Reliving Gordon Freeman's Worst Day

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Reliving Gordon Freeman's Worst Day

Yahtzee takes a look at the fan-made Half-Life remake, Black Mesa.

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Play Black Mesa and to be honest - as good as it looks, as bad became the gameplay compared to the original Half Life. Mentioned jumping puzzles turned from a bit annoying but easily doable after a few jumps into "falling puzzles" because I couldn't bloody jump! Sure, when I hit space, I made something that moved me vertically up and down. But that wasn't a jump, that looked more like Gordon decided to stand on his toes for a moment. I remember how I could easily jump over half of the handrails in the original Half-Life. In Black Mesa, I get barely over one even with the crouch jump.
Then there are also some of the added effects. Most aren't even optional. A good bunch can be disabled with console (like the blood on weapons - it just looks ugly imo) but a few I just can't turn off. Like when going near radioactive waste, my screen starts to scramble, which just makes it harder to see! I got the feeling that I am a freaking robot! (That would at least explain the lack of proper jumping).

And a lot of things were already mentioned: The unfair difficulty, the changes at puzzles for no reason, ect.

Overall, I didn't even bother with it and unless the Xen-Update contains the line "made the gameplay and balancing fun like the original Half Life, like it's supposed to be", I won't even bother downloading it again - or finishing it. (Didn't even finish the current version)

So if this is the Black Messa Review, will Wednesday be Borderlands 2?

The difficulty is really the only thing putting me off. The soldiers seem to have x-ray vision and sniper-like aim half the time. Speaking as someone that has never played Half-life, I don't know all the tricks and traps and have to rely on quicksaving and quickloading too much. As for the jumping, why not instead of crouch-jumping, just let Freeman automatically tuck his feet up when jumping onto higher things?

I browsed the Steam forums to see what people had to say there, but people that made complaints were often just shot down as being bad at the game, so not much help there.

I can just imagine:

From the maker of Zero Punctuation, Guild Wars 2 has achieved massive success, here is the praise that our notorious critic has uttered:

"Um. It's alright. Check it out."
-Yahtzee

(Isn't context just the best thing ever xD )

OP: As for Half-Life, I only played the second one and the episodes that came with it...

I honestly don't know how people can be having trouble with the ladders. They're EXACTLY like they were in Half-Life 2: climb near the spot you want to be and press "E". That's it. You're safely dismounted.

Bindal:
A good bunch can be disabled with console (like the blood on weapons - it just looks ugly imo) but a few I just can't turn off. Like when going near radioactive waste, my screen starts to scramble, which just makes it harder to see!.

The option for that is "noise-shader" in the "Black Mesa" tab of the menu.

What really grabbed me about this game is all the additional dialogue they added to the game. Even before the resonance cascade, I spent about an hour just wandering around listening to everyone I could. Everyone was having an inane conversation about something, and a lot of it was quite funny. If that doesn't capture the spirit of modern-day VALVE, I don't know what does.

P.S. Thanks

Yellowbeard:
I honestly don't know how people can be having trouble with the ladders. They're EXACTLY like they were in Half-Life 2: climb near the spot you want to be and press "E". That's it. You're safely dismounted.

DVS BSTrD:
A good bunch can be disabled with console (like the blood on weapons - it just looks ugly imo) but a few I just can't turn off. Like when going near radioactive waste, my screen starts to scramble, which just makes it harder to see!.

The option for that is "noise-shader" in the "Black Mesa" tab of the menu.

Yeah....
I'm not the one who said that -_-

Guild Wars 2 anyone?

Or maybe DayZ?

Remenber how XtraPunctuation used to be a reflection on ZeroPunctuation? A more elaborate diatribe on what they did right and wrong and what they could do better?

DVS BSTrD:
Yeah....
I'm not the one who said that -_-

Apologies. Edited.

Anyone else hate how the "Quote" button seems to have migrated north?

Yellowbeard:

Bindal:
A good bunch can be disabled with console (like the blood on weapons - it just looks ugly imo) but a few I just can't turn off. Like when going near radioactive waste, my screen starts to scramble, which just makes it harder to see!.

The option for that is "noise-shader" in the "Black Mesa" tab of the menu.

Tried just that - nothing happened. And the game doesn't even save those settings most of the time.

Yellowbeard:

DVS BSTrD:
Yeah....
I'm not the one who said that -_-

Apologies. Edited.

Anyone else hate how the "Quote" button seems to have migrated north?

