how I’ve missed you.

        Then crouch jumping kept crashing on my couch, and he ate all my fruit loops. I’m going to kill him in his sleep…

  11. andytizer says:

    For bugs, fixes and workarounds for Black Mesa visit: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Black_Mesa – if you discover a new fix, please add it in, no account required.

  12. BubuIIC says:

    I played the original Half Life for the first time 1,5 years ago. And I must say I was utterly amazed by the game. Not visually of course but everything felt just right and I really enjoyed playing it. The not so modern graphics were only secondary.

    There are a few additions in Black Mesa that feel like they just belong there. Like feeding crate and bodies to barnacles. I had to think for a moment “Wait that was not possible in the original, or was it?”. So I guess that’s a sign of how well the Black Mesa team captured the original.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Being able to feed Barnacles objects to get past them had featured during Half Life 2. But it was never really encouraged as a strategy because by the time you came across any Barnacles you already had enough ammo to just shoot them down. Where as with Black Mesa unless the security guard you first come across gets killed (not accusing anybody of anything), you wont have any sort of gun when you comes across your first batch of them, and even when you do get one you would be at the point where you’re encouraged to converse ammo.

      I noticed a similar effect from not giving the player a Gravity Gun, it kind of highlights how much the Half Life games benefit when you limit the player’s resources.

      • LionsPhil says:

        There’s one section in HL2 where Valve give you ramps with explosive barrels at the top and clumps of barnacles at the bottom, as if to almost patronisingly set up the situation for you to feed them burning death.

        Still, by this day and age, the average FPS would have a non-interactive cutscene take over when you pushed the barrels, so that nothing could be peturbed by physics or player input and deviate from the awesome sequence of events, possibly with quip from the protagonist.

  13. The_B says:

    For some reason my brain read “crouch jumping” as “crotch” jumping and for a second all I could think about was that the headcrabs had started aiming a bit lower. Eep!

  14. Beelzebud says:

    I love the conventional wisdom that says the source engine doesn’t look good anymore. Compared to what, Crysis 2? Hell, I still haven’t seen a game nail facial animations as good as Half Life 2, and it came out in 2007.

    • skinlo says:

      Half Life 2 came out in 2004. You mean Episode 2?

    • Yosharian says:

      That’s because people love to try to be cool and act like Source is old hat.

      To be fair though, the main reason FPS engines haven’t progressed much lately is due to publishers wanking off over the console market. Devs are stuck with these fucking ancient platforms, there’s not much they can do.

    • Lemming says:

      In total agreement with you.

      We still had people going ‘tut, still Source though innit?’ about Portal 2!

      I mean what do they expect another couple of steps closer on the million-step journey to photo-realism would really change about it? And who says we want all games photo-realistic?

      I’d love to hear a valid reason as to why Source is old hat, but I’ve yet to hear a single one.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Um, you haven’t played LA Noire have you? I’ll criticize the game for many things (I didn’t bother finishing it because the mechanics were rather meh), but the face tech blows *anything* out of the water and probably will for many years to come.

      HL2 was good with faces, but it’s barely a candle to LA Noire’s fire.

      • Yosharian says:

        Yeah, too bad the actual game was balls.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I actually think the face animations in that game were fairly terrible. Mostly because they had tried so hard for real faces that it showed all the more that it’s just robot dolls. It looked downright weird at times. Especially the main guy. I never got used to his face and it’s weird otherworldly movements.

        I’ll take Half Life 2 or Heavy Rain facial animations over that.

        It should be noted that I played it on my 360 and that might have had something to do with it? The game generally felt grainy and bad on that one.

        Edit: and it certainly didn’t help that the uncanny valley doll faces were put on low polygon stiffly animated bodies. I can see what they were trying for but I think they took a dive into the valley.

        Again, I think Heavy Rain, despite its other flaws, did faces better. The slight exaggeration of all the faces avoided them looking too weird.

        • Ninja Dodo says:

          Thing is the LA Noire method depends entirely on capture so it’s inherently unsuitable for anything non-scripted, whereas Source can be used for more dynamic stuff even if it loses out on the detail. If they reworked the Faceposer tech to have more detailed musculature and some kind of elaborate dynamic emotion AI that responds to player action it would kick LA Noire’s ass up and down the sidewalk.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Saints Row 3′s facial animation is quite nice, I’m noticing during the weekend. Technically I don’t think Source has much to worry about, but the actual animating/capture is quite well done.

  15. DickSocrates says:

    As someone who came to HL1 in 2002 for the first time and HL2 in 2008, I can attest that neither of them are any good and all the love is pure nostalgia. I hate both of them. I tried Black Mesa and hated that too.

    I hate Half Life. I am the one. I do exist.

    • Persus-9 says:

      I was going to suggest the rest of us hunt you down and sacrifice you some dark god or other, possible Gabe Newell, but then I remembered that I don’t care for Deus Ex so I’ve decided I don’t want to set any precedents.

      • Fanbuoy says:

        Excellent! If people keep this thread going the coming inquisition will have no problem finding victims! Er, I mean heretics, naturally!

      • tobecooper says:

        You’re going straight to the Black List, Persus-9. The Hive Mind does not care much for Half Lives, but being indifferent towards Deus Ex?! That’s a cardinal sin, right there. Blasphemy of the highest order. Expect augmented cyborg assassins arriving at your place in a couple of minutes.

        P.S Don’t expect the inquisition.

      • Sleepymatt says:

        Sharpen your pitchforks, light the torches…. it’s huntin’ time!!!

      • Rise / Run says:

        Welp, I agree with you, I opine that Deus Ex is terribly overrated. (SS2, however, is amazing). I’d also chime in that I initially preferred HL1 to HL2 (I was quite disappointed by HL2 on first playthrough). But going back, I’ve enjoyed them both for their separate charms.

