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For other uses, see Black Mesa (disambiguation).
 
"Run. Think. Shoot. Source."
Black Mesa tagline, a nod to Half-Life’s original tagline[src]
 

Black Mesa, previously known as Black Mesa: Source, is a fan-made remake of the original Half-Life. The ultimate goal of the mod is to recreate the original Half-Life from the ground up, using the advanced capabilities of the Source engine to create a new and more engrossing in-game world with more varied, complex environments and more challenging, realistic gameplay.

Originally requiring Source SDK 2007, Black Mesa is now considered standalone and now available at Steam for only $19.99. The original release date for the project was set for 2009, but was delayed for 3 years. On the 1st of September, 2012, the project leader Carlos Montero (cman2k) had announced that Black Mesa will be released in 12 days [1] and posted a countdown on the official website. [3]

Overview

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The Anti-Mass Spectrometer.

Black Mesa, whose development began in November 2004, was born of the discontent fans experienced when playing Half-Life: Source; when considering the living environment Valve created with Half-Life 2 using the Source engine, the original game fell far short of what many players thought could be done with the software, basically being a straight port, except for improved water and lighting effects along with the inclusion of ragdoll physics. According to the developers, "Black Mesa: Source was built and founded on the principle that Half-Life: Source did not do the original title enough credit... [Black Mesa] set out to reconstruct the original title, giving it new environments, models, and abilities."

Black Mesa features original textures, models, sounds, voice acting, and music (composed and produced by the mod's sound designer, Joel Nielsen) designed specifically for the mod. However the developers intend to preserve all of the gameplay elements from the original game, without adding entirely new enemies, weapons, or levels. The game uses Half-Life 2 models with custom textures, such as the crowbar, the Colt Python, the Headcrab, the Barnacle, and the crow.[4]

Since development began, the team has released many images, including in-game screenshots of most chapters and multiplayer maps, model renders, concept art, as well as several gameplay videos and trailers and excerpts from the soundtrack.

Most likely due to the amount of publicity given to an unofficial third-party mod, Valve Corporation privately asked the producers of the mod to remove the "Source" part from the title to avoid confusion on whether it is an official Valve product or not.

The developers released a teaser trailer in early 2007, and a full-length preview trailer in late 2008. They have also released images, videos, and concept art during the project's development. Black Mesa was given an official release date of "late 2009" in the spring of 2009, but this date has since been changed to "when it's done", after the development team was unable to fulfill this date.

After almost 8 years of development, the mod was released on September 14, 2012, although it is only playable up to the Lambda Core. Xen and the later chapters were excluded due to being unfinished at the time and slated for a release at some point in the future. As of September 11th, 2012, Black Mesa was accepted into the Steam Greenlight service with the next release to include the missing Xen chapters and possibly also the Deathmatch multiplayer segment. The developers stated this version of the game would be a paid-for version but that the free version would still be available.

In May 2015, Black Mesa was released as a Steam Early Access, however it still does not include the Xen chapters but does include Deathmatch multiplayer mode. The old 2012 version however won't be updated anymore due to technical and time constraints.

Community Modifications

This is an abbreviated list of notable mods created for Black Mesa

  • A remake of Half-Life: Uplink was created by community member Hezus, and can be played as "Chapter 0."
  • A remake of the Hazard Course was released in December of 2015 for the mod version, but the Early Access version is yet to be released, due to technical problems with Black Mesa's Steam Workshop. This remake features the entire voice cast of Black Mesa.
  • TextFAMGUY1 created two extensive map packs called "On a Rail Uncut" and "Surface Tension Uncut" that seamlessly add areas from Half-Life that were cut by the Black Mesa team. TextFAMGUY1 later joined the team to work on multiplayer maps, with a heavily updated "Surface Tension Uncut" eventually being integrated into the main game's public beta in 2016 and "On A Rail Uncut" was added to the game's Steam Workshop.
  • .RK created two small expansions, the "'On a Rail' - Loop Mod" and "'We've Got Hostiles!' - Vent Mod" that adds in small parts of Half-Life cut from Black Mesa. The "Loop Mod" is fully compatible with the aforementioned "On a Rail Uncut".

