Personal Reviews

ok, so I am still in Office Complex right now, but I’m going to give my review of the mod so far.

Already you can feel that the dev team have tried to make this their own and not just a straight clone with better graphics. I love the little changes which throw the player off balance. For example, not giving us the crowbar where we expected it to be. I was worried that I had missed it! But actually, it was a great idea to do this.
The dialogue is great and I love the jokes spread throughout.

I’m iffy with Eli’s voice (it just doesn’t seem quite right), but on the whole the voice acting is absolutely fantastic. Extremely professional.

The resonance cascade machine looks and feels like something real. The detail to the labs and offices is immersive. It feels like a real working facility.
This was one of the issues I had with the original HL game. There were hundreds of grey corridors and yet there didn’t actually seem to be anywhere for people to work. Just corridors connecting to more corridors and in between there was a room or two.
The BM team have made this feel like a real working complex.

I prefer the old Vortigun voices, but I understand why the change was made. I absolutely love the zombie gargles and moans. The Houndeyes are terrifying now that they have their super blast.

I haven’t even gotten to any soldiers yet, but from what I have seen so far I already know that the quality will be top notch.

Easily a 10/10.
Black Mesa improves upon and expands the Half Life world to a point we never imagined and to a level of quality unseen in other mods.


Ok, so I’m currently at On a Rail. I hate on a rail. So the fact that it’s shortened greatly pleases me (although I can imagine that it would cause a few tears amongst other players)
There have been many complaints about the Marines. I’m split on this issue; while they are indeed really difficult, I kind of think that they should be. They’re an elite military unit, so of course they should be able to give a scientist a real headache. But as has been mentioned, the MP5 does seem weak in your hands compared to when they use it. But this difficulty does create a different kind of gameplay. I found myself playing half life like I would play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I was trying to conserve my ammo and health and look for more intelligent ways to take on enemies than just blasting my way in. In the original half life you could run into a room of 4 Marines and come out only losing a little health. If you try this in BMS you WILL die. So I’ve had far more use for grenades and trip mines than I ever did in the original.

Umm…yeah, the point of this thread is to place your review in. Just to stop the forums being clogged with endless threads made purely for review.

A trip through nostalgia, nothing more

This is somewhat of a harsh review, but I’m hoping my opinion can be accepted as just that: An opinion.

BMS is a high quality mod, and I would even pay for it, but ultimately it’s a lost opportunity to make something great.

The npcs are (mostly) good. The Houndeye is great, the way it blinks with its foreskin-like eye socket (sorry) is really neat! The Gargantua deserves a redesign. It looks like some big monster a kid drew up. That’s how ridiculous it looks. BMS decided to go the safe route and just keep it the stupid way it is. The alien grunt still looks ridiculous too. The headcrab/zombie/vortigaunt are all great, but that’s not something I should really be commenting on as they were also from HL2. The new scientists are a big plus, and while not all of them are unique, the change from scientist to scientist is much appreciated. BMS is a remake, but for the most part, the npcs are only an HD facelift, and nothing new has been added on this front.

The maps start off great, and then decline. The prologue is fantastic, all the way until after Office Complex. While there are some awesome visuals and good maps to be found in the Residue Processing (awesome garbage), a breathtaking vista seen on the cliff side of Arizona, and Lambda Complex was very well redone, the rest of the game is merely a facelift. HL1 was a game made when computers were crappy, so they had to resort to blocky corridors. BMS does not successfully redesign these… so what you get are HD Blocky Corridors.

The weapons are great. Even the glock shoots nicely. An extra nod for the hivegun animation.

The gameplay seems to be more balanced. I played it on hard, and even if the mechanics are simple, the game can still provide a genuine adrenaline rush. There was a particular scene I was stuck on, in Residue Processing, in the vents where you had to jump or duck across a few stomping plates. I was stuck on that 5 second bit for 20 minutes, so I god moded that part. The enemy roles are vastly different and add good variety to the gameplay, but this is owed to more of what Valve left behind, rather than what BMS has added.

The sounds are great. Excellent voice acting with no thanks to Dr. Freeman, powerful gun bangs penetrate visceral splats, and atmospheric sounds keep me feeling isolated.

Being the price of Free, I am greatly appreciative of this mod, and that is exactly why I sought out to review it in an honest fashion. While I can recommend BMS to anyone with a moderate interest in First Person Shooting or Quantum Theory, I believe that BMS ultimately fails to aspire. What could have been a great remake, a great redesign, is simply an HD Facelift of a very aged fps classic.

8.2 out of 10, scoring as a free mod. What exactly would get a 10/10? Natural Selection 1.

Personally, I feel that Black Mesa is worthy of being a AAA title, and being sold as such. It’s a very high-quality product worthy of praise. I just don’t think it’s quite “Half-Life” enough. I feel exactly the opposite of the previous review - Black Mesa changes too much. I liked the blocky hallways and the jumping puzzles and the miles of train tracks. It’s what made Half-Life what it is, and it’s what makes it completely incomparable to Half-Life 2.

What Black Mesa does is all aces (aside from a few glitches here and there), but it just seems to “fix” too much about Half-Life and, in so doing, take away too much of what I liked about it. Again - On a Rail and Surface Tension are DRASTICALLY cut down, almost all the jumping puzzles have been bypassed by either not sending the player through them or providing ladders and direct access routes and some locations are just unrecognisable as Half-Life in any way, shape or form. The thing is… I like Half-Life, not just “a game in the Source engine which retells the events of Black Mesa.”

That shouldn’t take away from the game’s quality. Black Mesa is amazing. The look and style are top-notch, and the reimagining of signature machines - the Lambda reactor, the Sector C test emitter, etc. - are amazing and the characters actually look and act like real people. A lot of the unfair fights are taken out, crucially making the sea monsters a LOT easier to kill and the game is overall amazing. I love how “Barneys” now show up using a variety of guns, not just the worthless 9mm, which is no longer worthless in their hands, even.

But it’s not Half-Life. I played the original so many time I can visualise the entire playthrough from memory having not touched it in years. Sometimes I can spot the remade parts when they still resemble the original, but a lot of times it’s a completely different thing and, crucially, a lot of times there are large chunks of level just missing.

Definitely play Black Mesa, but don’t expect it to be Half-Life.

This, this, 100x this. Moving the crowbar to later in the level was an absolutely brilliant move.

I don’t see why people complain about “on a rail” the removed passages were mostly “fillers” anyway. The way it is is actually perfect, the pacing is better.
But I want to ask a developer (please answer) from the “leaked” footage there was a train with soldiers on it, but they didn’t come when I was playing it… did you change it or simply a bug?

I’m not a developer, but there were soldados on a train riding alongside and trying to kill me. It was for a short time period though, because the tracks separated our ways.

weird then… likely glitched

i think it would concern gamers to know that weapons are not in the same place as the original and would fell like i did, that we had missed it

Well then you disregard HL1.
Oh, my review.

Right from the main menu you can see the amazing work of the mod. The sound effects, level design, textures, everything shows for the most part. Inbound was much less boring, what with the cool-ass music and eye candy to go along with it, though this may wear off. The entire mod makes heavy use of Source’s more advanced abilities, redesigning many areas and adding entirely new ones, too. This is a great reason as to why basing your entire opinion on it compared to Half-Life isn’t fair. Black Mesa is pretty much it’s own game in many rights. Instead of lots of plain pointless corridors there are many hallways with offices and test labs and everything that a worker would need. There’s plenty of idle chatter and scripted chats by the NPCs to help everything feel more alive.

The voice acting was top notch. If you compare to the originals you can hardly tell the difference, and it’s well written, too. Eli’s voice doesn’t quite seem to fit him, though, and some of the female scientist voices sound… off at times. As well, the lack of significant voice difference tends to make it a little hard to distinguish when in larger groups.

The big events that are intended to be significant are. Nothing looks like it magically works or floats, anymore. The Anti-Mass Spectrometer, for instance. The machine looks and sounds like a monster of a machine, and like something you could very well see in real life. Speaking of which, the resonance cascade was just amazing. The scientist panicking trying to figure out what’s happening and get you out, the visual effects of the lasers and the monstrous explosions of roaring coming from the machine makes the entire scene feel so real and genuine.

From this point on the level redesign get more and more pronounced. Gigantic changes were made, completely redoing everything. It’s done in a way however that you can easily recognize each area. The paths are similar, but not exactly the same. The weapon placement reflects this, as well. Playing Black Mesa and expecting to know all of the enemy placement and weapon placement is a big mistake.

The soundtrack could very well be my favorite part of everything, though, but that could just be the fact that I can take it with me, heh heh. In all seriousness Joel Nielson did an astounding job both with SFX and music. All the ambience was really nice, and the heavier tracks were so great and fitting. Blast Pit 3, Questionable Ethics 1, End Credits, everything was just amazing. I’ll be listening to these for a long time to come.

I’d be willing to put Black Mesa right up there with Half-Life as one of the best games I’ve played, and I even seen much of Xen yet. Oh lord, I thought I couldn’t wait before.

the mod IMO should really have been just a remake. the new areas thrown in just feel like wasted time to me that could have been used for deathmatch and or a remake of decay since they did want to add co-op. i mean thats what i loved about halo CEA was that it was a complete remake, although some bonuses and or unlockables hidden around instead of new areas i would have loved, maybe some secret files or computers showing what some of the other characters are doing.

the game play just felt terrible to me, the crowbar is almost completely useless as a melee weapon with the new zombie attacks and dog monsters, even the barnacle needs a pistol now. in fact the only upgrade the crowbar got was you can now hit head crabs in the air now the revolver i thought was pretty good, the ADS seemed like a good addition and it is optional, though it than felt weird when i got the machine gun which didn’t have it. and i also don’t get why they changed the ammo count.
the whole change of the mechanics just felt completely redundant to me, additions built on to existing game play would have been fine and some worked out really well, especially the 02 counter we now have. but the whole re balancing just to make it different and combat changes felt stupid to me, and it doesn’t even feel like HL game play now.

the graphics however are spectacular for this and make the place feel like black mesa, only character model i didn’t like was how the vortigaunts now have the crotch piece, its that awkward thing where you just look at it because it was added in.

the voice acting was also great but the soldiers really shouldn’t have been purposefully over the top, I’m sorry it just doesn’t fit at all.

all in all it would have been fine if they had just stuck with the original gameplay, i mean if they did that i probably wouldn’t even care about the new environments. i want change but i want it to build on top of what we had, maybe even NPCs climbing over crates or crouching down through tunnels, but re-building it from the ground up was definitely not the way to go

This is one of, if not the best mod for any game I’ve ever played. The attention to detail is astounding. I found myself walking through the introduction for at least an hour listening to all the scientists and playing with the equipment. The mod does a really good job at world-building early on, it makes the facility seem much more alive than the original HL.

In saying that, it makes the cascade that much more frightening. I seriously felt the same way I felt when I first played the original HL, not knowing what to expect around every corner. I think the level designers really have to be commended for throwing players off, things like weapon and enemy placement have changed to make the experience seem fresh even though we’re playing a remake of a game that’s over 10 years old.

The models, textures, sound, everything has such quality that you’d be forgiven for thinking that Valve made this themselves. I smiled when I saw a young Kleiner for the first time, it was totally unexpected yet seemed like it should be there. I agree with what people are saying about the younger Eli, nothing wrong with the voice actor themselves but the voice doesn’t seem to fit him. The three headed worm was really well done, and the Gargantua was really well modelled and quite scary.

It’s clear the creators have a lot of love for the first game, and it shows in subtle details. For example, the administration area once you leave the train has a button you can press under the counter. In the original I was always thinking “wouldn’t you get it loads of trouble for pressing it?” Now when you press it, it comes complete with a phonecall. Loved it. I was sad that Magnuson and Breen never made an appearance, but it doesn’t hurt the game at all. I thought the developers missed a great opportunity though when Kleiner is looking at the first headcrab in a tube. I was hoping for a throwaway remark about keeping it (Lamaar.) Oh well :frowning:

In short, this mod is absoloutly spectacular, and I reccomend it to anyone who loved HL1, or even those who didn’t first time around.

I’ve been playing for about six hours. I was about 28 years old when the original HL came out, so I’ve always joked I probably went to school with Gordon Freeman. That I can still enjoy this mod after all this time says something. HL is an unforgettable game and one I lost many hours in.

The mod is excellent. I don’t know who is not enjoying this but they are missing it completely. The game has all the depth we wanted HL to have when it came out. There are more than three scientists! More than six lines! More little back rooms to explore. More things that unexpectedly blow up.

I love the moving around of key weapons. I don’t have any expectations now. I’m in the original story, and some of the time I know what to expect but so much of the time I don’t that it is like I’m getting to re-live the game all over again. Just enough of the original feel to hang a hat on, not enough to bore me.

Outstanding job, guys. Well worth waiting for (I’ve avoided looking at any bits all these years to prevent overanticipation). I’m just about to start my absolute favorite chapter, On a Rail. Time to go get a beer and settle in for the evening.

Black Mesa: Roots, taking all the good parts of Black Mesa… out of Black Mesa, to gently pleasure you and your purism!

I disagree. On a Rain is one of my favourite levels from Half-Life, and seeing great chunks of it missing is sorely disappointing. So it was filler. The whole game is filler. Gordon’s objectives for the whole game can be summed up as: Disaster -> Get to the Surface -> Get to Lambda -> Kill Nihilath. Everything else is filler, but On a Rail had presentation, it had a lot of set-pieces that are entirely gone and it had atmosphere which isn’t represented by this short hop of a visit.

By the same logic, we might as well drop the entire opening train ride because that’s just filler, too. You don’t do anything on it, you don’t see anything you won’t see later and it just fills up time. But it sets up the mood, it creates atmosphere and it provides immersion. That’s what On a Rail was to me.

I get your point, but even by his logic, Black Mesa Inbound wasn’t filler. Inbound basically told the player where he/she was and what Black Mesa is. OAR was just Gordon’s trip to the rocket.

My thoughts:

– I like that they didn’t try to make it grim and gritty ala HL2, but instead left the pulpy feel of the original game intact.

– The sound design is borderline perfect. Better than most AAA retail games. Everything is really crisp and vivid.

– The amount of detail in the world is staggering. I expected a lot, and it went beyond my expectations. The final room in the lambda core? Fucking lovely.

– most of the enemies are just brilliant. The black ops assassins and second gargantua in particular come to mind as standouts.

Minor quibble:

I wish the Hecu would throw more grenades when I’m out of sight. They seemed more than happy to line up in front of doorways while I blasted through them like fish in a barrel, whereas the original Hecu were more adept at smoking me out of hiding.

Overall, I’d say it was well worth the wait and exceeded my huge expectations.

this was better than I had hoped for! Congratulations on a fantastic game! I loved everything about it. Where do I send money?

I am only up the very start of ‘Forget about Freeman’, playing on hard, but here is my review so far.

Firstly the detail they put into everything is simply fantastic. The dialogue is funny and keeps with the humor that the original had. I could go on and on about the amazing things about this mod, but I think there will be enough of that going around so here’s some things I didn’t like.

I really didn’t like that some of the chapters were severely shortened. This is completely understandable, but I really hope that the community steps up to add in some of the missing parts eventually if the devs don’t want to/feel the need to. On some of the chapters you get the feeling black mesa is just a tour of the most iconic parts from the original, leaving out everything else. Sure the mod doesn’t have to be a 1:1, but I felt there were some great sections left out.

The combat on hard. Some of it is perfect, other parts not so much. It feels like the MP5 is useless against the HECU compared to other weapons like the magnum. The reaction time and accuracy of enemies could use some scaling down in my opinion. The Vortigaunts fire way too fast leaving you to not really battle them at all, but instead hide and instantly try to kill them as they teleport in. I found the combat on hard in half-life to be a bit more enjoyable. You were able to draw out the fights longer and not find yourself going from 100 to 0 suit armor just from peeking around a corner. In this mod you find yourself reloading and killing enemies simply by learning their spawns, which takes away from the immersion.