    • sinister agent says:

      I am Captain Compromise, and I’ve never really liked either of them. I much prefer the first one, and played through it a couple of times, but the mere thought of trudging through another interminable vehicle section with those crappy,weedy guns in Half Life 2 makes me feel a bit ill.

      I can see why it’s groundbreaking and impressive and important and that. I just don’t enjoy playing it. To be honest, all the fuss about Black Mesa has left me rather bewildered from the start.

      But then, I thought Quake was a load of old brown shite, so what do I know.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I had no idea what people saw in Quake back when it came out. It was the CoD of the nineties, all heeeurgh! gun fantasy and deathmatch and little to no substance.

        • Archonsod says:

          Polygons.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            That explains it then because I still play things like the original MOO. Getting all worked up over cutting edge technology when there will be something better in a few months never made a lick of sense to me.

          • PoLLeNSKi says:

            Yes Quake was completely overrated, I have no idea how the huge modding scene involved with it came to create the Team Fortress mod or how the then advanced engine technology was modified to create the original Half Life engine and hence Source as well.

            Speaking of Quake mods, as a defrag fan I really don’t understand this hatred for jumping puzzles in an FPS, it doesn’t take that long to learn to control your positioning.

          • malkav11 says:

            Moddability and the potential of the engine are separate issues from whether Quake, the game itself, was any good. I mean, people (including Bioware themselves, later) did some incredible things with the NWN toolset, and CDProjekt and Obsidian both managed to hack the Aurora engine into some pretty amazing creations, but that didn’t stop NWN, the game released in the box, from being shit.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            So i am supposed to like Quake the game because it was a breakthrough engine and had an active modding scene?

            That doesn’t make any sense, and is sort of my point. If Quake makes possible others game I would like better why not play those instead of Quake? I am sure all sorts of advances in software design have been made in mannshooter 1-50 for the PS3 and Xbox, that doesn’t mean I want to play those games.

          • Snakejuice says:

            “Moddability and the potential of the engine are separate issues from whether Quake, the game itself, was any good.”

            Well it’s not a separate issue really. It was a really good engine, and the way to get that engine was to buy Quake. The engine and moddability was half the reason the game got as big as it got, many of us spent more time modding/trying mods than actually playing the game. I know I never finished Quake SP, I did love the DM tho, 200 ping ftw, and pushlatency wasn’t even invented back then.

            What I’m trying to say is that Quake as a deathmatch-arena game got a bigger playerbase because it ran on a good, solid and moddable engine. Oh and it did real 3d models and I know I was really, really tired of the “2.5d” engines at the time.

            Oh and IIRC it was also among the first games to support hardware accelerated 3d and textures with bilinear-filtering. I still fondly remember my Voodoo 1 that I was able to afford once the Voodoo 2 was released!

          • malkav11 says:

            No, really, it’s a separate issue. The game may have sold well because it was a good engine and there was a strong modding scene (though to me it’s always looked a lot like someone vomited on a box of legos), but that still doesn’t have anything to do with whether Quake was a good game.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “I can attest that neither of them are any good and all the love is pure nostalgia.”
      An “internet man” has said something subjective/untrue/incorrect! I must notify the media!

      Prepare the carrier pigeons!

      To be more precise, I’d say that they are OLD games, not BAD games. Those two are not necessarily the same thing.

      • Mman says:

        To be fair, based on the rest of the post I’m guessing that part was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. At least I hope so because if not then that post is off-the-charts egotistical.

    • Metonymy says:

      It was a cringe-inducing quake mod, and like the RPS article said, every sin of modern FPS can be laid at it’s feet. I despise Half-life, and what it did to gaming. It was the “Apple” of games, zero innovation or content but lots of presentation.

      The realism was stifling and unnecessary. The scientist/teleport stuff was just a rehash of Doom/every fps ever.

      The story and scripting was undesirable, I wanted to play a game, not listen to someone’s B-movie alien invasion story.

      Every event and set piece was centered around the limits of rendering engines, rather than something in an artist’s mind.

      There were only a handful of enemies, and they were too strong individually, didn’t work properly in groups.

      These are all the things wrong with modern FPS games.

      • Mman says:

        “There were only a handful of enemies, and they were too strong individually, didn’t work properly in groups.”

        The rest is opinion but everything about this sentence is pretty much objectively wrong. There are very few FPS games I can think of that even come close to HL1′s enemy variety (let alone surpass it), and they work in groups and are combined in various ways throughout. Saying HL1 has only a handful of enemy types almost makes me question whether you’ve even played it.

        • Metonymy says:

          Um, ok. Headcrab, zombies, sonic dog, zappy humanoid blobs, turrets, soldiers. That’s six. It’s true that I was never able to make it far into this game, it’s really that bad. I know there were a few blobs at the end too, that were supposed to be enemies.

          Even if you can list 20 enemies, that doesn’t change the fact that the entire experience was moody and lacking in gameplay, which was the point. You vaguely wander along a CORRIDOR, a major design error I neglected to mention in my first point, and bump into one or two enemies at a time, followed by 5 minutes of navigating a blockmap.

          If you find that acceptable design, it’s actually impossible to discuss this problem with you.

          • Srethron says:

            Just queried the internet for a Half-Life wiki which says there are 19 enemies. The rest of your argument doesn’t seem worth discussing since (1) you’ve encountered not even half of the enemies, let alone the compositions thereof; (2) your seeming dislike for fundamental design choices in the game such as linearity and refusal to acknowledge those choices as valid, in any game, ever.