Characters

  • Gordon Freeman - Like the original, he is the main protagonist and playable character.
  • Eli Vance - Eli appears in the chapter Anomalous Materials and in the next chapter Unforeseen Consequences. He is in the role of the unnamed black scientist who checked out the broken equipment and later let Gordon Freeman through the door, telling him to get help, in the original Half-Life, who was retconned as Eli Vance and revealed in Half-Life 2.
  • Isaac Kleiner - Like Eli, he appears in the chapters Anomalous Materials and Unforeseen Consequences. He is one of the three scientists who Gordon meets up when heading to the test chamber, and also one of the two scientists checking out the broken equipment with Eli Vance. In Unforeseen Consequences, he replaces the Einstein scientist who is sitting on the floor in shock being comforted by Eli Vance in the original Half-Life. When a headcrab spawns nearby in one of the containers, which Kleiner inspects, he is fascinated by it.
  • Wallace Breen - Although he doesn't appear, just like the original Half-Life, he is still indirectly mentioned by scientists as the "administrator." In an Easter egg, a paper on a cork board reveals Wallace Breen's plans to take over the world, including making friends with aliens and building a giant towering headquarters, something he pretty much does in Half-Life 2. Moreover, a security guard can trick Gordon into thinking the "administrator" is right behind him.
  • Barney Calhoun - He "appears" in the Black Mesa Inbound Chapter like the original Half-Life, trying to get access through the door. However, the developers decided not to disclose that this particular security guard is Barney in order to not conflict with the narratives between the original Half-Life and its expansion pack Half-Life: Blue Shift, but they still made a nod to the expansion pack by portraying the guard as missing his equipment and making the player unable to see his face in normal gameplay.
  • The G-Man - Like his original appearances in the Half-Life games, he observes the player from a distance and always disappears. His appearances are pretty much the same as in the original Half-Life with some tweaks. He appears in the level Questionable Ethics, where he did not appear in the original Half-Life.

Other small characters seen in Half-Life 2 are possibly also seen. For example, the headcrab Kleiner inspects seems to be Lamarr.

Like the original Half-Life, it includes groups of scientists and security guards that Gordon comes across during his path, although all the models have more varieties. Some of the scientists and guards have names of their own revealed through dialogue. HECU Marines again appear (including medics that were not present in the original game), as well as the Black Ops assassins (now wearing what appears to be black Advanced Knee Replacements or Long Fall Boots from the Portal series). Unlike in Half-Life, where all guards only carry a Glock 17, some guards are equipped with the Colt Python and SPAS-12 shotgun, which boost some effectiveness against enemies (although security guards armed with the shotgun are not very effective as they are immobile while using it).

Awards and recognition

  • Mod DB – Top Unreleased Mod for 2005[5]
  • Mod DB – Top Unreleased Mod for 2006[6]
  • Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2007[7]
  • Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2008[8]
  • Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2009[9]
  • Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2010[10]
  • Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2011[11]
  • Mod DB – Mod of the Year 2012 - 1st Place.[12]

