Black Mesa is a Half-Life remake that started as a fan project by the aptly named Crowbar Collective. The idea was to bring the timeless classic into the 21st century, and now it’s turned into a fully commercial endeavor. Programmed in the same Source engine that powered Half-Life 2, Black Mesa promises a minimum of ten hours of co-op or solitary enjoyment in the campaign.
The majority of changes are purely cosmetic: the textures are crisper and the world is much more lifelike. There is also a greater variety in character models, meaning you will no longer see the same security guard over and over again. The weapons are the same, with some minute balance corrections, mostly for the multiplayer mode. The only significant change is that leeches, probably the most annoying underwater enemy ever conceived, were removed from the game as they tended to confuse and distract players.
The original difficulty and the survival atmosphere have been retained, making Black Mesa truly refreshing in the decade of hand-holding tutorials and quick-time events. Black Mesa still lacks the last chapter of the game (Xen), but this could most likely be considered an improvement, as Xen is universally loathed by players due to its insta-kill, low-gravity jumping puzzles.
We definitely need more of these remakes to allow us to relive the glory days of video gaming. However, keep in mind that Black Mesa is still not complete and it will takea while until it reaches the level of polish the original Half-Life has. If you can tolerate its quirks, Black Mesa is available for $19.99 on Steam and is being patched daily.