          • LionsPhil says:

            So that’s the headcrabs which do lunge-ambushes, but become very vulnerable at maneuvering the rest of the time; the shambling zombies which are your basic moves-straight-toward-you low-threat cannon fodder; the houndeyes that group up in packs and flee and hide when challenged, reforming afterwards; the vortigaunts which have a charge-up ranged attack that encourages you to move up to hit-and-run tactics yourself; turrets that are usually impractical to combat directly and are best evaded; and the human soldiers which are famous for their excellent co-operating, flanking AI, flushing you out with grenades straight into a guy with a shotgun.

            Sure is an unvaried set of opponents, there.

            Not pictured: the barnacles, to keep you sharp about your environment and thinking vertically; bullsquids (which eat headcrabs) with their slow projectile to get you into sidestep-dodging; tentacles to encourage distraction tactics and moving quietly…

          • Metonymy says:

            You just stated a bunch of nonsense. There are not 19 enemies: please, don’t be an idiot. And as I stated, their difficulty isn’t moderated properly. It’s spiky and obnoxious. One playthrough can be a snoozer, while on the next you’ll be constantly scraping for every shred of health because a few headcrabs bounced the wrong way. That is true for ALL enemies.

            Half-life is responsible for the existence of pigslop like call of duty, and you won’t even acknowledge your own willful involvement in this compromise, this failure. Disavow garbage, or you become garbage yourself, by your own desire and choice.

          • Mman says:

            This enemy list comes out at 16, but it’s missing a few things like the Tanks and Baby Headcrabs and Turrets, so the truth actually is about 19: http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Half-Life/Enemies

            And Headcrab AI is 99% predictable (and just about every other enemy for that matter), so, again, what you’re saying about randomness is objectively wrong. There is a small bug that can make Headcrabs jump at strange angles, but it’s incredibly rare and if you’re staying alert it’s a non-issue.

          • LukeNukem says:

            1 Vortigaunt
            2 Bullsquid
            3 Headcrab
            4 Houndeye
            5 Barnacle
            6 Tentacle
            7 Gargantua
            8 Ichthyosaur
            9 Alien Grunt
            10 Snark
            11 Gonarch
            12 Nihilanth
            13 Human Grunt
            14 Human Assassin
            15 Zombie

          • YourMessageHere says:

            and not forgetting:

            16 baby headcrab
            17 AH-64 Apache helicopter
            18 M1 Abrams tank
            19 M2 Bradley APC

            do shotgun grunts and SMG grunts count as different enemies? They certainly behave differently.

          • LionsPhil says:

            20 Barney, after you’ve “accidentally” tapped him gently on the head with your crowbar, then run off giggling.

      • noclip says:

        Get a load of this guy.

    • YogSo says:

      I can attest that neither of them are any good and all the love is pure nostalgia

      Yes, because people didn’t start praising HL1 until a couple of years ago, when “nostalgia” had already clouded their judgements. When it was originally released, no one paid any attention to it, and even less played it.

      Oh wait.

    • wodin says:

      “I’m not keen on HL1 or HL2 or Deus Ex or Deus Ex Rev….”

      I shout then run as fast as possible crouch jumping my way to safety as the RPS hive come after me pitchforks at the ready…

  16. HumpX says:

    I guess I’m in the minority when it comes to Xen. I thought it was decent. It was the end boss fight that was flaky and unsatisfying.

    • RobinOttens says:

      Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

    • Vorphalack says:

      I will never forgive Xen for making me spend an hour with the long jump module which worked sometimes, aiming for platforms hundreds of feet above the ground which may or may not have collision enabled, making me feel lost in a strictly linear game by obfuscating the path with tiny hidden portals.

      I liked the concept of Xen as a final level, and the inside-bits-with-no-long-jump-platofrms were actually decently creepy in that hybrid alien army kind of way. Irredeemably let down by the long jump though.

    • rapchee says:

      i liked it all. and replayed it many times. i really hope they do finish black mesa, and not listen to all those naysayers

    • Werthead says:

      Xen had some irritating moments to it, but it came to about one hour out of a 12+ hour game. It was hardly the total dealbreaker some make it out to be, and in fact the visual design of the place and the idea of seeing the Xen monsters in their natural environment (like the blast pit monsters) was pretty cool. It was also a nice visual change after spending more than ten hours in a succession of grey corridors.

      It’s a bit like complaints about the mutants you fight in FAR CRY: yeah, there’s a few bits where it’s annoying, but the amount of time you spend fighting the mutants alone with crappy weapons is an incredibly small part of the game. The far more interesting human enemies come back in force later on, and you can usually get them and the mutants to fight one another whilst you mop up the remnants with the better late-game weapons or just sneak past. Going by some reactions you’d think the DVD-ROM had just leapt out of the PC and decapitated a beloved family pet.

  17. Lambchops says:

    There’s also a whole lot more dialogue, most of which has a heavy emphasis on rapid-fire gags, primarily from and about Black Mesa’s vast, cowardly nerd population.

    I found this to be a very mixed bag. There were some amusing asides at times but there was a vast over-reliance on cringy exclamations of “by [insert scientist]‘s [insert feature/belonging]!” that I found kind of jarring, if only because that’s not how we scientists tend to talk!

    Enjoying the Black Mesa experience so far though, looking forward to seeing how the marines turn out.

    • Jigowatt says:

      I know what you mean, but the scientists in Half-Life were similarly caricatured to an extent, so I felt BMS did a great job of keeping that slightly ‘over-the-top’ feel. What always grated on me in Half-Life was when you got a scientist to follow you and they’d say: “With my brains and your brawn, we’ll make an excellent team!”.

      • MD says:

        That was my favourite of all their lines. :)

      • Rise / Run says:

        I would just like to point out that, as a scientist, THAT is exactly how we talk. At least if we’re trying to pick up a brawny guy/girl at a bar (or an alien invasion).