Soundtrack

Title Length Location played
Anomalous Materials 00:59 Anomalous Materials: when Gordon acquires the HEV Suit.
Apprehension (Mesa Remix) 01:27 Apprehension: in a room with three pistons that must be jumped on.
Apprehension (Part 1) 00:27 Apprehension: when Gordon is captured by two HECU Marines.
Blast Pit 1 01:03 Blast Pit: when encountering seven Houndeyes before entering the silo.
Blast Pit 2 (Mesa Remix) 01:59 Blast Pit: after turning the power generator on.
Blast Pit 3 01:32 Blast Pit: upon returning to the silo after the fuel, power, and oxygen lines have been activated.
End Credits 03:16 Lambda Core: during the credits at the end.
Forget About Freeman 02:30 "Forget About Freeman!": upon exiting the sewers and fighting the HECU and a Tank.
Inbound Part 1 01:50 Black Mesa Inbound: during the first part of the tram ride.
Inbound Part 2 04:00 Black Mesa Inbound: during the second part of the tram ride.
Inbound Part 3 03:08 Black Mesa Inbound: during the third part of the tram ride.
Lambda Core 01:08 Lambda Core: while descending on a platform with a truck, prior to fighting the Black Ops.
Office Complex (Mesa Remix) 01:38 Office Complex: within the freezer area.
Office Complex 01:20 Office Complex: when entering the first office after the power switch has been turned off.
On a Rail 1 02:14 On A Rail: when Gordon descends into the tunnels.
On a Rail 2 01:08 On A Rail: upon attacking the Marines guarding the rocket launch site.
Power Up 00:50 Power Up: after Gordon kills the Gargantua.
Questionable Ethics 1 01:22 Questionable Ethics: when Gordon is trapped at the end and fights the rappelling Marines.
Questionable Ethics 2 00:55 Questionable Ethics: when picking up the Tau Cannon.
Residue Processing 01:01 Residue Processing: when riding on the conveyor belts.
Surface Tension 1 (Part 1) 01:32 Surface Tension: upon reaching the dam.
Surface Tension 1 (Part 2) 01:12 Surface Tension: when fighting the Apache helicopter in the cliffside area.
Surface Tension 2 02:01 Surface Tension: as Gordon crosses the cliffside area.
Surface Tension 3 (Part 1) 00:54 Surface Tension: in the parking garage after the last security guard opens the door for Gordon.
Surface Tension 3 (Part 2) 00:46 Surface Tension: when encountering the Gargantua in the parking garage.
Surface Tension 4 01:30 Surface Tension: in the core of the missile storage room.
Surface Tension Uncut 01:33 Surface Tension: during a fight between Marines and aliens, when a Tank gets destroyed by an Alien Aircraft.
Unforeseen Consequences 01:07 Unforeseen Consequences: while descending on a platform as Headcrabs come out of a vent above.
We've Got Hostiles 01:58 "We've Got Hostiles": when Gordon encounters the first Osprey and a squad of HECU soldiers.
Black Mesa Theme (Mesa Remix) 01:18 Unforeseen Consequences: when Gordon exits the test chamber after the Resonance Cascade.
Mscl_Ambience1 01:12 Unforeseen Consequences: when jumping on the hanging crates near the end.
Mscl_Ambience2 00:39 "We've Got Hostiles": when Gordon finally enters the locked security room.
Mscl_Ambience3 00:31 Lambda Core: upon reaching the Lambda Coolant System, and upon reaching the Lambda Reactor Core.
Mscl_Ambience4 01:13 Power Up: when Gordon meets the wounded security guard in the control room.
Mscl_Ambience5 01:02 Blast Pit: upon descending with the first elevator, or using the alternate path with ladders.
Mscl_Ambience6 00:42 Blast Pit: upon activating the elevator that descends towards the power generator.
Mscl_Ambience7 01:20 Blast Pit: when descending a long ladder before reaching the large fan.
Mscl_Ambience8 00:48 Questionable Ethics: when Gordon finds an Alien Grunt confined in a glass tube.

Trivia

D1 canals 050002

Detail from one of Black Mesa's computer models. Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Firefox can both be seen on the desktop, and the desktop's start button (bottom left) reveals that it is running Windows XP.

  • Examining the desktops shown on the computers in the office levels show that they are running Windows XP. This is accurate, as the original Half-Life and Black Mesa are both set at some time in the 2000s.
  • Many have noted that despite his Doctorate, Gordon Freeman's job at Black Mesa is largely experimental, consisting mostly of manual labor. Black Mesa seems to make address this in Anomalous Materials, where two nameless scientists can be heard discussing how management has been forcing Ph.D's to perform functionary work.
  • The game includes a lot of nods and Easter eggs pertaining to the Half-Life mythology, as well as questions and debates raised by fans on certain issues in the series.
    • A guard makes reference to Freeman cutting off his ponytail. In most concept art and promotional photos, Freeman has a ponytail (and even has one on his original Half-Life model) although in some photos it is completely absent.
    • A scientist in the locker room talks about the HEV suit and how it has a detachable helmet. In some concept art and promotional photos, Freeman is seen with a helmet, which is absent in his original in-game model, as well as most other photos depicting the character. This has caused debate to fans whether or not Freeman is wearing his helmet at all during the original game.

Gallery

While the official website is the main source for most official images, all personal websites of the respective team members also provide further, exclusive images.

Screenshots

Models

Weapons

NPCs

Vehicles

Other

Concept art

References

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.