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Black Mesa Review: The Second Life of Half-Life
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Black Mesa is a fantastic action game based on Half-Life story. Made by fans, it follows the story of Gordon Freeman in Black Mesa Research Facility. Creative and energetic, fantastic beyond any limitations, it’s more than a tribute: it’s a real resurrection suited for modern game design tradition. Download Black Mesa for Windows or Linux and see the classics of the 1990s remade for our time!
Well, it’s the graphics the project was started for. As Valve released its new version of Half-Life based on the Source engine, fans realized that the new engine is capable of much greater visuals. So it’s an unofficial remake of the classical game, with its genre (FPS), aesthetics with extraterrestrial monsters and high technologies, and even characters’ appearance preserved. Though the game is now much richer in details (20 GB is an impossible size for a game of 1998), it only takes 6GB RAM and 2GB video card.
If you loved the original Half-Life, you’ll see that it’s the same but better. It’s like listening to an accurate cover version of your favorite song from a band that delivers an exact copy instead of a remix. The community of fan developers meant exactly this. So it’s the very original Half-Life built on Source, a shooter that looked revolutionary in 1998 and feels classical in 2019.
Yes, it means all the labs and all the creatures, all the experiments and all their fatal consequences are recreated very thoroughly. No wonder (as Source became home for fan communities like that of Garry’s Mod!) The game is richer in details, but it preserves the original chapters, the original presence of the player within Gordon Freeman, and even the names!
The difficulty didn’t change either. There are no new locations or gameplay features, but that’s intentional. Anyway, it’s a large, detailed love confession. If you love Half-Life too, you can join in and walk the way with your gun again.
This game is only made for desktop platforms. No wonder Black Mesa is optimized for keyboard and mouse. Partial controller support is close to the original Half-Life but not offering full specter of moves. You can use Xpadder to remap your gamepad, but it may be sophisticated.
Replay Value 4/5
Truly, we don’t know whether this game is rather of nostalgic value or of curious interest. It’s like visiting famous buildings and entire locations recreated in Minecraft: they are fascinating, but it takes more to return there later. If you want to discover the classics for the first time (probably driven by Half-Life: Alyx announce), you better explore the original to see the franchise grow. But if you’ve been walking in Gordon’s shoes for days, and now want to revisit those days, this one will add some necessary freshness.
The Bottom Line
To complete the story, let’s say that Valve fully authorized this remake by Crowbar Collective, and now it’s officially available on Steam. Well, you may say Casablanca got no better after colorization, and Joan Jett does love rock ’n’ roll (while Britney doesn’t), but this one is made with more respect to the original.
If you want to see the full potential of the good old Half-Life, you better download Black Mesa for Windows or Linux: it’s a revamped version of the same game.
Replay Value 4
It’s the original Half-Life revamped for a new engine;
It’s fun to see the origin recreated;
It doesn’t look the 1990s;
Fully compatible with today’s hardware and operating systems;
Professionally made (as for an enthusiast team).
The game doesn’t look 2015 either (the year it made it to Steam), let alone 2019;
The original delivers better nostalgic value.
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