This article is about a mod.
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. 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  and posted a countdown on the official website. 
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. Some Half-Life 2 models were used with custom textures, such as the crowbar, the Headcrab, the Barnacle, and the crow.
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 did not include the Xen chapters but did include Deathmatch multiplayer mode. The old 2012 version however won't be updated anymore due to technical and time constraints.
In November 2018, an update containing Xen was announced on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Half-Life, given an official release date of 2019. The first part of the chapter Xen was released on June 25th as part of a technical beta. The rest of the chapter Xen, along with Gonarch's Lair, became available on August 2nd, and the first part of Interloper was released on October 1st. The final chapters of the storyline were eventually released on December 7th. The whole Xen segment was largely expanded and improved in comparison to the original game.
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 created by PSR Digital was released in December of 2015. It is only compatible with the mod version; 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".
- 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 that Kleiner inspects could 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, which were exclusive to Opposing Force (except that now they wield the same primary weapons as the regular soldiers). Black Ops assassins also return, now wearing what appear to be black Advanced Knee Replacements or Long Fall Boots from the Portal series; their Glock 17 pistols aren't suppressed anymore, although their firing sounds are still quieter than normal. Unlike in Half-Life, where security guards only carry Glock 17s, 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).
In the mod version, HECU Marines were always heard communicating with loud voices via radio, like in Half-Life. However, the Steam version has replaced most of their chatter, and the soldiers now speak with an unfiltered voice during normal circumstances, similarly to Opposing Force, and sound much more human than before. In rare occasions, some HECU soldiers can be seen using RPGs before switching to their standard MP5, likely substituting the M202A1 FLASH that is absent from Black Mesa.
The Xen creatures are roughly the same as the original Half-Life. However, in the chapters set in Xen, there are some new variations of existing creatures:
- HEV Zombies - Zombified scientists wearing HEV Suits; their suits emit distorted voices, and when a Zombie is killed, the "beep" sound for an HEV user's death is heard.
- It should also be noted that the part set on Earth features zombified security guards and zombified HECU soldiers, both of which were only present in Opposing Force.
- Explosive Houndeyes - Red glowing Houndeyes that explode when attacking the player or when shot with a single bullet.
- Knockback Houndeyes - Tougher version of the original Houndeye; their sonic attacks heavily knock the player to the back and/or upwards rather than dealing direct damage.
- Beneathicles - Underwater Barnacles attached upside down at the bottom of the water.
While in Xen, all Vortigaunts in the chapter "Interloper" are docile towards Gordon. This behavior, understandably a rebellion against the Nihilanth, was carried over from the original game, where this was only the case at one instance. Early in the chapter, an Alien Grunt is seen beating up a Vortigaunt to the ground while another Grunt keeps an eye on the other frightened Vortigaunts, until Gordon intervenes. While they do not assist Freeman in direct combat, the Vortigaunts will help him in a few tasks, such as disabling some force fields that were blocking his path. However, Alien Controllers will sometimes appear, and will force them to attack Gordon; the Vortigaunts become friendly again once the Controllers are killed. It should also be noted that Alien Grunts are more agile in Xen than they were on Earth, being able to strafe faster and jump towards elevated surfaces.
Weapons and equipment
The same handheld weapons from Half-Life appear, remodeled, although the behavior of some of them has been modified. For example, the MP5 has a realistic 30-round magazine and less reserve ammunition than before, but deals higher damage, is more accurate, and fires M203 grenades faster. Another example is that the Crossbow deals extremely high damage (being capable of killing an Alien Grunt with one hit in the torso, even in Hard mode), at the expense of a very low fire rate and much less bolts in reserve. Mounted weapons such as the Browning M2 are usable again.
Like in Half-Life 2, the player is able to pick up certain objects, often required in order to progress through the game. Flares can sometimes be picked up, allowing Gordon to set enemies on fire, most notably early in the game when he hasn't picked up the crowbar yet.
The Long Jump Module is now equipped with landing jets, negating fall damage while progressing through Xen.
There are some devices in Xen (like Healing Showers) that will restore not only the player's health, but their armor as well. Additionally, some devices in the chapter "Interloper" have the ability to refill the depleted uranium ammunition for the Tau Cannon and the Gluon Gun; these devices can be used for an unlimited amount of times.
Awards and recognition
- Mod DB – Top Unreleased Mod for 2005
- Mod DB – Top Unreleased Mod for 2006
- Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2007
- Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2008
- Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2009
- Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2010
- Mod DB – Honorable mention for Top Unreleased Mod for 2011
- Mod DB – Mod of the Year 2012 - 1st Place.