        • drewski says:

          I think the point is that Gordon “PhD from MIT” Freeman can probably match up with the nerds just fine in the brains department.

          • Jigowatt says:

            Precisely. It is admittedly a funny line, but at the same time…it made no sense! Considering that everyone in the facility seems to know your name, they must also know that you are a theoretical physicist who can rival them in intelligence! I dunno, to me it always gave the impression that you were just a mindless grunt, rather than a fellow boffin!

          • LionsPhil says:

            Well, that suit isn’t power armour, until you get the long-jump module. Gordon must be pretty damn fit for all the running about he does in the thing, smashing crates open with a crowbar in one-handed overhand swings.

            And he’s the office newbie, fresh out of that PhD. He probably is low on the smarts pecking order around the place.

            Even before morphine addiction ruined his brain. Automatic medical system engaged.

  18. ElPoco says:

    I guess I’m the only person who had more fun with SIN than HL when they came out, and who still doesn’t think of either HL as more than “good FPSes”.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I played SiN 1 for the first time within the last year.

      It’s better than Half-Life in a lot of ways. And Episodes is likewise better than HL2. Turns out the oversexualised teenage-fantasy bondage-queen antagonist wasn’t actually there to distract from a crap game.

      What it doesn’t have is HL1′s sense of place, because it’s a globe-trotting series of missions with briefing screens.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I haven’t played SiN in over a decade I guess so I’m hazy on the details. I remember it being mindblowingly good for the first bit, with the helicopter and shooting humans. Then it turned to shit, in m mind, with the mutants or aliens or something like that.

      It’s the same problem I have with Far Cry. I like the first bit of the game but hate all the mutant stuff. Whatever flaws Far Cry 2 had, at least it had no damn mutants.

  19. Mr. Mister says:

    Fun Fact: Dev commentary reveals that delaying the aquisition of the pistol while giving you flares to set sombies on fire, as well as relying on someone following you with a pistol to help you take them out was what Valve initially intended for HL2:EP1 (After you exit the Citadel). Only Alyx would only shoot at iluminated enemies (flashlight, flares, ambeince lights or being in fire).

    I like to think the BMS team took it from there.

  20. ResonanceCascade says:

    I wonder if any other game will ever blow my mind the way Half-Life did in the late 90′s. It has more unforgettable moments in its first two hours than most games released on most years put together.

  21. Neario says:

    Yeah so uhmmm. How do I put this:
    So uhmm I never played Half-Life(or 2 or episodes). Yeah I played HL2 for some minutes.
    Decided to download Black Mesa, and now I have bought the Half-Life pack on steam.
    Great game. and I think that that says enough. that someone who never played Half Life, still can play it now in 2012.

  22. valouris says:

    I cant think of a better compliment than this. Valve Quality. Nuff said.

  23. Slinkyboy says:

    RPS hardly disappoints. Thanks guys.

  24. kyrieee says:

    I know it doesn’t pull of the same kind of graphical trickery that a high end 2012 game does, but I still think it looks damn good. I was continually impressed by it, I just love their rendition of the facility. The moment when you exit the sewer pipe onto the cliff edge is better than it ever was.

  25. rockman29 says:

    Imo, this is the best SP FPS ever made. It’s better than Half-Life 2, Half-Life 1, and Duke Nukem 3D.

    Maybe not better than Doom though… :)

  26. RagingLion says:

    Thank you Alex. I will now take this as my signal as one who has never played Half Life 1, to instead play Black Mesa and feel like I’m getting a good impression of what the original game is really like.

  27. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Overall I loved it. There were some great level design changes – but also some stuff was cut, like On A Rail is slashed in half, and some other battles I expected were gone, like fighting the rocket-firing tank and distracting its rockets with my own RPG laser…. some other things changed that confused or frustrated me, things in the Lambda Reactor water tanks and such, but overall it was fantastic. I just had long load times and crashes during the helicopter fight. Also I missed the huge explosion that happens when you’re in between two buildings on the surface that hints at them nuking the labs.

    But I was absolutely floored with it. It was just brutally difficult in parts. I can’t wait for Xen!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Those seem like some pretty hefty cuts.

      • Guiscard says:

        I miss the full On A Rail. Reading their forums, it was cut down because players found its labyrinth nature “confusing” to players and it was labelled as filler by the devs. But that always felt like the point. You were supposed to be lost down there in a dark abandoned train system where it was awkward to tell where you were. That made the feeling of getting out of there and finding the objective – the satellite launch – that much more satisfying.

        Its like that bit on the end of Ravenholm in HL2, where you have to go through a mine and then up the tunnel and literally into the light. The mine sequence itself isn’t fun and its not meant to be. But on an emotional level that allows you to be that much more relieved when you reach daylight and civilisation (in the form of Combine snipers…)

        Surface Tension also cuts one of my personal favourite parts: the marine who notices you in a pipe and throws a satchel charge in it. The explosion causes a fireball to travel right into your face. It was so awesome back in 1997.

        On A Rail (and Surface Tension too to a lesser extent) were used narratively to convey that the Marines were getting slaughtered down there. The piles of pre-placed Marine bodies with aliens near them in the transit system made it clear that the fight was not going well. When one combines these cuts in BMS to both these chapters with the Marine AI – which in my playthrough was super effective against the aliens and did not lose a single confrontation – you lose sight of why they are withdrawing. By the time you get the radio message at the beginning of Forget About Freeman, it seems like the Marines are actually winning.

        I really hope they decide to restore the cut parts. Obviously with some changes – changing tracks by shooting a sign isn’t going to cut it in modern gaming, a button on the tram would be more appropriate these days – but I don’t see that catering to those who are too indoctrinated with the “go here, shoot this” mentality of modern FPS’s by removing the more difficult to navigate sections actually helps the overall experience. These bits were there for a reason in the original.

        • YourMessageHere says:

          Completely agree. Plus, some of the fights vs. Marines down there were great fun. As someone who much prefers human enemies to aliens generally (HL not so much, the HL aliens are much better thought out and consistent, very little “we can do impossible stuff that you can’t because aliens lol” ass-pulling going on) and likes claustrophobic, interconnected environments with lots of backtracking, this part was a highlight of the original for me.

          One thing I really liked in the original was the level where you come onto a long straight with a multiple rocket launcher at the other end, and the only way to survive was to duck and stay ducked. There’s a bit near the end of the chapter in BM where the marines blow up a tram with a mounted MG though, so I took that as a sort of notice of changed intentions.

      • Mman says:

        In Surface Tension’s case the devs have said the reason it was cut down was because the mapper for that section left part-way through and they didn’t have time to finish it as a result. That also somewhat applies to On A Rail too (they had more but then it was cut because it wasn’t up to the standards of the rest). Given the reasoning that does give me some hope they might revisit those parts later.

  28. Sardonic says:

    I was annoyed by how many crouchjumps you have to do to progress in certain areas. Otherwise, it was very solid.

  29. noilly says:

    Maybe it’s because HL1 was such a formative experience of childhood that I think HL1 > HL2, but Black Mesa confirms that this relationship is true. The lack of signposting reminded me of how much games can provoke exploration and imagination beyond the polygonal walls. Single player FPS’s are linear by nature but don’t need to be amusement park rides. I actually paced myself through the chapters rather than blasting from set piece to streamlined set piece. Congrats to the team for getting it done.

  30. Comradebluesky says:

    Nice Radiohead reference!

  31. Servizio says:

    A PSA for anyone who reads this far and has trouble enjoying Half Life 2 and it’s episodes: A really fun way to play HL2 is to turn the difficulty up all the way and turn off your hud and your reticule. You depend on the voice cues from your HEV suit and have to really watch your aim. Highly recommended. By me.

  32. Sorbicol says:

    So far my experiences of this are crashes to desktop, event triggers not triggering meaning progression grinds to a halt and chronic motion sickness after 20 minutes of playing.

    Despite that though it is a remarkable achievement all things considered. Not sure that HL1 was ever better than HL2. Those jumping puzzles and the Xen levels have a lot to answer for.

  33. Lagwolf says:

    Maybe try to download again. Every time I tried last week the download was corrupted.

  34. Radiant says:

    This is like seeing your first girlfriend again.
    Not the one in primary school but the one that, when she left, taught you the world was a piece of shit.

    When you talk, when you hold her hand, the years of bastard are replaced by the snow white ding dong love that you’ve told yourself is how you are with your wife /right now/.

    Half life fucking ruined other games and this is just going to do it all over again.

    • Radiant says:

      oh and now her tits are magnificent?
      Fuck out of here.

      • YourMessageHere says:

        Quite agree.

        …you’re talking about the assassins, right? And those nice shiny suits…right?

  35. Paul says:

    I really do not understand all the complaints about crouch jumping. Is it really that hard to press space and second after ctrl ? Really?

    • Harlander says:

      It’s surprisingly bad – especially if you need to sprint over a gap then crouch-jump. The usual keyboard layout isn’t well suited for pressing space, shift and control in quick succession

    • Mist says:

      I’ve played a lot of HL2DM, with crouch bound to my mouse-thumb-button, so I haven’t even really noticed that there were issues with crouch-jumping: I do it automatically, everywhere.

      But I can imagine that if you’re not used to the motion and have to fumble around with your pinky, it can be a challenge.

      That’s the thing: platforming doesn’t have difficulty settings. I found it very pleasant to smoothly hop around the levels with the familiar movement physics. Someone who finished HL2 once 8 years ago might not have such a great experience with the platforming sections.

    • Carra says:

      Difficult? Not at all. There’s just no use in having it, just let the standard jump go a bit higher and remove the crouch jump.

      Plus, I was stuck in the explosives room for quite a while. Looking at a walkthrough I realised that I could not do a regular jump over them, I had to use a crouch jump. It was just frustrating to be stuck for something that silly.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Crouch-Jumping isn’t difficult, but it can be unintuitive for people who aren’t FPS savvy. I would say it’s best left as a useful trick for finding secrets or getting an edge in combat, but shouldn’t be required to beat a single player game.

      • LionsPhil says:

        The timing, in particular, is a bit strange, and it’s both conceptually weird (at best, you can pretend it’s sort of a hurdle vault?) and there’s no feedback in your view of if doing it right, since it’s in a first person game with invisible legs.

  36. Demiath says:

    I’m a huge singleplayer PC shooter fan, but the Half-Life series never did much for me. I remember thinking at the time that the long opening scene of HL1 was strangely reminiscent of a cheap Disneyland ride due to its obvious artificiality and thinly veiled non-interactivity (the comparison to structurally less ambitious but more free-form and arguably more honest contemporary shooters such as Quake 2 is important here, although not for the reasons HL fans tell themselves). And while Half-Life 2′s unparallelled facial animations and realistic environments were undoubtedly impressive, the dreary Eastern bloc setting and anemic shooting mechanics – the Gravity Gun being the obvious, innovative exception – ultimately left me cold. And don’t get me started on the supremely forgettable “episodes” (the painfully dull mine part in EP2 was especially bad).

  37. brulleks says:

    “such as the lack of subtle lighting to draw one in the correct direction, which did mean I spent a fair amount of time wandering in circles or futilely trying locked doors”

    This, I had no problem with – it only took encountering each kind of door once to work out whether it would or would not lead anywhere. E.g. those with green lights, yes, those with red, no. Those with emergency exit bars, yes, those with no handles at all, no.

