hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Black Mesa

Review: Black Mesa

2:00 PM on 09.23.2012 // Joshua Derocher
  @Josh_Derocher

Half-Life is a great game, but it's been over ten years since its release. What if Half-Life were made in 2007 instead of 1999? Black Mesa is a re-imaging of Half-Life using Source, the engine powering Half-Life 2. Valve has already created an HD remake of Half-Life called Half-Life Source, but that was a simple port over to the new engine. The textures, level design, and models remained the same. Black Mesa is more than a simple remake of the original game. It's a complete re-imaging of the core game with new level design, character models, textures, voice acting, and gameplay. 

It's an ambitious game that was created by a group of modders and fans over the course of seven years. While the core ideas of the levels are still here, each one has been completely recreated, resulting in an overall larger game. Half-Life was about twelve hours long while Black Mesa is easily over fifteen, and Black Mesa doesn't even yet include the original's final four levels.

High-definition remakes have been done before, but this is a creative recreation of a game. It's more than just sexy textures and layers of post-processing tricking us into thinking an old game is new again.

Black Mesa (PC)
Developer: Black Mesa Modification Team
Release: September 14, 2012
MSRP: Free

I started playing Black Mesa expecting a completely faithful recreation of Half-Life. I was expecting the same level design and puzzles. What I found instead was something that felt very familiar, but it was also very fresh. Now, I know that there are some people out there who might think that it's crazy to try and alter anything to do with Half-Life, but don't run away screaming just yet.

Black Mesa does an amazing job of retelling the story. The levels are the same, you start at the same point, and you end at the same point. If I were to sit down and tell you how I played the game and what I did, it probably wouldn't sound too different, as the same essence is here. It's like watching a remake of a movie. Even if two people watched different versions of the same movie, they still have the same experience overall.

The above image is a top-down comparison of the the level "Inbound." They both have little crossroads, and some brownish-red stuff, but they look very different. The Source engine is capable of creating much bigger levels than the old engine ever could, and the developers wanted to incorporate that into the new Black Mesa Complex. It feels like a massive place now.

Hallways are longer, rooms are bigger with higher ceilings, and outside areas are vast and expansive. It's not just empty space, either -- areas have been filled with extra rooms, more weapon stashes, and more bad guys to fight. While some things have been expanded on, other have been streamlined such as the level "On a Rail". This level is shorter and it require much less backtracking.

The puzzle solutions are also a little bit different, too. Anyone who was hoping to blast through this because of how well they know Half-Life might have to stop and think for a bit here and there. I'm not going to dive into anything that could spoil the game for you, but I will say that the changes are well done and they fit the spirit of the original.

Black Mesa has a lot to live up to, and it does an admirable job. The graphics look great, but the seven years in development make it look somewhat dated. The new voice acting sounds way better than the old digitized voice clips. Excluding a couple of moments where the frame rate dropped down drastically, the gameplay is otherwise smooth. At one point late in the game, it's almost unplayable for half a minute. Another annoying thing is the way jumping works: they tried to correct the insane old-school jumping mechanics by replacing it with a different (yet equally insane) method of jumping where you always have to press crouch and jump at the same time in order to get around. 

If you have never played Half-Life, you owe it to yourself to check out Black Mesa. It's a faithful recreation of an amazing game. You'll get the feeling and story of the original, but you won't have to try and play a 13-year-old shooter to do so. If you have played Half-Life before, you should still go play Black Mesa. It's a fresh take on a classic that's the closest thing you'll get to feeling like you're playing Half-Life for the first time again.

No matter what level of experience you have with Half-Life, this is worth playing. It's a brilliant tribute to one of the greatest videogames ever made, and it's also a good game in its own right.



THE VERDICT

8

Black Mesa - Reviewed by Joshua Derocher
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Joshua Derocher, PC Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Josh_Derocher Tips
Josh is a PC gamer. He can usually be found flying around in EVE Online. He's been known to enjoy playing role-playing games like Dragon Age: Origins, Skyrim, and Planescape Torment. He starte... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! Get a free Stealth Inc. 2 maybe? I dunno. Just signal boosting for no particular reason. Maybe 'cause I got a free game? Least I could do. https://www.humblebundle.com/store
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I gotta to admit: it feels nice to be able to play a Pokemon game without thinking to myself "oh shit, I got to fill up my Pokedex". It's nice. Oh yeah, and for the record, I'm playing through Soul Silver.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I enter the Gamestop. I set a Toad plushie atop a Yoshi plushie. I set Mario to go down on Kirby. I leave the Gamestop.
gajknight avatargajknight
Niero, just killed a man, Put my dick inside his head, cummed my load and now he's dead. Niero, we had just begun, But now I've gone and thrown it all awayyyyyy. Nierooooooo, ooooooooh.
guitarvillain avatarguitarvillain
That thought sends shivers down my spine.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Lacking recording/social features aside (I actually do love that aspect of the PS4), I've been really enjoying my Xbone. Sunset Overdrive is like Saints Row meets Tony Hawk and lovingly self-aware.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wait, wasn't that Pokemon Detective Pikachu game supposed to come out this year?
sakesushi avatarsakesushi
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! They're doing it wrong though, putting up [url="https://www.humblebundle.com/store"]Stealth Inc. 2 for free[/url]
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Just cleared out a whole village fultoning every single guard. I AM BIG BOSS.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Metal Gear Solid - Marriage - Revengeance [youtube]https://youtu.be/YN470wKT9PM[/youtube]
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Divinity: Original Sin 2 stretch goal lets you be a spooky skeleton. This is what I have dreamed of.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Going on the record saying a Borderlands movie is a terrible idea.
Tubatic avatarTubatic
Watching Free To Play. I kinda want to try DOTA2, though I'll be very bad at it. Its a very good story of pro-gamer culture, so far. Good Stuff.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Hello there, I just wanted to say that I'm new here and glad to be part of the community.
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Just tried to explain the word BEAT to an ESL student. Reference.com has 58 variations of the definition. At the least, they can finally understand that Michael Jackson was not asking people to fight each other.
Mediamister avatarMediamister
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
DTOID PAX MEET UP DAY 1 WAS FIRE.EMOJI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/JOXdORyTqVY[/youtube] I told you guys ... The Witcher 3 has more pirouettes than a ballet show. It's ridiculous!
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Are we really calling followers "fappers" on these quick posts? I knew I loved Dtoid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/z04MAOubUgM[/youtube] This might've been a fun show.
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
Black Mesa


  May 10

Early Access Review: Black Mesa

Half as good as you remember


  Nov 19

Black Mesa to be sold on Steam alongside free version

Developers now have full access to the Source engine


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -