Black Mesa was originally released for free in 2012 however, it has recently made it’s way onto Steam early access with a few new features such as multiplayer. The developers wanted to re-envision the original Half-Life game, which was released in 1998, to add a whole new level of detail and immersion. We are very keen to dive into Black Mesa to see how they have recreated and enhanced the Half-Life universe.
The visuals in Black Mesa are fantastic, carrying the usual style we see from games based on the Source engine. The models are impressive, with the majority of them recognizable from the original Half-Life.
The environments within this game are also breathtaking, retaining the feel of them from Half-Life while drastically improving the quality and detail.
While the graphics have been improved, it was not the only focus of Black Mesa. The developers have also included many minor changes to each levels design within the game to help further enhance the gameplay. In addition, the developers have included a range of new sounds, dialog and music to help create an immersive atmosphere in the game. With a range of new little touches it helps Black Mesa stand out, rather than be a clone of the original Half-Life simply with a visual upgrade.
For the most part, the single player experience is great though we did encounter a few bugs, mostly with the AI ignoring Freeman however, we can look past this given it’s an early access game.
The most exciting part for us was the multiplayer. We have always enjoyed Half-Life:Deathmatch and even fire up the game to play it every so often. It was fantastic to see Black Mesa follow the classic deathmatch style of the game and it certainly helps it stand out from the recent modern shooters which slams perks and weapon camouflages in your face. Thankfully, Black Mesa retains the fast and intense gameplay and even features such as being able to change the model of your character.
The multiplayer maps are recreations of the original maps such as Stalkyard, Bounce and Lambda Bunker. They closely resemble the original maps so if you are familiar with them you’ll generally have no problems navigating these. Each map has a few small changes, though they are welcomed and help to balance the match.
One massive drawback for the multiplayer feature is the lack of players. Despite being, in our opinion, an excellent multiplayer game there are not many players online. Most servers sadly sit empty, begging players to join to brush off the cobwebs. Occasionally there are a few servers brimming with players though other times you may struggle to find many other players. We expect, and hope, that the player base will grow as the game progresses through early access.
In conclusion we feel that Black Mesa ticks all of the boxes for a wonderful recreation of the Half-Life universe. With upgraded visuals and improved gameplay it is certainly worthwhile for anyone who was a fan of Half-Life to play through. The multiplayer in Black Mesa is outrageously fun, though sadly the lack of players makes it difficult to play at times. We thoroughly enjoyed the game and would recommend it to any Half-Life fan who wishes to step into the Half-Life universe again.