Guest Post: Black Mesa Review by Joshtie

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So ladies and gentlemen! Today we have a guest review from awesome YouTube gamer Joshtie, you can check out his review below and there is also a link to his YouTube channel there as well. I hope you enjoy the review and keep it G33k!

So, Black Mesa, there is honestly so much to talk about when it comes to this title, but I guess I’ll start with the basics.
Black Mesa was released on Steam for £15.99 on May 7, 2015 and was previously available for free as an online download from its developers from 14 September, 2012. It was developed (and still is being developed) by ‘Crowbar Collective’ and is a Source Engine remake of Valve’s debut 1998, Half Life. I should firstly state that the whole game is not a copy, mainly because it only captures the areas of the story on Earth rather than also including the last few ‘Xen’ levels, but I’ll get onto the reasons why later on, the game so far, includes the chapters from ‘Inbound’ to the end of ‘Lambda Core’, but luckily, the huge amount of detail added into the game lengthens the story massively compared to Half Life.

So, from here it’s only logical to start with the many positive aspects of the game, the first and most obvious change is the updated graphics, and overall they look great, while Half Life looked great for its time, it never has aged as well as Half Life 2, which still looks good. And while Black Mesa’s graphics are far behind the most recent generation of consoles, they look great and they managed to keep me more engaged in the story, as everything just looked more realistic, and, possibly the new and updated graphics will make the Half Life series appeal more to other audiences who prefer newer games, in short, the graphics are great.
Another feature that Black Mesa deserves praise for, is that they managed to recreate the Black Mesa facility with the same sort of details that valve did, and then expanded on those. What made the idea of Half Life and a cutting-edge science facility seem more realistic in the modern world was all those little details. Those who have played the original Half Life will know about these, the microwave you could mess about with, the personnel you could try to talk to, the computers and alarms you could set off and tamper with. Black Mesa has succeeded in recreating these brilliantly, while also adding some new details of their own, like a scientist needing toilet paper in the changing rooms, countless posters everywhere and personnel having conversations with each other, linking to this is the voice acting, which has been done extremely well and is very similar to that of Half Life itself.

While the story hasn’t been changed, it’s more engaging and is longer than before, if the Xen levels were added, the Black Mesa would be about twice as long as Half Life, a great feature, as not everyone wants to play the same game over and over again. I’m perfectly happy with how the story ends, but, since I’ve played Half Life, I knew what would happen in the end, while it’s not possible to include the Xen levels currently, those who got to the end of ‘Lambda Core’ will know what happens, and, with the lack of Xen, there is no finale to the game so far, while this feature wouldn’t make sense as Black Mesa is essentially a reskinned Half Life, the ending just seems too easy, by this point you will have all of the games weapons and all the ammunition you can get, the game just doesn’t seem challenging at most points. Most of the difficulty you will encounter before the Xen Levels will be puzzle solving, while the Xen level finales are pure ‘shoot this giant boss’ FPS logic, however, I don’t have a problem with this, yet I know that some people will.

The final plus-side of Black Mesa is the upgraded multiplayer, right now, there are few people who own Black Mesa and most of the servers are always empty, there is currently only one game mode, which is free-for-all deathmatch, which can be fun but is repetitive and boring. However, the official and new Steam Workshop maps are very exceptional and since Black Mesa is in active development, new game modes have been confirmed by Crowbar Collective and will hopefully be implemented soon.

No game can be perfect, Black Mesa is no exception, and the main downside is the price, many ‘long-time’ Half Life fans have complained at the games high price tag, while the original Half Life is only £6.99, almost £10 less then Black Mesa. While I acquired my copy in the Steam 2015 summer sale about a month after Black Mesa’s release, I didn’t save much money, despite this, I believe I got my m
money’s worth, some hardcore Half Life fans are not convinced.

And, the lack of Xen levels is disappointing, however, I can’t moan at this too much since adding new textures for the Xen levels would require an update of the version of Source Engine that Black Mesa uses, so I doubt Black Mesa will see Xen however.

Overall, Black Mesa is a great remastered, reskinned, and rebooted view at Valve’s 1998 game Half Life, the addition of the Steam workshop has allowed a level of community interaction that Half Life never could, and Crowbar Collective have delivered massively in terms of single player and multiplayer action. While the whole game cannot be updated, the game has been made more immersive with high-quality graphics and realistic detail.
9/10 –Josh Tierney.

You can find Josh on YouTube here where he also did a video review of the game.

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