Black Mesa: Half-Life's Amazing Source Remake - HotHardware

Black Mesa: Half-Life's Amazing Source Remake

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Black Mesa isn't an exact remake of Half-Life -- and it shouldn't be. Valve's official Half-Life: Source barely scratched the surface of what Source could deliver; one of BMS' goals was to fully utilize the underlying engine.


Old familiar faces, everyone you meet

Characters and Environment:
New features include the addition of female scientists, an excellent soundtrack, iron sights for certain guns, and more interactive elements. Source's physics engine is used to good effect -- jump from suspended crate to suspended crates, and the storage containers realistically rock to reflect your movement.



The new scientist dialog is hilarious, enemy turrets can be picked up and repositioned, and Schrödinger's cat even offers a cameo appearance.



The new dialog and whimsical tidbits like the above are the work of a team who knows how to have fun while maintaining a consistent level of excellence.



Weaponry, Enemies and Combat:
The list of weapons mostly mirrors Half-Life, but there are subtle differences in capability and placement. The secondary fire mode of the Glock 17 is gone, and the crowbar isn't the first weapon you encounter. The first zombies and headcrabs must be taken out with flares, which weren't available in the original game. Zombies will fling things at you, as they did in Half-Life 2, and igniting them with flares will trip the emergency fire suppression system depending on where you are in Black Mesa.



The 357 Magnum shows up much earlier in BMS; it's the second gun you'll find (in Half-Life, the shotgun came first). All of the weapons retain their original characteristics -- the 357 packs a massive punch, the Glock is best for long-range fire, the MP5 is a great all-around option and the underslung M203 grenade launcher delivers an immensely satisfying explosion.  

Just a Dash of Half-Life 2:
Technically, Black Mesa is a total conversion of Half-Life 2, but the authors chose to flavor Black Mesa with HL2's capabilities, not dump them in wholesale. There's no Gravity Gun, and no way to port one in. Characters that weren't in the original game don't make any appearances here, and while Source's enhanced physics are used well, the implementation is subtle. Certain monsters, like the Zombie Security Guard, are new additions to the original game, and some creatures have had their powers tweaked. Vortigaunts, for example, charge much more quickly than in the original game.



Subtly reworking a beloved classic is far more dangerous than a straight port. Black Mesa chose to clean up, modify, and amend Valve's classic design, while keeping the memorable scenes and essence of the original. From what I've seen thus far, they've succeeded brilliantly. The original tram ride, the doomed guard just outside the entrance to Sector C, the cry of "Don't shoot -- we're on the science team!" -- they're all here. Environmental puzzles and little side rooms with upgrades for the eagle-eyed? They're here, too. You'll find helpful guards and scientists with ammo and a bit of healing to spare when you need them, and it's up to you how much trouble you go to when it comes to saving their lives.


And so, it begins

Sure, there are a few rough spots. The cube-map reflections don't always work perfectly, the military voice-overs are a bit flat, and you can't hurt zombies or headcrabs by throwing trash cans or crates at them. None of it matters. Black Mesa is what Half Life Source could've been. It tweaks and yes, improves on the original game, while keeping everything that made Half-Life great. If you liked HL in 1998, you're going to love Black Mesa. If you couldn't get into Half-Life due its age, you'll still like Black Mesa.

In fact, a recent survey has proven that the only people who don't like Black Mesa are card-carrying members of PETH (People for the Ethical Treatment of Headcrabs). The rest of you -- get going. There's a crowbar with your name on it and the G-Man has his eye on you.

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Already downloaded this but have not tried it yet.

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I DL'd it yesterday I might give it a go today before work.

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Grabbed it when it was released but I have yet to try it out. I did watch a video on the comparison between the original and the new source version.

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About to head home and download it

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Woot, finished downloading the game. About to hit play.

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I've gotten past the resonance cascade, and so far I like it. My only problem is the repeated animations. You can tell this was made by a lot of separate people, because many characters make the same finger-pointing-up gesture very frequently. They probably would've noticed if it was a more coherent team. I know it's a weird complaint, but it really stands out when you play.

Still, this is one hell of an accomplishment. It's not just a reskin, but basically a complete game from scratch. Kudos to the team.

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i love it, it's a good remake ! Didn't remember the first Half life was that hard but it's great !

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I wish I brought my laptop to school today. Could be playing half life before my next class.

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I know 14 years isn't enough for a book to be considered a classic. What I can say for HL is in the so far short comparative life(compared to say books) video games are still a very new platform of art, and that HL was very revolutionary, and it will be a classic for the future. It's also important for younger kids to realize how far gaming has come in the last years, and to know the classics, and this is great way to do it.

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I'm liking this a lot, and I think Sarah is right, it's a bit harder this time around. That's not a bad thing though.

Did any one else like the new Wing Commander? It was great to break out the the old Wingman joystick and have at it.

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