Saturday, December 13, 2014

Black Mesa - MOD - Half-Life REMASTERED at its finest !!!

First off I 'd like to start with my appreciation for Half Life. The most of us are aware of what landmark this game had and continues to have on the gaming industry.

• Back in the day when I've got my first computer, friends kept throwing games at me which just came out or which had been available when the dark ages of dial-up internet connection was still disturbing our PC's peaceful spinning hard drive and fan noise with its robotic-analog Morse code like sounds.

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• I remember grabbing a bunch of cd's with games as soon as my friends left and let me play a game which wasn't so hot back then. I made my choice - Half Life it said. It was already an established in multiplayer genre and making its cut with it Counter Strike which I couldn't stand at all as it was just too boring for me in the meant time. CS might also had been the reason why I had given a shot for the game in the first place and also because our computer classes were more about shooting our pie holes in the multiplayer of this game - more specific - the map Crossfire, than truly being able to learn what computers can do for us and not just consider them as an entertaining platform.

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• Well after inserting the disk into the drive and finally making it through its short installation process until hitting the shortcut to start the game, I made it through the intro section of the game which to this day I find a disgrace for not being able to skip it to get to the more interactive part. While the excitement level still was at the hesitation of hitting quit and let it rest on desktop for a while until hitting uninstall before disk space comes short, I managed to survive through the intro, which of course I was able to fully appreciate later after I could appreciate a computer game as a "Work of Art !" some time later.

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• As for black mesa, I was hyped for this mod for so long. It kept on winning upcoming mod of the year awards year after year and after being able to take a deep breath when realizing its development's still not dead, I passed until a release date was set. By that time a I was such a huge fan of the series that I took a day off from work, just to be able to download the mod as fast as possible and play it the first thing in the morning. At least that were my imagination of what it should have been.

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• I remember the release date just like yesterday… As I'm from Europe, the downloads were not open until late afternoon and in addition to that, their server just couldn't handle the demand. Finally a torrent was uploaded and saved the day for me.

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• As much as I have been looking forward to play the mod I could not appreciate it with its beauty and I couldn't get rid of that feeling of disappointment while I was still trying to have as much fun as possible. I remember setting my expectation wrong as I was looking for something which made the game a port into a new engine with richer environment while keeping its main element - story line - true to the original. Not to mention that the chapter "On a rail" and few other level were cut in comparison to the original. Its final chapter "Xen" was also completely left out and is still omitted from the mod, but this was known prior to its release and I didn’t care much for it. So the initial impression after completing the game were miserable although I knew that my judgment wasn't objective and I wasn't able to process the experience for what it was either. So I put it aside with the thought I will get back to it one day. The last thing I remembered was that mod ran horrible in its final scene prior teleporting yourself as the mighty Gordon Freeman to Xen where the mod also ended. It was a slideshow at its best. Found out later that this was actually a a bug and still remains in the most recent version. As soon as you are killed and there is some intensive fight going on, then the framerate drops to 15 FPS and below after you load your last save, making it hardly playable. Same goes for the Nihilanth (final boss) fight at the very end of the game.

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• Since the release date, new content has been added while Xen is still missing from the game and being in its alpha development stage (a quite impressive one for an alpha), it now feels as complete as possible. So I recently done a re-play of the whole package available as of now and was stunned.

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• I'm not the biggest fan of remastered games but at the same time it's important to keep their legacy alive, while there is no doubt that Half Life will not be forgotten anytime soon, it deserved a bit of a revamp as much as any other gem in the gaming industry. I hope that Black Mesa gets more support and will be more refined in the future, because let's not forget that the project was freely available while offering a paid-game experience.

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•Last but not least, the modders thought of everything and created their own soundtrack for the game, which of course doens't leave a single doubt about the greatness of this project.

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    • So what could be done to improve it:
  • ♦ MAPS AND LOCATIONS: while I know this game by heart, there are some sections that were left out, although I can't point specific parts, but some transition between levels or maps seem weird and my sense still tells me that there is something missing.
  • ♦ ENEMY AI: Not to mention gameplay difficulty seems somehow easier and other times unbalanced, but there is a lack of proper scripting as for behaviour of the enemies. I had often find myself to discover NPC's standing still I didn't approach them by certain paths. On the other hand I must praise the AI as it's different from original HL yet caught me by surprise and the movement can't be predicted.
  • ♦ VALVE SUPPORT: This game was one of the first to be voted for Steam's green light yet it's still missing from the steam library. I would really expect more support from Valve for such a masterpiece of a mod, but we all know how unpredictable this company is. I still believe one day it will show up on Steam and will be finally marked as completed to reach even a wider audience.
  • ♦ XEN: A game changer that is, if you already thought that the game has become repetitive by running through the facilities of Black Mesa, it serves you even a bigger surprise and you have to adapt your game play style now of rather wide open world than the one of a lab rat.

☺ RATING: Priceless - something made by pure enthusiasts and fanatics to create some kind of tribute to one of the greatest. You still have to own HL2 though, which every steam library should contain.

Black Mesa