Do you look back on the original Half-Life game with nostalgia and pleasant memories of blowing up aliens, squishing enemies with a crowbar and exploring the Black Mesa compound?
You’re not alone, and that means that the total conversion mod called Black Mesa will definitely be something you want to look into. It provides, completely for free, a revitalized and retouched Half-Life experience based on the Source game engine from Valve.
Many years in development, and winner of several awards in that time, Black Mesa TCM has been one of the most highly anticipated and watched mods ever developed for any game engine. The big news of the day is, however, that it has finally been released and is available to the general public!
For those that don’t know, TCM stands for Total Conversion Modification and that is a decent description of what Black Mesa really is. It is a complete overhaul of the original Half-Life game with all new graphics, sounds, etc. that can be played completely separate from the original. In this case, the Mod has been accepted and is being distributed by the original creation companies, Valve and Steam. Both companies are working in tandem to allow any player to create a free steam account and download and play the Black Mesa TCM without owning or purchasing the original Half-Life game. This is a great thing for the gamer of yesteryear that loved playing the first version of the game but felt slightly let down by the Source version that was released later. As the web site states: “The idea is to remake the storyline used in Half Life into a new polished Source Engine version with new models, maps, soundtrack, voice acting and textures.”
Ultimately, this means the gameplay will be familiar to those that played the original, the environment will appear more up to today’s standards of gaming. The web site contains a ton of information chronicling the history and development of the mod, including some pretty cool before/after screenshots like those shown here:
Nearly every detail has been retouched or redone completely to improve and modernize the entire environment and it’s overall feel to the player. Note the detailed shadows and texture work on the after shot, compared to what we thought of at the time as pretty advanced graphics. By today’s standards, the original Half Life is woefully outdated as far as graphics goes, at the very least, but the gameplay, story and other points hold up so well that even today, years and years after the first orange box came off the shelf, it is still a blast to play.
The Mod has been released now and is available through Steam for free download and play, and has been released up through the Lambda Core level. In the near future, they will release an even more final version that will (hopefully) cover the rest of the single player experience, along with redone death match as well.
Whether you played the original Half-Life or not, this total conversion is an absolute joy to play and a boon to the gaming community as both a way to memorialize and re-vitalize the original game that led to so many great things in the world of PC as well as console gaming. The original was responsible for such things as Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike, both of which began as user created mods and became major phenoms of their own time in their own rights. It’s often been said that Valve did for first person shooters what Blizzard did for real-time strategies, which is pretty high praise indeed. So, go check out what Black Mesa has to offer you, and post your comments about your experience with it here, I’d love to hear what you have to say after checking it out! Personally, I enjoyed it at least as much as the original, and with the added nostalgia, it was one of the more satisfying game sessions I have had in a long while. Until next time, my friends!
- Get the Black Mesa TCM here (many different mirror links, some work, some don’t so just keep trying all of them)
- Watch the Black Mesa Official Trailer here
- System Requirements
Windows XP, Vista, or 7
6.9 GB of free hard drive space (not including *free* Source Sdk Base 2007, installed separately)
Minimum: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz or AMD Processor, 1 GB RAM, Shader model 2.0, ATI 9600, NVidia 6600 or better, DirectX 8.1 compatible sound
Recommended: Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz or AMD Processor, 1 GB RAM, Shader model 3.0, NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better, DirectX 9.0c compatible sound