Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Black Mesa

Review: Black Mesa

2:00 PM on 09.23.2012 // Joshua 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.



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 community fisters, 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 * to your whitelists.

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!

FNF: Christmas toime is hear

Cblogs of 11/29/15 + Scott Pilgrim You Nefarious Swine!

Sexism in video games culture: social science says it’s real

How YOU can save DOAX3 (with diagrams)

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 2

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

My beef with Sony

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

trkals avatartrkals DIY DIY projects for new hobbies
trkals avatartrkals DIY DIY projects for new hobbies , felt, amigurumi , origami and event platform for sharing the work done at home easily. -Kendin Yap DIY projeleri, yeni hobiler, keçe, amigurumi, origami ve evde kolay yapılan çalışmaların payl
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Well, everyone is throwing in their opinion on women and games, and here I am... writing a blog about being aroused by female characters in games as a kid... Perhaps I should hold off, I have a feeling it may just be taken the wrong way.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Thinking about getting my sister yokai watch or animal crossing Happy Home designer(comes with nfc reader). I already got a copy of Tales of xillia for her ps3, this is just a bonus for when she's on the road or at someones house. any suggestions?
Dalek Sex avatarDalek Sex
Dark Souls 2. Dem builds.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Posted image I promised Flanx, didn't get response from him. Heart forever broken.
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: What game have you played through to completion the most number of times?
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
ProTip for UK Nintendo gamers: Twilight Princess HD is finally up for pre-order on Amazon. Unfortunately, it won't ship to anywhere outside of the UK. Dammit Amazon Italy! Get on this!!!
extatix avatarextatix
It's the best time of the year again! Finally we get to listen to Wham and Chris Rea over and over again!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
The Unofficial Destructoid Christmas Card has been ordered. If you claimed one, you should probably PM me your address now.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Started playing Wonderful 101 and it's good, but pretty overwhelming. Think I'll put it down for now. Also sad that there is no penis formation. [img][/img]
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
What the hell happened to Arcade racing games?
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Red from Transistor has joined Indivisible! many thanks to Supergiant Games for their support to this game.
JBroXNari99 avatarJBroXNari99
Does anyone know if Advent of Indies is happening this year? I looked it up today and didn't find any updates on their Twitter since January.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I brought that cake I made into work and it disappeared fast. Maybe if I lose my job I can just make a living selling cakes on the end of my street.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
My review-in-progress of Just Cause 3: Explosions - good. Grappling hook - good. Flying - good. Driving - an abomination. 8/10.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
Well, ugh, this is awkward. A year ago I wrote a cblog about cool indie games coming in 2015, and not a single one of them has been released :/
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I was happy to have never spoiled myself the final boss of Splatoon's campaign. That was one of the best boss fights ever and I absolutely love the credits track. So relaxing. [youtube][/youtube]
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Today's kids will never know the struggle of putting an encyclopedia on top of an NES Max to auto-buy 99 potions before heading into Terra Cavern
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
Sometimes, on more dreary days, I make a smiley face with sliced-pickle eyes and bacon grin in my lunch-burger. It fills me up all the same, but I feel a warm sense of accomplishment, achievement and satisfaction on top of it.
more quickposts



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 -