Pretty useless format change, unless you want to insult people without even reading their comments first.

aw I think he liked it c:

well enough anyway

Ah, Black Mesa was going alright for me, but there are times were it can be vvery unintuitive about how to progress. I've temporarily abandoned the game, because I've gotten stuck at a point and can't see how to progress.

For those interested in responding to a thinly veiled request for a walkthrough, I've gotten stuck in a big flooded area, right after the "on the Rails" section. It's a big, circular room with a partition down the middle, cutting off two flooded areas. There's a broken ladder, an underwater tunnel that leads to seemingly nowhere but a pointless, flooded garage, and a Gordon Freeman who has no idea where to go next. What the fuck should I be doing?

Otherwise, its a nice remake. I don't think it beats the original, but it makes for a welcome excuse to return to Black Mesa.

Angry Camel:
The difficulty is really the only thing putting me off. The soldiers seem to have x-ray vision and sniper-like aim half the time. Speaking as someone that has never played Half-life, I don't know all the tricks and traps and have to rely on quicksaving and quickloading too much. As for the jumping, why not instead of crouch-jumping, just let Freeman automatically tuck his feet up when jumping onto higher things?

I browsed the Steam forums to see what people had to say there, but people that made complaints were often just shot down as being bad at the game, so not much help there.

No, you're correct. I don't have a clue why the duck jumping has become so much more prominent in Black Mesa. Did they really care so much about realism that the tucking of the legs became crucial to immersion? In a game about radioactive, teleporting monsters? Soldiers aren't too bad, you just have to rely on weapons that kill them quickly (point blank em with shotties, snipe em with the magnum) rather than play them at their own game with mid-ranged pea-shooters (pistols and machine guns).

maninahat:

Angry Camel:
The difficulty is really the only thing putting me off. The soldiers seem to have x-ray vision and sniper-like aim half the time. Speaking as someone that has never played Half-life, I don't know all the tricks and traps and have to rely on quicksaving and quickloading too much. As for the jumping, why not instead of crouch-jumping, just let Freeman automatically tuck his feet up when jumping onto higher things?

I browsed the Steam forums to see what people had to say there, but people that made complaints were often just shot down as being bad at the game, so not much help there.

No, you're correct. I don't have a clue why the duck jumping has become so much more prominent in Black Mesa. Did they really care so much about realism that the tucking of the legs became crucial to immersion? In a game about radioactive, teleporting monsters? Soldiers aren't too bad, you just have to rely on weapons that kill them quickly (point blank em with shotties, snipe em with the magnum) rather than play them at their own game with mid-ranged pea-shooters (pistols and machine guns).

Yeah, a simple change to jumping would have made a certain mine filled room far less rage inducing...

Reading Yahtzee's opinion on Black Mesa got me thinking of Metal Gear Solid : The Twin Snakes from Gamecube; The 1st game rebuilt with the 2nd game's graphics and gameplay features (lockers, aiming AND shooting in 1st-person, dragging bodies around, hanging on ledges, Caution mode between Evasion and All Clear Modes, mouths moving in cutscenes to speak in stead of pixelated head-nodding) and it felt to me like an improvement!

captcha: "It's Super Delicious"
says the zombie about brains

maninahat:
For those interested in responding to a thinly veiled request for a walkthrough, I've gotten stuck in a big flooded area, right after the "on the Rails" section. It's a big, circular room with a partition down the middle, cutting off two flooded areas. There's a broken ladder, an underwater tunnel that leads to seemingly nowhere but a pointless, flooded garage, and a Gordon Freeman who has no idea where to go next. What the fuck should I be doing?

Have you tried putting the floaty (orangey-brown, IIRC) barrels underneath the catwalk that's drooping into the water?

In the original you had to break the lock on an underwater crate, releasing floaty barrels. In BM they changed it to be more like that airboat jump in Half-Life 2, except the barrels aren't nearly as eye-catching.

Black mesa really surprised me on all fronts. I loved the way the difficulty ramped up, there's no better feeling than overcoming odds placed in front of you. You are playing as the "free-man," after all.

What I was shocked by and I think is a real shame is that people no longer give respect for a challenging game, much less a shooter which nowadays are complete cake-walks. The same goes for platforming in these environments. To this day since I played the first game, platforming never bothered me in a FPS. I guess this was a real treat for the old-school where challenge was expected and gratification was only found by overcoming it.

Overall, The Black Mesa team gave us more than an hd skin pack, they delivered a fresh look on what half-life is in today's gaming world and I might be too bold saying this but something that Valve needs to take note of.

Time for my 3rd playthrough.

Too many jumping puzzles for my liking, but a decent game still.

The Cynical Brit also did a playthrough of it, and one thing he mentioned that I can't unsee now is how silly the crowbar animations look, compared to any of the official Half-Life games. That, plus the jumping and ladder issues, seem to me to not be deal breakers in any way but still kind of unforgivable given how glaring they are and how long they've probably gone unnoticed by testers. Also is it just me or do some of the openings, like the ones looking out onto the blast pit, not afford as good of a view anymore?

TAdamson:
Guild Wars 2 anyone?

Or maybe DayZ?

Remenber how XtraPunctuation used to be a reflection on ZeroPunctuation? A more elaborate diatribe on what they did right and wrong and what they could do better?

I do. And I also remember before it was, back when he used it to talk about whatever game design related topic was on his mind and people didn't bug him for not sticking to a formula.

The ladders were fine (if a bit odd to get used to) up until the bit where there's a whole bunch of soldiers with a tank surrounded by underground pipes, at which point I realized that for some batshit insane reason sometimes on ladders pressing 's' makes you go up them. Along with 'w' and pretty much every other key.
Which nearly made me ragequit a couple of times as I got to the top, fired off a shot and then happily leapt up out of my hiding spot in order to get ripped apart in 2 seconds flat.

The difficulty in general does seem a little wonky, playing on hard mode the large fishy type critters are laughably easy compared to the original whilst the heli fight left one hand constantly hovering over the quickload key..

One of the best moments though, the hornet gun. I'd always wondered how Freeman held it, now I know.

daflame:
Black mesa really surprised me on all fronts. I loved the way the difficulty ramped up, there's no better feeling than overcoming odds placed in front of you. You are playing as the "free-man," after all.

What I was shocked by and I think is a real shame is that people no longer give respect for a challenging game, much less a shooter which nowadays are complete cake-walks. The same goes for platforming in these environments. To this day since I played the first game, platforming never bothered me in a FPS. I guess this was a real treat for the old-school where challenge was expected and gratification was only found by overcoming it.

Overall, The Black Mesa team gave us more than an hd skin pack, they delivered a fresh look on what half-life is in today's gaming world and I might be too bold saying this but something that Valve needs to take note of.

Time for my 3rd playthrough.

I agree, which surprises me. I generally dislike very hard games because I'm in it for the story, progression of the game and feeling like a bad ass. But, I played through on medium and, holy shit, the game was tough but rewarding. Interestingly, the parts people said were hard I found easy. For example the laser trip wire warehouse from hell. I got though it without dying. I also managed the boss helicopter after only a dozen tries. The part I found most hard no one else has yet mentioned: the helicopter appearing at the damn in Surface Tension. Holy balls, I had to reload several dozen times on that one. I also found the ding ding monster in the silo a little too eager to find me even though I was crawling on my belly at 1 mph.

flaming_squirrel:
The ladders were fine (if a bit odd to get used to) up until the bit where there's a whole bunch of soldiers with a tank surrounded by underground pipes, at which point I realized that for some batshit insane reason sometimes on ladders pressing 's' makes you go up them. Along with 'w' and pretty much every other key.
Which nearly made me ragequit a couple of times as I got to the top, fired off a shot and then happily leapt up out of my hiding spot in order to get ripped apart in 2 seconds flat.

The difficulty in general does seem a little wonky, playing on hard mode the large fishy type critters are laughably easy compared to the original whilst the heli fight left one hand constantly hovering over the quickload key..

One of the best moments though, the hornet gun. I'd always wondered how Freeman held it, now I know.

People keep complaining about the crowbar animation, and quite frankly I find this complain silly. Going back in playing half-life, I found the crowbar animation immensely silly but I didn't make a huge deal about it. I mean think about i. That crowbar swings like a mofo.

Judging by the title of this article, I was totally expecting to see mention of this somewhere:

I am disappointed that it didn't even get mentioned :(

maninahat:
Ah, Black Mesa was going alright for me, but there are times were it can be vvery unintuitive about how to progress. I've temporarily abandoned the game, because I've gotten stuck at a point and can't see how to progress.

For those interested in responding to a thinly veiled request for a walkthrough, I've gotten stuck in a big flooded area, right after the "on the Rails" section. It's a big, circular room with a partition down the middle, cutting off two flooded areas. There's a broken ladder, an underwater tunnel that leads to seemingly nowhere but a pointless, flooded garage, and a Gordon Freeman who has no idea where to go next. What the fuck should I be doing?

Otherwise, its a nice remake. I don't think it beats the original, but it makes for a welcome excuse to return to Black Mesa.

if you are where i think you are there should be a broken hole in the floor to the right, near the large garage doors, i got stuck there for a while too.

I didn't think the difficulty was that bad. Yeah, it was a little unnerving how quickly the soldiers could get a bead on you, but if you're seeing them at all you should be ducking behind something anyway. Then it's just a matter of getting some headshots with the magnum, or shotgunning them.

Black Mesa was totally worth the wait, lives up to the original in every way, and is better than many games I've paid full price for. Totally stoked to see what they do with Xen.

Having never played the original, I very much liked Black Mesa. I grant that the difficulty was excessive at times and the occasional glitch or instance of confusion as to what to do next left me frustrated, but I stuck with it and overall I had fun. The pacing was well done, like most valve games, the weapons were balanced, and the enemies and environments varied and interesting. The story was incoherent(I love how the existence of the main villain is revealed through an offhand comment by a nameless character at the very end of the mod) but I was impressed at how well the game did atmosphere and put you in Gordon's shoes through simple gameplay; on that count I think it did better then the actual Valve games, in part due to the custom soundtrack.

It was a small thing, but personally I also liked the bloodstains on the weapons. It added to the immersion and allowed you to imagine Gordon being splattered with goo after shooting a houndeye point-blank in the face with a shotgun. Personally I sort of hope that feature gets into official half-life games.

Mcoffey:
I didn't think the difficulty was that bad. Yeah, it was a little unnerving how quickly the soldiers could get a bead on you, but if you're seeing them at all you should be ducking behind something anyway. Then it's just a matter of getting some headshots with the magnum, or shotgunning them.

Black Mesa was totally worth the wait, lives up to the original in every way, and is better than many games I've paid full price for. Totally stoked to see what they do with Xen.

If I try that, I get instantly filled with more lead than my suit is made off before I can pull the damn trigger. No, soldiers are OP in every single way. And together with pretty much everything else in regards to gameplay make Black Mesa the biggest disappointment of 2012 for me.

Not sure what Yahtzee's (used to love playing Yahtzee btw) idea of a job one doesn't have to give a shit about is. Farked if I know. Most of those probably don't pay so well and they just end up being shit jobs -_-

This is hardly a mere remake, I thought the motivation for Black Mesa was because of what a piss-poor offering Half-Life: Source was.

I plan on hanging on to both for posterity.

Finally....that bloody ridculously hard chopper boss battle gets mentioned as being....well bloody ridculously hard. It was a horrible edition that even on the easiest difficulty (which I had to change it to) was still painfully annoying as f**k. Overall though, Black Mesa was a great, mostly faithful experience that I'll definitely be playing from now on instead of the original.

Bindal:

Mcoffey:
I didn't think the difficulty was that bad. Yeah, it was a little unnerving how quickly the soldiers could get a bead on you, but if you're seeing them at all you should be ducking behind something anyway. Then it's just a matter of getting some headshots with the magnum, or shotgunning them.

Black Mesa was totally worth the wait, lives up to the original in every way, and is better than many games I've paid full price for. Totally stoked to see what they do with Xen.

If I try that, I get instantly filled with more lead than my suit is made off before I can pull the damn trigger. No, soldiers are OP in every single way. And together with pretty much everything else in regards to gameplay make Black Mesa the biggest disappointment of 2012 for me.

DIffernt strokes for differnt folks I guess. Did you try lowering the difficulty? I only ask because I genuinely didn't have too hard a time with them, and I'm normally not very good at shooters.

Yellowbeard:
I honestly don't know how people can be having trouble with the ladders. They're EXACTLY like they were in Half-Life 2: climb near the spot you want to be and press "E". That's it. You're safely dismounted.

Wait, what? That's an OPTION? I always do the death defying jump off the ladder.

cobalt358:

maninahat:
Ah, Black Mesa was going alright for me, but there are times were it can be vvery unintuitive about how to progress. I've temporarily abandoned the game, because I've gotten stuck at a point and can't see how to progress.

For those interested in responding to a thinly veiled request for a walkthrough, I've gotten stuck in a big flooded area, right after the "on the Rails" section. It's a big, circular room with a partition down the middle, cutting off two flooded areas. There's a broken ladder, an underwater tunnel that leads to seemingly nowhere but a pointless, flooded garage, and a Gordon Freeman who has no idea where to go next. What the fuck should I be doing?

Otherwise, its a nice remake. I don't think it beats the original, but it makes for a welcome excuse to return to Black Mesa.

if you are where i think you are there should be a broken hole in the floor to the right, near the large garage doors, i got stuck there for a while too.

That's the one. Thanks for getting me out.

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