Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source) is a first-person shooter computer game developed by the Crowbar Collective; A remake of Valve’s 1998 game Half-Life. The project was originally announced in 2004, released in 2012 as a free custom modification; Later, with the approval of the copyright holder Valve and through its own Steam service, Black Mesa was released as an independent commercial game: in early access in 2015, in 2020 – in full completion.
Black Mesa was originally developed in response to the 2004 release of Half-Life: Source, Valve’s own portrayal of Half-Life to the Source engine without any graphics or gameplay improvements. The Crowbar Collective emerged as a union of two independent teams of fans of the original game – they tried to recreate Half-Life, taking full advantage of the advanced capabilities of the Source engine, reworking all textures, models and levels, creating realistic gameplay – these goals shifted as it was released. new versions of Source and improvements in technology, so the game was in vaporware status for many years. The Crowbar Collective also redesigned a number of levels and puzzles, AI opponents; the last levels of the game, which take place outside the Earth, in the alien world of Zen, have undergone the most significant processing.
The initial release of Black Mesa in 2012 received positive reviews from critics; subsequent revised editions received even higher marks. Reviewers noted improved gameplay and developer attention to detail in recreating the original; the reworked levels in the Zen world have received special praise.
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Main article: Half-Life gameplay
As in the original Half-Life game, the player takes on the role of Gordon Freeman, one of the scientists of the Black Mesa research complex, who, due to the incident, must eliminate the threat of an alien invasion. The events of the game take place both within the walls of the underground scientific complex and on its surface, and later – in the alien fantasy world of Zen. The game has a linear structure – the end of each level is the beginning of the next, and the passage usually does not imply detours or additional paths. Level exploration combines both fighting with opponents and platforming elements, as well as solving various puzzles.
The plot of the remake is chronologically no different from the original game. Chapters 15 through 18 and the epilogue chapter, which are set in Xena, have undergone the biggest changes: their maps have been significantly expanded and Xen himself has become much more diverse. At the same time, the Crowbar Collective, when creating them, implemented some of the ideas that Valve had conceived for the original Half-Life, but for a number of reasons abandoned them.
Black Mesa, like the 1998 original, is divided into several story chapters. The player can choose the level of difficulty of the game from the three presented, which affects the amount of damage received.
Development and release
The original Half-Life game released in 1998 used the GoldSrc engine. In the following years, Valve developed a much more advanced Source engine – it was used in Half-Life 2, released in 2004, and in the same year Valve republished several of its previous games, ported to this new engine. Among them was a Half-Life port called Half-Life: Source. Apart from the transfer to the new engine – and, as a result, the use of its physical part, based on Havok, as well as some new lighting effects and the image of the water surface – the game has not undergone almost any changes: the architecture of the levels, models and textures remained the same as in the 1998 version .
The creation of Black Mesa began with the unification of two independent teams of volunteers who shared a common goal: to bring Half-Life to the Source engine, making the most of its capabilities. One of the two teams was assembled, numbering 13 people, and in September 2004 they announced the development of Black Mesa. The project was originally called Black Mesa: Source, but later Valve asked them to remove the word “Source” from the title to avoid confusion. In May 2006, one of the Black Mesa versions in development, called Alpha 6, hit the Internet . Later, the development team grew, and it already consisted of 39 people. They stated that they would leave the plot and gameplay almost the same as in the original. The designers have changed and reduced some of the playable locations that they considered “tedious” or “unnecessary” in the original Half-Life.