Black Mesa is a re-make of the original Half-Life, being re-made by a third party, Crowbar Collective. It is currently in Early Access and was released on May 5th, 2015 for PC.
The plot is practically the same story as the original Half-Life. The player controls Gordon Freeman, a scientist working in an underground research facility, titled Black Mesa. He and a few other scientists are performing an experiment the likes of which has never been attempted. Something goes horribly wrong and creates a rift, which brings a bunch of aliens known as the Xen to the Earth. Using his hazard suit, he attempts to find other survivors and reach the surface.
The game has been wonderfully re-made, both the visuals and the sounds, with that classic Valve feel, even though it isn’t being done by Valve. Walking down hallways and exploring laboratories is extremely satisfying with the new look, especially for fans of the original game, as you may be able to remember these areas from the original, and compare the two. For newcomers to the game, though, much like the original game, this is a must play, as it was one of the games that defined the first-person genre and lead the way for countless more games. The graphics are still a little behind the times, however, but re-making a game released in 1998 is no simple task, and the developers aren’t done yet, so we will get to see how the game progresses first hand, by playing it. Nothing noticeable has been cut from the game, and the puzzle solving and fighting still feel as good as they did back in 1998.
As you travel through the game, you eventually acquire a number of different weapons to help you against the enemy. Each weapon feels solid and helpful in different situations, such as the pistol for controlled, careful fire, the submachine gun for that glorious spray and pray, or just some grenades to deal with a bunch of enemies all at once. And you will need all the weapons you can get to deal with the vast amount of enemies you will face. Enemies that charge at you, spit at you, shoot at you and enemies that try to blow you up. Each weapon can help in different ways and it is up to you to find which weapon is best for which situation, and how you decide you want to deal with them. Of course, there is the crowbar which is probably a more well-known feature of Half-Life than Gordon Freeman, and it feels good to just smack some aliens with it.
As it is an Early Access, there are bound to be some bugs or glitches to be found, but none have been found so far that are too game breaking. The only one that was actually found was when looking through the customisation options and choosing a character, some characters would cause the game to crash, assumedly because those models aren’t properly optimised yet. Not necessarily bugs or glitches, but the AI feels too stiff, not in the way they stand, but in the way they speak. A number of times human followers have spoken to each other, but their conversations felt either forced or didn’t make any sense at all. The replies do not fit the question and it really brings you out of the game. Some lines can give you a good chuckle, however, such as one of the scientist ladies who looks at a security officer and says “I don’t think I’m better than you… I know it.”
A number of fans have complained that the developers have brought in a multiplayer aspect to the game before the single player was finished. Some, however, appreciate it; it gives them something to come back to even when they have finished the current single player aspect. It is all a matter of what you would prefer in a Half-Life game.
Black Mesa is out on PC for 20 AUD. Bringing back Half Life is no simple task, but Crowbar Collective are definitely on their way to making it happen. Black Mesa receives an 8/10, sounding and looking better is one thing, but managing to recreate a game almost 20 years old and bringing it into the fold of modern games, while still maintaining its original feel is a hefty task, but the way it is looking, it is slowly becoming a successful one.