    What bothered me most (and before I whinge about it, I should point out that I love this mod and think it is probably the most impressive I have seen in all my years of PC Gaming) is that, after 12 years, the ladders in Half-Life still don’t work probably and lead to more deaths than the enemy AI.

    Someone should have called Health & Safety on Black Mesa waaaaay before the whole resonance cascade event.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Major fracture detected.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      You press E to get on and off the ladders. The game literally moves you, safely, onto and off of it.
      Once you realise this, there is no more falling and flailing around trying to grab a rung mid-fall.

      Dont know if it was in the original, but its in BM.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I believe that’s a Half-Life 2-ism, that presumably BMS has included.

      • Guiscard says:

        I think its a stock Source engine feature. Half-Life 2 at the least has it. Amazing that most people seem not to have noticed even 8 years after the game’s release.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          When I found it in BM thats exactly how I felt: OMFG HOW MANY TIMES DID I DIE POINTLESSLY :) Must have played the original about 20 times or so. Now I need to go back and check to see if E works in all of them.

      • brulleks says:

        You’re shitting me? Why, then, still include the default sticky-ladder-attachment?

        And why not mention it as a tutorial?

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          OK I just did the Half Life 1 (Source Version) Tutorial level / Hazard Course. When it got to the ladder, the nice holographic lady told me to just walk up to it and stick to it. Pressing E does nowt, so yeah it looks like the BM team added it.

          Was there a tutorial prompt in BM for crouch jump or did I just remember it from the original?

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          @brulleks the community probably asked for both so you have a choice. But yeah, it would have been a good idea to let us know it was in there :)

      • YourMessageHere says:

        For those of us who rebind, E is use/pick up, right?

  38. best_jeppe says:

    The thing I like with HL1 (and of course BMS) is the fact that it feels like I am exploring a world and making it through on my own. There isn’t any directional arrows that say “go here” but I have to find the way through myself and since the way through doesn’t only consist of running through corridors but going through ventilations, train tracks, sewers and so forth which makes me feel like I am going experiencing the world on my own. It is of course completely linearly and designed to be that way but it is done so good that it doesn’t feel intrusive.

    Add to that the varied and interesting enviroments, fun gameplay and a high production value and so on and I find it to be a really enjoyable experience.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      This is absolutely the crucial difference that makes people enjoy HL/BM and find CoD patronising and insulting to the intelligence. No floating moron-attractor labelled ‘Follow’.

      • best_jeppe says:

        Yeah, I can’t stand CoD (or Battlefield) from that aspects. Feels so goddamn boring just to be told what to do the whole time with no cerebral challenge at all.

  39. Very Real Talker says:

    the mod is absolutely impressive technically. But it made me realize how not so good most of half-life is. Some of the sections are great even by today standard, and the fights with the special troops are amazing in black mesa. But most of the game is just walking along metal corridors, basements, silos and so on, until you have a flash and a few weak enemies appear. It’s boring, it’s useless, it destroys any tension the game can create.

    Playing black mesa made me realize how much of an improvement the hl2s are over the original game. I don’t think being so faithful to hl1 was the right choice- certainly not recreating all the filler content with no gameplay value save for some stupid jumping. The way the game looks, they could have made something that felt really tense by adding some more challenging- and unexpected- fights, by making you feel hunted by the alien beasts while traveling through some abandoned area, and so on

    • Mman says:

      “until you have a flash and a few weak enemies appear”

      This is more of a problem with Black Mesa’s current messed up balance on the Aliens which, with a couple of exceptions, makes them far less threatening than in the original game and nowhere near as good a building tension. Hopefully that can be ironed out pretty soon though.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I found the enemies easy because the BM team had so accurately recreated their behaviour. I knew how to handle them because I learned how to 10 years ago (not to mention many, many replays). There are only minor tweaks in BM – vorts fire faster, the houndeyes are more disorienting, and bullsquids have a higher chance of hitting you. Apart from that though, the combat and weapon handling is what I remember, and that amazed me. They nailed the feel so well.

    • best_jeppe says:

      I actually feel the complete opposite. The fact that there isn’t so much action makes it very tense because I am always expecting action around the corner and when that doesn’t happen my tension builds up. It is kind of ery when it is so decelet but you know something can pop up at any moment. I wouldn’t say that I am scared when I am playing the later chapters but I am certainly a bit nervous when playing. And that I think is a real complimant to the team because I get so immersed in the game.

  40. mollemannen says:

    don’t get why first person platforming is such a problem for some people. i practically speedran trough black mesa and what i don’t like is that the game loads automatically when you fall of high stuff. you need to be punished for not learning your characters movement correctly.

  41. Carra says:

    I had only played HL2 plus expansions. I tried out HL1 a few years ago but I couldn’t get into it, it felt a bit too outdated.

    So now, I’ve finally finished it (well, except Xen) through Black Mesa. And I can see why this game is such a classic. The atmosphere and level design in this game are simply amazing. The voice work is very good and the graphics look good. Slightly outdated, yes, but that didn’t bother me in the least.

    It’s not perfect. I was stuck more than a few times where it was unclear where I should be going to, something I didn’t have with HL2 for example (I think the Valve monitored where everyone was getting stuck during the beta). And it’s fairly hard, I haven’t pressed quicksave this much in any game this year. But all these issues are forgiveable.

  42. bill says:

    I really like FPS with jumping puzzles.

    There, I said it. I know that pixel precision jumping from a first person perspective can be annoying, but I think we benefited a lot more from jumping puzzles in FPS than we gained from losing them.

    FPS used to be about both action and puzzle solving. You had to not only blast everything you met, but you had to move and explore and work out how to get to that place you wanted to go to. Designing levels for FPS used to be about making good challenging levels to explore – now it’s about making realistic looking levels that people can walk through.