The tracks with a "pre-2019" note next to them were only played in older versions of the game, prior to the Xen updates in 2019. Additionally, while "Resonance" plays in a part set on Earth, Joel Nielsen's website lists it among the Xen tracks, as it was released alongside them.
|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||01:47||Part 1 (00:27)||Apprehension: while Gordon is being dragged by two HECU Marines.|
|Part 3, reversed (00:17)||Apprehension: when Gordon is knocked out by a Marine.|
|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 power, fuel and oxygen lines have been activated.|
|End Credits Part 1||01:27||Pre-2019 only||Lambda Core: during the first part of the ending credits.|
|End Credits Part 2||01:56||Lambda Core: during the second part of the ending credits.|
|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||Steam only||Office Complex: when entering the first office after the power switch has been turned off.|
|On a Rail 1||02:15||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 in the solid waste incineration area.|
|Surface Tension 1||02:30||Part 1 (01:32)||Surface Tension: upon reaching the dam guarded by the HECU.|
|Part 2 (01:12)||Surface Tension: when fighting the Apache helicopter in the cliffside area.|
|Surface Tension 2||02:01||Surface Tension: while crossing the cliffside area.|
|Surface Tension 3||01:40||Part 1 (00:53)||Surface Tension: as Gordon advances before encountering the Gargantua.|
|Part 2 (00:47)||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||Steam only||Surface Tension: during a fight between Marines and aliens, when a Tank gets destroyed by an Alien Aircraft.|
|Unforeseen Consequences||01:07||Pre-2019 only||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||Pre-2019||Unforeseen Consequences: when Gordon exits the test chamber after the Resonance Cascade.|
|Current Steam version||Unforeseen Consequences: while descending on a platform as Headcrabs come out of a vent above.|
|Part 2 (01:30); Steam only|| Unforeseen Consequences: as Gordon wakes up after the Resonance Cascade.
First few seconds also play when meeting Eli and Isaac (unless the track was still playing before).
|Mscl_Ambience1||01:12||Unforeseen Consequences: while 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: after 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: while descending with the elevator at the start, 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.|
|Blast Pit 2||01:29||Unused.|
|Black Mesa Theme||00:54||Unused.|
Xen soundtrack (Steam version only)
|Transcendent||01:34||Xen: after arriving on Xen.|
|Internal Conflict||02:50||Gonarch's Lair: during the final part of the Gonarch fight.|
|Entangled||01:44||Xen: in the area containing the first Xen Trees.|
|Convergence||01:58||Part 1 (00:23)||Xen: when Freeman sees the island that contains the teleporter leading to the Gonarch's lair.|
|Full track||Xen: upon reaching the large tree branches connected to the aforementioned island.|
|Alien||03:02|| Gonarch's Lair: during the first part of the Gonarch fight.
Also plays directly after "Internal Conflict".
|The Hunting||02:53||Part 1 (01:36)||Gonarch's Lair: when the Gonarch destroys a bridge after Freeman has crossed the toxic water.|
|Part 2 (01:21)||Gonarch's Lair: as Freeman escapes from the Gonarch after exiting a small cavern located next to a waterfall.|
|Lair||03:51||Gonarch's Lair: in a small area containing many yellow crystals, with the Gonarch standing on a large webbing above Gordon.|
|Mind Games||01:12||Interloper: when Alien Controllers appear for the first time and force the Vortigaunts to attack Gordon.|
|Shadows of Death||02:34||Interloper: when escaping from a wave of multiple Gargantuas.|
|Interloper||01:43||Interloper: in the first area of the factory.|
|Harbinger||02:43||Interloper: when fighting Alien Grunts teleporting not far from some Healing Showers.|
|Critical Mass||01:53||Interloper: upon encountering the Alien Controllers while riding on the conveyor belts.|
|Ascension||03:14||Part 1 (01:16)||Interloper: while fighting a shielded Controller and a couple of Alien Grunts next to the large elevator at the end.|
|Part 2||Interloper: while ascending with the elevator after the aforementioned fight.|
|Respite||01:39||Interloper: at the portal leading to the Nihilanth's chamber.|
|Limitless Potential||02:13||Endgame: during the first part of the ending credits.|
|Border Worlds||01:42||Endgame: during the second part of the ending credits.|
|Catalyst||02:31||In the main menu after starting up the game.|
|Event Horizon||01:25||Alternate track for the main menu.|
|Ascension Reprise||03:14||Part 1||Interloper: plays directly after the second part of "Ascension".|
|Part 2 (01:10)||Interloper: while fighting the last Alien Controllers.|
|Nihilist||05:00||Nihilanth: while fighting the Nihilanth.|
|xen-ride0||01:55||Interloper: when using the final large elevator for the first time.|
- 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.
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.
Note that many of these images show pre-release models, or models that are only in the mod version.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Community Update, Fall 2012 on the Black Mesa forums
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Black Mesa on Steam: “Black Mesa Complete Beta”
- ↑ "Countdown until release
- ↑ Black Mesa on Steam: “Half-Life is 20! - Xen Trailer!”
- ↑ Black Mesa on Steam: “Xen Technical Beta”
- ↑ Black Mesa on Steam: “Xen/Gonarch Beta is LIVE!”
- ↑ Black Mesa on Steam: “Interloper Beta Part 1”
- ↑ Mod DB Top Unreleased Mod for 2005
- ↑ Mod DB Top Unreleased Mod for 2006
- ↑ Honorable mention at the Mod DB Top Unreleased Mod for 2007
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