They’re waiting for you, Gordon…
For those of you chomping at the bit for more Half-Life, you won’t have to wait until the elusive Half-Life 3 is (hopefully and eventually) released. Today, Black Mesa, the long awaited rebuild of the original 1998 first-person shooter, is available for download...mostly.
Following the release (and subsequent success) of Half-Life 2 in 2004, Valve re-released several of their titles, ported to the Source and Havok engines. The original Half-Life was among these re-released titles, now labeled Half-Life: Source. However, while physics and lighting effects received a facelift, textures, architecture, and models remained unchanged. Following mixed reviews of the lackluster re-release, the inevitable fan remake took root, initially starting out as two independent projects – Leakfree and Half-Life: Source Overhaul Project. Eventually, these two development groups saw their common goal and joined forces, forming the 13-person team now labeled Black Mesa: Source.
Over the next 8 years, the name would be shortened to simply Black Mesa, and the development team would grow to 40 volunteer level designers, programmers, modelers, texture artists, animators, sound engineers, voice actors, and support staff. The team released a teaser trailer in 2005, followed by a full-length preview trailer in 2008. While videos and screenshots were enough to whet the appetites of fans, the project was plagued by delays, pushing the proposed releases dates from a "late 2009" to a frustratingly vague "when it's done." Thankfully, the September 14th, 2012 release date took hold when the Black Mesa homepage began featuring a countdown clock earlier this month. The catch? The game will be released only up to the point where the player reaches Xen in the original Half-Life. The developers plan to release the Xen levels at a later date. With the current content, they estimate that players will have eight to ten hours of content to complete.
Having started my journey into the Half-Life universe with Half-Life 2 via the Orange Box on the Xbox 360, I’m excited to finally get to play the original Gordon Freeman adventure in all the glory everyone's favorite physicist-turned-action hero deserves. So, polish your crowbar and charge up your HEV suit. The headcrabs are coming.