I can’t believe I’m actually finally writing this article – but yes, the long-awaited Black Mesa: Source has just been released, as previously announced at the beginning of this month! Oh lord, call the fire department, because I am on fire.
Just in case you’ve been living under some manner of rock or perhaps pebble, Black Mesa is the long-awaited, fan-developed, “Valve-quality” re-imagining, of Valve’s original, quintessential 1998 FPS release: Half-Life, the first game Valve ever made, and the most influential action games ever created.
Black Mesa aims to recreate the entirety of the original game, while extensively updating and re-designing it, according to more sophisticated, refined and modern design standards. Everything has been re-designed, re-made, and completely re-adapted – so consider this an entirely new game on its own.
And just to put things in perspective here… this thing has been in development since November of 2004, and its earliest stages of inceptions took place in September and October… which means that technically, Black Mesa has been in development since before Half-Life 2 was even released. Eep.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well then, I’d say this is the most highly-anticipated, and by far, the most ambitious free fan-made video game modification, in gaming history.
It’s hard to even call it a mod, as for all intents and purposes, it is simply a free game. Built completely from the ground up; well over 10 hours in length; and it does not require any game in order to run. And this is a game that according to its own developers, aims for the highest echelons and standards of “Valve-quality“.
For that matter, this may be the first really significant Half-Life-related release, since HL2: Episode Two was released 5 years ago, in October of 2007. Sure, this may not have been made by Valve… but I’d say that the guys that made Black Mesa are just as creative, talented, and as passionate as Valve themselves are! And I think that’s more important than an official licensing deal.
Besides, if Gearbox Software managed to make three Half-Life expansions (which, depending on who you ask, might not have been that good in the first place), then I’d say some of the most dedicated and skilled Half-Life enthusiasts out there, can definitely do the franchise justice!
But it seems I got carried away there! For Black Mesa: Source is out. Right. Now.
However, the last 4 chapters of the game, set on the Xen borderworld; as well as the game’s multiplayer deathmatch component, have both not yet been completed, and will therefore be released at a later date. But even those 4 chapters are going to be expanded into a much larger component of the game – so instead of only getting the last quarter of the game, we’re probably gonna get a whole new game on its own. And hopefully Black Mesa: Deathmatch will provide us with a nostalgic, but solid multiplayer experience unlike any other currently on the market.
Until then, we’ve got three quarters of the entirety of the original game, taking place in all of its Earthbound sections and chapters – and that’ll be enough until Xen comes out. And the best part? It is completely and utterly free. That’s right: you’re getting a re-imagined, modern-day rendition of the original Half-Life for free.
You don’t need to actually buy or own anything, because Black Mesa: Source runs on the Source SDK Base 2007, which is automatically and freely provided with every single Steam account. That means anyone (yes, including you there) can play Black Mesa.
You will need the SDK Base ’07 installed in order to run Black Mesa. The good thing is if you don’t have it installed, Steam will automatically download it for you, when you try to run Black Mesa. However, if you want to waste no time in launching the mod, just click here to install the SDK Base.
And of course, you’ll need to download Black Mesa: Source from here. Just pick your download location poison, then get ready to rock.
In layman’s terms: if you have a Steam account, go play Black Mesa: Source. Right now.
They’re waiting for you, Gordon. In the test chamber.