The Black Mesa development team have re-emerged, after an eerie 2-year radio silence. Their first new media release, titled “A Red Letter Day!“, offers us 8 new screenshots from several of the mod’s chapters: Blast Pit; Power Up; Questionable Ethics; and Surface Tension:
Thank you all so much, it’s really great to have your support! With your help we have now kicked off our social-media campaign towards our first release! You can expect more updates from us in the near future. Today we are sharing this fantastic batch of screenshots that really gives you the first glimpse into the gameplay of Black Mesa. This is just the beginning. We have more in store for you in the near future! Hold on to your lab coats!
Here are the 8 screenshots, in all their high-res glory:
This is taken from the very start of Half-Life’s seventh chapter, Power Up. Here we see the Gargantua taking on a squad of government soldiers. The Gargantua’s flame attack seems a bit… too exaggerated, and the soldier’s muzzle flash looks pretty awkward, but it looks pretty damn impressive overall. Nice.
This is from Half-Life’s fourteenth chapter, Lambda Core. The way the portals have been placed is… pretty primitive and silly (nothing to even remotely indicate that the portals are or aren’t supposed to be there), but the new detail looks splendid and the lighting is gorgeous. Good stuff.
This is somewhere in Half-Life’s eleventh chapter: Questionable Ethics. The level looks absolutely incredible – just get a load of those whiteboards! But I’m a bit let down by the fact that the team is simply using reskinned HL2 content for the Vortigaunts. And I don’t just mean the Vortigaunts themselves, which are simply using the EP2 model and skin, with no modifications whatsoever. No – their slave collars and bracelets are actually reskinned versions of the Combine bonds that HL2’s Vorts carried, which is something that most fans should be able to recognize.
Apart from that, I’d have liked the Vortigaunts themselves to look a bit different. Maybe looking a bit malnourished, much like they did in HL2 (not to be confused with Episode Two’s version of the Vortigaunt, seen in this exact screenshot). As it is, it’s sort of lazy.
Still in Questionable Ethics – this time in the lobby of the Advanced Biological Research Lab. Looking pretty good, and quite authentic. They even kept the ABRL’s original logo and slogan – “Superbus via Inscientiae“, meaning “Pride through Ignorance“. Looks pretty great!
Seems to still be in Questionable Ethics, although just like the Vortigaunt screenshot, this seems to be either an entirely new area, or a radically redesigned one. This looks like a holding tank for the Alien Grunts, although I have no idea why it’s on fire. But who cares – it looks awesome!
Starting to sound like a broken record here, but yes – still Questionable Ethics. This is definitely a new area, as the ABRL never featured any freezer areas. Notice the new Alien Grunts – they look pretty amazing! Can’t wait to go up against these guys.
Now we’re in Half-Life’s twelfth, and perhaps most memorable chapter: Surface Tension. Here, the player has just shot down a V-22 Osprey heliplane at the Topside Motorpool’s main heliport. Looks absolutely incredible, but those two random jets of flame on either sides of the Osprey’s fuselage look really, really odd.
In addition, note how the RPG launcher says “Black Mesa Research Facility property” on the side. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Black Mesa would have any need for anti-armor ordnance, and HL1 implied pretty clearly that the military had brought these things in. So maybe have it say “Santego Military Base property”, for a nice reference to HL: Opposing Force. Apart from that, everything looks pretty great – I approve.
The final screenshot depicts Half-Life’s eighth chapter, Blast Pit. I like the excessively green toxic waste – it reminds me of the good old times. Aside from that, not much else really of note regarding this screenshot. The bullsquid looks pretty cool and fearsome, and the architecture looks good.
Overall, a solid first media release to start off the mod’s new media campaign. Looking forward to seeing more in the near future – keep an eye on Black Mesa’s official Facebook page, as that’s where they’ll likely be focusing their media efforts first and foremost. Also, just in case they hold future media releases hostage in exchange for more Facebook likes again.