For half a life fan it was not easy for almost 16 years. Wait, hope, and wait a little longer. As the saying goes? Hope dies last, but it dies. Because the two shooter classics Half-Life and Half-Life 2 were never expanded to include the third part that was actually intended. The trilogy remains incomplete to this day. By contrast, 2020 seems to be a good year for the starved fans of the game series around protagonist Gordon Freeman.
At the end of last year, the announcement of the VR exclusive came as a surprise Prequels Half-Life: Alyx for March 23. And since March 5, Black Mesa, the popular fan remake of the first half-life part, has left the early access phase and can be played in version 1.0. The new edition is the perfect occasion to return to the original location of the series, the eponymous research base Black Mesa, and to relive the story about nasty aliens, failed experiments and government cover-ups in polished graphics.
This should also be interesting for newbies, because the modders have made every effort to make Black Mesa the best version of Half-Life. So it's high time you put on your protective suit and grab a crowbar!
The source of inspiration
Source: PC games
Black Mesa is no ordinary remake, because behind the project are not the half-life developers from Valve, but an international group of fans and modders. And they put a lot of time and money into realizing their plan: The story of Black Mesa already begins in 2004. Shortly after the release of Half-Life 2, some fans joined forces to make Half-Life 1 worthy To bring a new edition in the more modern source engine. Two modder groups (Leakfree + Half-Life: Source Overhaul Project), who initially worked separately on remakes, eventually formed the development team Crowbar Collective and christened their project "Black Mesa: Source". Valve got wind of this project and encouraged the developers to continue working on their game – only the "Source" had to disappear from the name to avoid confusion with original Valve games. Valve then made Black Mesa an official licensed product, giving developers full access to the game engine.
This opened new doors for the developers: in 2012 Black Mesa officially appeared in Valve's digital games shop Steam for the first time as a free mod, for which only the free Source Software Development Kit (SDK) had to be installed. The fan remake has been available as a paid early access version in the store since 2015. During all this time, work on the half-life remake continued, because to completely rebuild all textures, levels and models, the developers needed significantly longer than anyone would have guessed. Now, over 15 years after the start of development, version 1.0 of the shooter remake has finally been released.
Half-life as it was – only better
Source: PC games
And the result is really good! Black Mesa should be noted at all times that the remake is not a soulless developer studio with a greedy publisher, but real fans who have tried with passion and passion to create a worthy tribute to their favorite game. So what does Black Mesa have to offer? On the one hand there is the drilled graphics: In addition to new textures, the optics are particularly impressive due to their lighting effects, which bring clear added value. Efficiently placed light sources in dark rooms create a much darker mood, in which headcrab zombies cast long shadows and ventilation shafts look like threatening black holes. The new sound design contributes a lot to this atmosphere and always hits the right note. At this point, a huge compliment to the composers of the Black Mesa soundtrack: the minimalist sounds fit into the game so well that you might think that Half-Life would never have existed without them.
In well-chosen moments, the music also comes to the fore: then breathtaking alien landscapes are accompanied by female vocals and harmonious synth tracks, in action sequences an electric guitar insert fires the events and in quiet puzzle and platforming – Sequences create gentle piano tones the right ambience. The other, half-life-typical background noise is just as positive: Whether the new powerful sounds of the weapons or the lifeless voice of our protective suit, which informs us about combat injuries and energy levels – everything fits.
Only fans of the German dubbing could be disappointed, since Black Mesa does not offer German voice output and can only be played in English with German subtitles. Unfortunately, the subtitles are still partially incorrect at the moment and sometimes they have even been completely omitted.