When people think of great first-person shooters they typically recall Doom and Unreal Tournament. Not me, though; I think back to the game that really started it for me, the one that did single-player right: Half-Life. Published by Valve Software in 1998, the original Half-Life was a journey through an apocalyptic experience at the Black Mesa labs in New Mexico as seen through the eyes of a brave but silent hero, Gordon Freeman. Now, 14 years later, a team of modders have released Black Mesa, a recreation of that seminal experience with Valve’s Source engine. It looks marvelous.
The project started back in 2004 after Valve released their new Source engine yet failed to satisfy fans with a remake of Half-Life in the new engine titled (appropriately enough) “Half-Life: Source.” After some progress and a bit of positive press attention the Black Mesa project went quiet and was presumed dead for a number of years, until in June of 2012 when the Black Mesa Modification Team offered new media once their Facebook profile reached 20,000 likes. In September the project leader, Carlos “cman2k” Montero confirmed a September 14 release date for Black Mesa.
Now the game is finally available; it was one of the first projects chosen for Steam’s Greenlight program and will eventually be released directly from the Steam store. For now, there are direct downloads from the website here. Black Mesa is completely free to download and play; all that is required is Steam and the Source SDK Base 2007 tool installed (free download within Steam, here’s a quick video on where to find it).
This is not just a re-skinned Half-Life, either; everything has been completely recreated with the newest version of the Source Engine (the one which shipped with the Orange Box in 2007) and despite basically being a beautiful rehash of a seminal game from 1998, Black Mesa feels like a brand-new game. It really is like a punch in the nostalgia gut, and I love it.
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