Maybe black mesa…

That was a joke. Ha ha. Fat chance.

It’s been a while since I did a game review here. Black Mesa is a community made remake of Half-Life using the Source engine. It’s free, or freeish. I think it might require a Half-Life 2 engine game but we all have one of them right? Half-Life, despite being 14 years old at this point, stands out as being one of the most brilliant games of all time, because it was so well made, its lore was mysterious and incredibly intriguing, and the game just sprawled. It was a journey.

Here are my thoughts on Black Mesa:


So much nostalgia and so much win. Yes, win is a noun, deal with it.

Deal with it

They’ve done a fabulous job of modernising Half-Life. I’m actually surprised just how good it is. I thought “this is an amateur effort so I’ll have to cut them some slack”, well, forget that, it’s great on its own merits and it’s great next to professionally made titles.

It’s not a room-for-room remake but they have recreated all the memorable set pieces (like those awful tentacles). It’s been a long time since I played Half-Life but it seems to be a creative remake. They’ve also drawn on some of the things introduced in Half-Life 2 and retrofitted them, like Eli and Isaac and Lamarr (and a picture of Hedy Lamarr). Neat little things you appreciate. They’ve also really captured the atmosphere. Some of the alien sections feel like a survival horror game, maybe even to a bigger extent than the original (I can’t remember). HL2 explored the universe’s potential for a survival horror in the terrifying Ravenholme section and some of this vibe has definitely come through in Black Mesa.

The things I’m most sad about are actually things I remember and consider iconic that they’ve changed. I’d have preferred it if they’d kept the distorted marine voices, and I missed the “welcome to the HEV mark four protective system, for use in hazardous environment conditions” when you pick up your suit.

The voice acting has been redone entirely by different actors, not that you’ll notice (generally). Barney still sounds like Barney and he has some new lines. I’m not sure if they used the same voice actor for Freeman though.

The music is also new. HL used a kind of upbeat techno style at major plot development points and events. Black Mesa inserts tracks at the same kinds of places, but they are more rock oriented. I’m not entirely sold that rock works in soundtracks. It’s well made though.

In conclusion: first person shooters are a saturated market with little originality. Black Mesa is a remake and still shows far more originality than most AAA titles. Check it out.


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