    I know they were sometimes used badly or frustratingly, and I know they were removed because they didn’t work well with consoles and controllers. But they made the experience of exploring FPS levels and interacting with them much more interesting and involving.

    For example, Quake 1 levels were just pure playgrounds for exploration. they had no story or set pieces, it was about finding your way from A to THAT COOL LOOKING PLACE UP THERE THAT THERE MUST BE A WAY TO GET TO.

    The true master of environmental puzzles was Jedi Knight though, and I’d take it’s level design, environmental puzzles and jumping over the level design of almost any FPS that has come later.

    • bill says:

      (though Xen was a big letdown as an ending. But that was their implementation),

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      The giant catapult nipples were easier to use this time around. I didn’t spend 5 minutes trying to get one to punt me on top of the artillery control tower, without killing me, this time :)

    • Very Real Talker says:

      it’s not that there is something bad with jumping… it’s that like 90% of the game is walking through empty corridors, basements, offices, and storage rooms, and jumping. And the whole chapter dedicated to jumping- residue processing- don’t get me started about that.

      • Pindie says:

        Frankly Valve has an irritating habit of taking each little feature and rubbing it in your face saying “See that! We are really proud of it so we made entire chapter about it!”

        There was jump puzzles on conveyors, then there was the long and boring section of driving the cart on rails, something innovative at the time…

        In Half Life 2 they had those driving/motorboat sections and the gravity gun sections that also overstayed their welcome. Not to mention zombie section with waves of enemies. the mini-boss-fights that were kinda OK but not enough variety…

        I don’t even know if this is a valid complaint.

        Anyway the rest of my post is kinda more general, not a response.

        Crouch jump, please people, it’s like riding on a bicycle, if you cannot do it now you probably never could. It’s skill based movement in FPS, what is the complaint? It’s also present in every HL game ever and I have heard no complaints.
        The platforming in HL1 was also hardly pixel-precision, as long as you did things mostly correct you would make the jumps.

        I also felt pretty cool jumping on those crates hanging over the abyss.

        Now the major criticism I have against HL2 in turn is how disjointed it was and how they kept pulling new species out of their back sides. It felt like the game was fragmented and chapters felt as if they were held together by strings.

  43. Prime says:

    Black Mesa is an incredible reconstruction of one of my all-time favourite games. I’ve spent so much time just looking at the newness of it, the new textures, dialogue, levels and lighting. Each little loving detail makes me squeal with happiness, even things like the Health & Safety posters! There’s love in this remake, dripping from nearly every pixel.

    I also didn’t mind at all when instead of being given a crowbar I was told to pick up flares and fight the alarming number of freshly-dead crab-zombies. It was a punch right to the muscle-memory telling me to PAY ATTENTION, OPEN YOUR EYES, KEEP ALERT. I really appreciated that, this chance to re-discover something that had long been over-familiar, so I’ve been drinking everything in like a gallery full of art critics ever since.

    I haven’t actually completed it yet (as far as this release lets you, anyway) I’ve only just reached the soldiers. Yes, I miss their iconic original voices, as well as the original wail of the Houndeyes. The Vortigaunts now sound very HL2 (and, incidentally, look fucking amazing while shooting you) which is…okay, I guess. I see why the Black Mesa team did it but I disagree with their choice to do so, as I did when Valve re-voiced the Vortigaunts in HL2. HL1 presented players with a unique and iconic soundscape, much like Star Wars did, that was as much a cherished part of the game as any other. Not even George Lucas would replace the tie-fighter or lightsaber sounds in Star Wars, so why do this in Half Life? I miss the ‘ut-’ut-’ut and ‘oo-ree-ka’ sounds very much. HL1 Vortigaunts are just not the same without them. Thankfully the Head-crab death gurgle is present and absolutely correct, as are it’s adorable chirps and shrill screams – GOD how I love Head-crabs!

    By contrast, the decision to expand upon the dialogue among the Black Mesa NPCs was spot-on and I also have no issue with the quality of it. The plentiful, well-written, well-acted conversations give the facility a greater feeling of being ‘alive’, in the sense that human beings live and work there and not just clever bits of code that deliver one or two repeated lines when you pass by.

    Black Mesa is long-awaited and absolutely a 2012 Event. Every Gamer should be playing this, whether they’ve played the original or not. Outstanding work, Black Mesa Modding Team. A generation of grateful and delighted gamers salutes you.

    • kyrieee says:

      I don’t know how I didn’t think of it, but you’re right, the old Alien Slave sounds were awesome.

    • Jigowatt says:

      Well said. Black Mesa is utterly magnificent, and its few flaws are vastly overshadowed by its triumphs. I haven’t completed it yet (just got to the dam on Surface Tension), but so far I’m mostly incredibly happy with the changes. People have complained about On A Rail being cut down, whereas I much preferred the new layout. And Questionable Ethics (one of my favourite chapters in the original) has also been greatly improved!

      And yeah, I know what you mean about the Vortigaunt sounds. I do miss their original, more-alien speech (“oo-ee-chee-bah” etc) but I’m also kinda glad the BMS team decided to use the HL2 style, for consistency. The sound effect I miss the most – and perhaps one of Half-Life’s most iconic – is the health pack bleep. The new ‘hiss’ effect just isn’t satisfying enough!

      • Jahkaivah says:

        Health machines just aren’t the same without “ECKS-PEE-DEE-DEE-DEE-DEE”.

      • Prime says:

        Agree with you on the Health pack beep! Seems strange to replace that, and the medical and power rechargers, for the same reasons as the Vortigaunts.They were iconic. And awesome. Still, as you say, a minor niggle compared to the stupendous achievement.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          I like the clackiness of the new machines, especially the little flip-up panel when the HEV is exhausted. I will have to look up an old video to see what the old sounds were like.

