Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Gathering together the best shooters is no easy task, but if you’re looking for a new PC FPS to play, look no further.

Your favourite game is at number 51.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Now that the commercial version of Half-Life fan remake Black Mesa [official site] is out in Early Access form (and pretty great so far), what’ll happen to the original free mod?

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Marsh Davies)

Alt-text is having a week off to recover from the election. Soz.

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

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.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Less than 24 hours remain on the countdown clock at the Black Mesa Research Facility website, which has switched to a new and rather alarming emergency broadcast. I'm pretty sure it's actually the same message the site began to broadcast over the new year, although some details may have changed. Either way, it's a chilling (and exciting!) notification that something has gone very wrong at Black Mesa.

The teaser website is fun, but practically speaking it's the appearance of the Black Mesa Workshop on Steam that points to all of this hype being somehow related to Black Mesa, the Source engine-based remake of the original Half-Life. It could be that the Xen levels, which aren't currently part of Black Mesa, are ready for release, or it could signal the long-awaited launch of the retail version of the game on Steam.

The Workshop contains seven maps, all for multiplayer battles, as well as an eighth, entitled, "asdf0," which as we all know is computer-speak for, "This is a test." There's no store page link, however, and the home and discussion links lead to either the Steam storefront or the Steam Workshop front pages; trying to "manually" reach a Black Mesa store page by using the app ID number from the Workshop page in a regular Steam URL is also a bust.

Despite the near-certitude that this is all tied into Black Mesa, more resolutely optimistic fans may still maintain hope that it's all a lead-up to the announcement of Half-Life 3. Buried in the code of the BMRF.us website is an ascii image of the mysterious G-Man, above a link to "THREE.WebGLRenderer." It's not exactly "confirmed!" but dare to dream, right?

Whatever it is, the countdown clock will hit zero at 9:47 Mountain Standard Time on May 5. Be ready.

PC Gamer

Doom isn't the only aging shooter than's getting bloodier through modding. Now Half-Life has received a generous dose of gore and gibs with the Brutal Half-Life mod. Inspired by Brutal Doom, the adventures of Gordon Freeman have taken a turn for the gross with dismemberment, decapitations, gallons of blood, and some new moves.

Oh boy. I done made a mess of Barney.

Instead of just shooting monsters and soldiers, now you can chew off their individual limbs with bullets or pop their heads off with a shotgun blast. In fact, if you shoot off all their arms and legs, they'll flop to the ground and writhe around, still alive. You can smash their bodies into splattery glop, too. Those Barneys sure have a lot of blood in them. At least they used to.

Sorry, Vort, but the easiest way to get your collar off is by removing your head.

Not only do your opponents get covered in blood, you do too. After wading through the gooey spray that results from hyper-violent close-up combat, your weapons will become caked in gore. Speaking of weapons, there are a couple new ones. The M249 from Opposing Force has been added so you can really let some lead fly. And, Doom's own BFG can be collected, letting you put the green-glowing smackdown on crowds of enemies.

Not surprising that your own weapons get covered in blood.

There are some new animations, because as you'd expect, when you shoot someone's leg, arm, or head off they tend to move a bit differently. There are also added effects, like different types of explosions and smoke. The mod also comes with its own map, a sort of arena-style monster zoo for you to run around and fight whatever sort of enemies you like, accessible from the main menu.

And, the mod allows you to kick a dude, just like real scientists do. I always felt like Freeman should have been able to kick. He's gotta have strong legs after all the walking, sprinting, and standing in Limbo he's been doing.

Just open the door, Brainiac.

Brutal Half-Life can be found here, and it comes with its own installer which adds it to your Steam games list after a restart. It's only in beta, so I did get a couple crashes and once or twice maps didn't load properly. Otherwise, it's a bloody good time.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Better than kings - gods!

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]

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Something is happening over at BMRF.US, a website associated with the Source-based Half-Life remake Black Mesa: Source. The site is repeating an emergency broadcast warning of "a disaster of unknown type" that has occurred at the Black Mesa Research Facility, and ordering the immediate evacuation of everyone within 75 miles. Half-Life 3 confirmed?

Well, no, I think we can safely say that's not it. But the warning may have something to do with a coming launch of Black Mesa: Source as a stand-alone game on Steam. It was originally released as a free mod in 2012, and in late 2013 was among the first games to get the Greenlight on Steam—a somewhat surprising development, given that it's based entirely on Valve's intellectual property.

It's generally assumed that when the commercial launch rolls around, it will include the Xen levels, which weren't included with the original mod. According to a post on the Black Mesa: Source forums, however, one of the developers said the alert "has nothing to do with the imminent release of Xen," but added that more hints may be in the offing.

It's worth remembering that the BMRF site was actually part of the Black Mesa: Source ARG that launched shortly after the mod was released, and as noted by Reddit, the site is owned by the Black Mesa web developer. It's legit, in other words, but legit what, exactly, remains a mystery.

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