2012/10/01

Black Mesa: Best revamp ever? Probably yes

Black Mesa

Sup, long time without writing, you know, holidays, summer, getting tanned...the typical :). Anyway, while I was on vacation I noticed a new game release:


I must confess I didn't hear about this mod before, because yes, it is a mod and its using the Source Engine from Half Life 2. Thing is, it is a revamp of the (probably one of the best games ever) Half-Life game, from Valve. I must confess that the original Half-Life is probably the game I finished the most times, lost the count actually, including all the expansions: Opposing Force and Blue Shift.

All hail the Lambda!
That said, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this mod. I always wondered how the original Half-Life would look with the Source Engine and Half Life 2 textures. Dream came true with this mod. I can probably state that this is the best revamp EVER, in my opinion. Check the image below to see the difference between the new textures and the 'good old ones':

Before and after never looked better
Welcome back, Mr. Freeman

Starting the game again sends a chill down the spine right from the start, for all Half-Life lovers out there, intro sequence with these nice visuals is a must-have experience. Almost everything has changed, menus, UI, music and sounds (although I experienced odd effects with some music sequences at scripted times during gameplay). Just as soon as get down the tram, you'll feel back home:

BSOD??? I knew it everything screwed up because of using Windows in Black Mesa!!!
In general, the best improvement is obviously, in the graphics part. Incredibly higher resolution textures than the original, particles and lights, although I haven't really seen any improvement in higher poly resolution models, I'm afraid the originals have been kept for most of the in-game objects, besides the models that have increased detail quite a lot, specially for the human counterpart, not so much for the Xen inhabitants.

A flying WD-43 is ALWAYS handy

Physics have also been vastly improved, mostly thanks to the use of the Source engine, and actually there are many levels during the game that require a completely new approach, using whatever you have on your environment in order to move forward. This can be quite annoying sometimes, since your memories will trick you here, constantly telling you, this did not happen before...why I'm stuck here? etc...but in the long run, it increases the game overall structure.

 Best sight when you're screwed

In fact, there are some levels (specially the one with the massive crushing alien plant in a hole) that have suffered so many changes that are virtually recognizable. In any case, all levels have been greatly redesigned, vastly improvement can be seen in the amount of objects deployed, scenarios, and ways to interact with your surroundings. One details I really enjoy and find it perfect for the in-game immersion and that was not possible due to technical restrictions are the different pieces of info found on boards or pieces of paper across the game:

What the heck is that on the left??
Final thoughts

If you want to experience the Half Life experience again, I will encourage you to try Black Mesa. I have enjoyed every second out of it. It has its drawbacks: at hardest difficulty some stages are almost impossible (luckily you can change difficulty any time in-game), like the one where you have to cross the dam with the chopper throwing everything at you...*sigh*. In the other hand, you can re-visit the Half Life experience with a whole new perspective, worth a try, trust me....and on top of it...it's free! Go get them Mr. Freeman.

Duh? Am I playing Portal or Half-Life?

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