    • malkav11 says:

      My understanding is that they were not allowed to use any of the original assets, sound effects included. So it’s not that they changed specific sounds, it’s that they perhaps did not replicate some of them as successfully as others. Which is understandable from a completely unpaid amateur team. That they were able to make a project of this magnitude and fidelity at all is amazing.

  44. TimMc says:

    I found it very hard to convince my friend that BMS was good, despite being different. He seemed to believe unless it was a complete copy, it would be a disappointment. I can understand that, but BMS felt so faithful and strangely nostalgic.

    Also, BMS reminded me about first person platforming – glad its gone from modern games.

  45. Dobleclick says:

    “…and that stretch in an early level where you can end up with three security guards following you…”

    I actually ended up with FOUR security guards and THREE scientists. I was kind of disappointed having to leave them behind in the cafeteria as they were incapable of jumping across a small blockade of furniture. I’m not sure if there is a way to DO something with those guys, like getting them all rescued or (more probably) killed in a dramatic sequence of “nothing-you-did-changed-their-foreseeable-demise”.

    It would have been a nice addition to the game, I feel.

    • Jigowatt says:

      Well when you come back to that area (through the door from the stairwell side that was locked before), you can get them to join you again. But not for very long, as you have to leave them all when you jump across the elevator shaft.

    • Werthead says:

      I actually quite liked the fact that not everyone died, and quite a few people escaped from the facility to show up again in HL2. If Eli and Kleiner could escape – and they were deep in the facility along with you – then it’s logical that lots of others could as well.

      • jorygriffis says:

        That’s a very positive take. One thing I can say about Black Mesa is that it does a great job of humanizing its scientists and security guards. Playing the original, it’s pretty hard not to see the NPCs as constructs, and the Black Mesa characters seem like they have lives again.

        I realized this when I was thinking back through the events of the original games, and remembered that in Opposing Force the BMRF gets nuked into oblivion. I was actually a bit sad to think of some of these characters’ inevitable deaths. But you’re right–maybe they have a chance of escape.

        • Werthead says:

          In BLUE SHIFT you – as Barney – also help quite a few scientists and security guards flee the facility before the nuke goes off. Apparently BLUE SHIFT is of dubious canonicity (as the Barney you play in BS never meets Freeman in the game but references some of the dialogue the other security guards have with him in the first game in HL2) but that does at least suggest a lot of people made it out and survived. Er, until the Combine invasion wiped out most of the human race later on, of course :-)

  46. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I’m ultimately left with a feeling of: “Erm…yeah it’s a nicely done copy/update of HL1. I guess. Well done.”

    And I feel a bit sorry for the guys who did it. How many thousands of man hours did they put into this? I just hope they enjoyed the journey.

    Impressive in some ways, undoubtedly. But it’s nothing more than an object of interest, rather than a gaming event of any real meaning. It’s hard to know what to say about it really.

    • zeroskill says:

      “And I feel a bit sorry for the guys who did it. How many thousands of man hours did they put into this? I just hope they enjoyed the journey.”

      I don’t really understand what you are getting at. So you feel modding games is a waste of time?

      • gshauger says:

        I think what he’s getting at is painfully obvious….they could have spent that time towards something that would have actually made them money.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s not like it’s worthless as a portfolio piece for getting a job.

        • zeroskill says:

          You are seriously talking about spending your time in a reasonable way on a internet site about video games? Sorry if I have a laugh.

        • Prime says:

          …they could have spent that time towards something that would have actually made them money.

          So could many of the artists who’s paintings adorn the galleries of the world. Go out and get a bloody job, Van Gogh!

          Translation: Black Mesa is a work of Art made for no other reason than an enduring love of Half Life, Valve’s very own Citizen Kane. I’m astonished that anyone should need to be told this.

    • ShadowNate says:

      Well, it’s not a copy nor an update of Half Life, it’s a free mod that’s been developed by a multi-membered team of very talented Half Life fans spread around the globe. It’s been in development for 8 years (and will continue to be further developed since the Xen levels and DeathMatch are expected in the future, as well as patches).

      It’s one of the largest completed and released Total Conversions (if not the largest), one of the most ambitious (re-creating/re-making Half-Life almost from scratch) and certainly one of the most anticipated.

      The work the devs have put in it is quite exceptional. The maps look professionally made and are very detailed with many areas looking more fitting for a research facility. The voice overs range for very good to excellent, the models are detailed, the original soundtrack is amazing, the scripted sequences and choreographed battles are outstanding and all throughout the game you get the feeling that you are playing Half-Life, even though it’s not exactly as you remember it.

      So there’s plenty to say. That is, if you are interested to find out the whys and hows about the Black Mesa mod.

  47. gshauger says:

    It will only be the de facto way of playing for those who never played the original. As good as the mod is it simply changed too much of what made HL the greatest PC game of all time.

  48. Bob says:

    After barbecuing the giant tentacle I descended the ladder and jumped into the water. In Half Life vanilla didn’t you have to swim through to some sort of cave? There doesn’t appear to be any way to progress, unless I’ve forgotten something…which is quite likely.

  49. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Swim down into the hole, then swim outwards from the center to the hole, and then up to the surface. The vertical tunnel is sort of donut shaped.

    • Bob says:

      Cheers, there’s probably blown up bits of tentacle obscuring the view of the entrance to the tunnel.

  50. Motorheadache says:

    It was awesome.
    I really enjoyed it, and I bought hl1 when it came out..so…
    …well, yeah…so what?

    I’m just saying,
    if you like Half-Life, you’ll like this.

    Couple things a guy could nitpick, but whatever.

    They did good.