Back in 2006, a fan-made Half-Life remake using Half-Life 2’s new and shiny source engine was kicked off by a bunch of volunteers under the name ‘Crowbar Collective’. Fourteen years later, the cover version finally has a release date: March 5.
Normally this would kick up fears that the original developers would trip things up with a copyright infringement claim, but thankfully Valve has been on board for some time – just as well as Crowbar Collective is selling it via Valve’s own Steam store.
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“There are probably a fair number of people who if you asked them ‘Do you want to own a video game company?’, would say ‘Yes! Absolutely. Whatever it takes!’,” wrote Adam Engels, owner of Crowbar Collective. “If instead in 2006 someone said to me ‘This will be difficult. You will consider quitting multiple times, and it is going to take you at least 14 years to complete.’ I am not sure I would have signed up for that.
“Who would have blamed me if I didn’t? For the majority of its development, Black Mesa was a volunteer project. Even after we got the green light to sell the game, we still did not make any money until late June of 2015.”
It started to make money because in 2015 Black Mesa went into Steam Early Access, with the majority of the game available to buy and play right away. Why has the comparatively small final act – the Xen section – taken over a third of the time? Because the developers decided to reimagine a part of the game that most players found a weak point the first time around. The finickity platforming of the original replaced with something new and different that the team estimates will take around six hours to complete.
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You can download the early access version now for £14.99, with the last section of game arriving a week tomorrow. Of course, with Half-Life: Alyx just around the corner, the original games are all currently free to play on the platform if money is tight.
Still, with a heavily modified visuals and a whole new Xen section, it feels like Black Mesa is worth the upgrade. The community certainly thinks so, with Steam stats showing that 95% of the game’s 24,742 user reviews are positive…