Ladders. Oh god the ladders. I always hated the ladders from HL2 on. It’s funny that some older things just can’t be beaten. It feels like a hassle to jump off them when you want to and sometimes you simply don’t attach when you should. Some of the placements were bad too. Like you would have to do a jump right next to a ladder and end up sticking to the ladder when you tried to run by.

The hud. I don’t like the dim numbers behind the real numbers. I guess they were trying to go for that clock look, but it just meshes really bad.

Jumping. I actually found my pinky getting sore because of the amount of crouch jumping you have to do in this mod. Simple jumps shouldn’t require crouch jumping. The basic jump needs to be about twice as high as it is now.

So far I give the mod a 9/10 and I’m sure in due time it will be a 10/10 after a patch or two. The developers did an amazing job and I have a hard time calling this work of art a mod and not a AAA title.

The following is a review from the perspective of me as a game designer (I make a living from it and actually happen to work on a commercial re-imagination of an old FPS). I am just saying that, so that not some biased fanboys come out of the woodwork again and tell me “dude, get sum friggin skills !!!one!1 lol”
Of course it is still personal opinion, but I will give reason for my points.

What I won’t include in my review are glitches and bugs, because this is a free product with less testing resources and these things will be fixed anyways.

OK, let’s start.

The graphics, music and sounds are very well done and deserve praise.
A few low-res textures here and there and some animations are a bit choppy, but that is nothing which will dowgrade the overall experience.

Gameplay as a whole is great, too.

The overall redesign and removal of a few parts is actually made very well. It improves the overall pacing of the game. If it was a completely neutral and new game, not a remake, things could have been a little more tightened, but that wouldn’t have worked in this case. I am not mentioning these parts, because then this would become a review of HL1 not BM.
Let’s just say that a new player will be much less bored by On a Rail in BM than he would be in HL1.

Some parts don’t give the right feedback and could scare off a new player.
I am talking about the helicopter on the cliff, for example. I must say that I don’t know how many hits he needs on easy, but I heard it is at least 6 (am I right?).
THis could lead to frustration as there isn’t enough visual feedback that you are actually making progress in damaging the copter.
My recommendation would be to reduce the hits needed down to three on easy difficuly. Three hits is something most players will try.

On Easy the Marines could have a higher reaction time (and maybe either deal a bit less damage or have lower accuracy). It should be so that on Easy you can kill one Marine while not being in cover with a logical weapons for situations like this (MP5). So that new players have a chance on fighting and beating one Marine while not in cover without getting killed and then run into cover (when they see that you cannot simply run and gun in these situations) and use tactics on the remaining Marines.

Some walls and meshes need blocking volumes. There are a lot of walls that have litlke things sticking out half an inch and when you walk up to the wall you walk onto and stand on that half inch ledge. It makes movement a bit sloppy and less smooth in parts (and is completely unrealistinc to stand on a screw in a wall).

Jumping/crouch-jumping. If you add a mechanic for special jumps, make it special. Right now crouch jumping is needed for almost every jump, which makes the inclusion of a special jump obsolete. There is nothing special about crouch jumping, as the player has to crouch-jump anyways. In HL1 you jumped normally in most places and then had special occasions where crouch jumping is needed and gave crouch jumping an actual purpose. In BM it is nothing else than: “You need to press two buttons for a normal jump”. Everything special and unique about a special and unique thing about the HL series is gone.

The MP5 feels useless. It maybe has the correct damage and accuracy. But it feels useless. If a Marine without a HEV suit uses it on you, you die much faster in your awesome armor than the marine dies without that armor when you shoot him with the same weapon. That makes it feel useless and I ended up almost not using it at all from the second third of the game onwards.

I found the music a bit loud and reducing the music volume didn’t seem to do much (I only reduced it by one third). But that maybe is a thing that can be either patched or I need to reduce the music even further. In some parts it felt like I was in a disco trying to understand what others say. :wink:

Apart from that, I think the game is awesome. :slight_smile: