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There have been some unusual and unexpected ports in recent times. I’d never expected to see Deadly Premonition in my Steam library and Way of the Samurai 4 was something of a surprise. Strangest of all, perhaps, is that I’ve not only become accustomed to the presence of Metal Gear Solid V on PC, but that its stealthy immersive sim-feel has made it an integral part of 2015. Aspects of the design will become part of the fabric of future open world games, whether stealth-focused or not, and there’s nothing about the game that marks it out as a port.
Level 28! No, the other kind of level. The type that you run around in, shooting people or jumping on their heads and that sort of thing. Adam, Alec, Alice and Graham gather to discuss their favourite levels and/or maps from across the vast length of PC gaming, including selections from Deus Ex, Call of Duty and Quake III. Someone even makes a case for Xen from Half-Life, and means it.
Not that much, really – which is hardly a surprise. Developers Crowbar Collective haven’t given up on it, as they said they wouldn’t, but expect future updates to be more along the lines of bug fixes than big additions. The mod won’t see Xen, for starters. The older version of the Source engine the mod uses isn’t up to handling the pretty Xen they want to make, see, and they can’t change it.
Each week Marsh Davies latches onto Early Access like a brain-eating alien parisitoid and slurps up any stories he can find. This week we re back in Black Mesa [official site] – the classy fan remake of Half-Life 1 in a hybrid version of the Source engine which was used for its sequels. An incomplete release of the project was made available on Steam for free last year, but the Early Access incarnation is a more polished, ongoing, funded development, with additional chapters planned, multiplayer, workshop integration and modding tools.>
If the past is another country, then it s one under constant mnemonic invasion from the present. This is doubly true of moments from a distant childhood, a time when experience was already enlarged so dramatically by the imagination, when the emotional significance of toys, or books, or games far exceeded their actual sophistication – and it is these responses which then endure in memory, rewriting the reality. 22 years of brain death has sneakily uprezzed my recollection of the original Syndicate, for example, transforming it into a glorious cyberpunk cityscape that its crude, mud-paletted pixels have never really deserved. So when I say Black Mesa is every bit as good as the Half-Life I remember playing 17 years ago, you ll understand that I m praising something much greater than an act of recreation.
There is a peculiar irony to the impression people have of gaming. When videogames are lazily portrayed in the wider world, they inevitably show a soldier being shot through a gun scope. Hell, even within the highest enclave walls, people are wont to dismiss the poor taste of others by snarking, They d probably like it if it had a gun floating at the bottom of the screen. The first-person shooter is the most emblematic genre of gaming, and yet it s now the most under-served, under-developed, and rarest of mainstream releases. There are barely any new non-indie FPS games. And it s all Half-Life s fault.>
If we acknowledge that many jokes have been made about the Half-Life series then may we, you and I, accept that there’s no need for us to crack any more and vow never to ever again ever?
The commercial version of Black Mesa [official site], the fan-made remake of Valve’s seminal Half-Life, arrived on Steam today at 14.99/$19.99. On Steam Early Access, to be precise, as it’s still missing the Xen chapters. While those are absent, present are new additions since the free mod release like Steam Workshop support and deathmatch on six classic HLDM maps.
The leaked Half-Life 2 beta is an old, old story – and how it happened, and what happened next was documented masterfully by RPS chum Simon Parking a few years back – but a recent fan compilation of all the characters in it who never turned up in the finished article is fascinating. This is the Half-Life 2 that never was, and yet, to some extent, it does exist after all. … [visit site to read more]
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
You read the headline and the tea spurts from your mouth. “Have I pla–!?” Half-Life! The gall of it! To suggest that not every PC owner has already experienced Valve’s formative first-person shooter. The frivolity of it! To give space to those who have might enjoy reminiscing or celebrating a game long loved but no longer frequently discussed.
I know> – I’m just a mess about it myself.
Hold on a second, chums. Look at that screenshot again. That’s the opening scene of Half-Life with subtitles. Pretty important atmosphere-setting, isn’t it, that train ride narration? It makes Black Mesa seem so much bigger than us. Half-Life used an awful lot of speech to reveal what was going on, from our one-sided conversations with scientists to soldiers yelling at each other. Here I pull off an incredibly adept pull-back-and-reveal: those subtitles were added by a mod which only came out this year. A new version’s now out, with new ways to make this side accessible to folks who can’t or don’t want to hear it.