‘Black Mesa’ mod gets a graphical facelift

Robin Shin, Photographer

After the destruction of Black Mesa Research Corporation 14 years ago on “Half-Life,” the PC gamers are taken back to the year of 1998 with the help of the “Black Mesa Modification Team.”

“Black Mesa” was an eight-year long modification (also known as: Mod) project which many fans of the Half-Life franchise have been waiting and looking forward to.

Although similar mod projects can often be done by a few people,  Carlos  Montero lead a group of  desginers, programmers, artists, musicians and voice actors to make “Black Mesa” a reality.

Due to so many delays within the eight years of production, Wired magazine awarded “Black Mesa” the “Vaporware Of The Year” in 2009 and 2010. Vaporware is gaming slang for games announced to the public but never actually released or officially canceled.

Among gamers, the word has an insulting connotation, when they use the term they think that the game will not come out.

When I got my copy of “Black Mesa” and started it up on Steam, I was amazed at just how detailed the graphics looked.  The game story is just like “Half-Life.” The characters we all love are still there, but the BMMT has just taken one of PC’s best games beyond of our wildest dreams. Not only are the graphics updated, but also the Mod itself is completely free.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved and still love the original  “Half-Life,” which Valve published, but if you played it today you would remember the great plot line of how aliens began to take over the Earth but with poor graphics.

Yes, the graphics for the original game back in 1998 were great, for that time.

For those who have recently played “Black Mesa” for the first time and have been used to high graphics, would find the prequel to “Half-Life 2” very disappointing.  Sure Valve gave the sequel a huge makeover through their Source Engine, but what about the prequel?

The beginning of “Black Mesa” is similar to the original “Half-Life.” There are tweaks and slight changes within the game, such as addition of small labs, more interaction with the increased number of non-playable characters or NPC’s, and the location of the crowbar. There were also slight changes on the maps.

The entire game play of “Black Mesa” is 99.99% “Half-Life.” It is the definition of what this game is, a Mod.

“Black Mesa” is currently not officially out for Mac, making it only available on PC with the systems: Windows XP, Vista, or 7. You’ll be able to get a copy of “Black Mesa” through their website: release.blackmesasource.com with the choice of multiple download mirrors or torrent. The game will take up to 6.9 GB of free hard drive space.

If you have never played the original “Half-Life,” and don’t have the $9.99 to spare on the  game and want to give it try, or have played it but wish to watch the fall of the Black Mesa Research Corporation, and the beginning to the Earth’s fall towards alien race all over again, then “Black Mesa” is the game for you.